Defending his choice to enter a Moscow-centered Customs Union, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan commented on February 4 that Armenia joining the European Union was never part of Yerevan's game-plan, Public Radio of Armenia reported.
It has been lovely to work with the EU on democratization and human rights and all, but Armenia never considered committing to a more serious relationship, said Sargsyan, whose pro-Moscow choice last September took Brussels by surprise.
Speaking about another Western club with which Yerevan has had a standing flirtation, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Sargsyan expressed dismay that NATO, as he put it, had allowed member Turkey, Armenia’s bête noire, to take certain undefined "actions" that damage NATO's "security system."
That said, Armenia will not shy away from being "just friends" with the EU and NATO. Still, its "steady" remains Russia; namely, Moscow's Customs Union and Collective Security Treaty Organization. One provides duty-free access to the vast and nearby Russian market, while the other keeps hostile neighbor Azerbaijan at bay. (At least in theory. )
Yerevan announced on February 3 that it will complete the road map to membership in the Customs Union by year-end, and set January 1, 2015 as the date for its trade-nuptials with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Yet, simple and down-to-the-earth as the logic for these plans may seem to many, not all Armenians are ready to sign off on it. Last week, a rally inspired by Ukraine’s anti-Russian Euromaidan movement took place in Yerevan and reportedly was the largest effort so far against the Russian in Armenia's life.
Commemorating Serzh Niyoian, an ethnic Armenian activist who died in the Ukrainian protests, protesters held banners reading “EU – 60 years of reality, CU – 0 years of experiment,” the Kavkazsky Uzel news site reported.
But, for now, despite occasional protests, Armenia appears to be far less divided than Ukraine over this choice.