September 3, 2013 in Moscow Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian announced that Armenia will join Russian-led Custom Union.
"I confirmed Armenia's intention to join the customs union and the process of the formation of the Eurasian union. It is a rational decision stemming from the national interests of Armenia. This decision does not constitute a refusal to continue our dialogue with European structures. We intend to continue these reforms in the future."
Sarkisian made this surprise announcement after having a talk with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow. Announcement caused protests in Armenia and was not welcomed by politicians apart from those who are in President’s (Republican) party or his political partners.
The most controversial thing was that Armenia was going to sign association agreement with Eurasian economic union in the end of November. This agreement supposed to integrate Armenia in free trade zone with the EU and Eastern partnership countries. To calm down the rebels Sarkisian announced that Armenia still considers to sign document with EU and Russia will intervene in Nagorno Karabakh issue in favor of Armenia. In EU meeting Armenia hasn’t signed any document just like Ukraine who was under pressure of Russia.
Putin claims that Russia’s share in trade balance of Armenia is 23.5%. Last year trade turnover increased by more than 20% and reached $1.2 billion. The volume of Russian investments reached $3 billion – more than 40% of all foreign investments into Armenian economy. About 1300 Russian companies are working in gas, transportation, telecommunication, financial spheres of Armenia and more than 25% of all joint enterprises with foreign investments.
According to the Vestnik Kavkaza Russian President Vladimir Putin after visiting Armenia announced: “Prospects of integration cooperation are confirmed by growing complementarity of our economies.”On December 2 Russian President Vladimir Putin had state visit in Armenia. First he decided to visit the Russian military base in Gyumri but not the capital of Armenia, Yerevan which caused anger of population who declare: “Armenia is just a military base for Putin. He showed his disrespect and etc.”
Fight broke out between police and protesters in Yerevan, last week. Several hundred opposition protesters organized demonstrations. Protesters tried to march to the presidential palace, shouting "Putin, go home!" but they were blocked off by the police. Police started to ‘clean’ street from people and announced that the demonstration was unsanctioned. Except protesters they also took to the police station ordinary people who were passing by including journalists and even juveniles.
Our reporter’s Hovhannes Ishkanyan’s sister where one of those who just by chance were in Baghramyan street. Byurakn Ishkanyan was taken to the police station and freed in 5 hours, for the copy of interrogation they waited 3 hours and in the end didn’t get it. That day police broke the law not once. Protestor in the police station asked to leave because in 3 hours no one approached to him and explained why he is taken to the police station. Even though he had a right to leave police officers didn’t let him to go.
‘Benefits’ of the deal.
Putin and Sarkisian agreed that Armenia will join Russian-led Custom Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan. As Panarmenian.net reports the head of the Republican party faction Galust Sahakyan announced that Russia will cover cooperation in nuclear security provision and supply of annual 2,5 billion cubic meters of gas in 2014-2018. As Putin mentioned Russia would sell to Armenia natural gas for $189 per 1000 cubic meters, roughly half the price Russia charges countries in Europe. Putin also agreed to cancel a 35 % duty on Russian exports of petroleum products to Armenia. Armenian officials have agreed to join the customs union and enjoy the accompanying trade benefits. As a result they gave 20 % of stocks belonging to Armenian ArmRosGazprom to the Russia’s RosGazprom, because it appeared Armenia had debt $150 million about which population didn’t have any clue.
But Russian interest is not ended by having just a military and economic control over Armenia, discussion goes to the language. According to Aravot.amthe former chief of the State Language Inspectorate, linguist Lavrenti Mirozyan has concerns about CU agreement which according to him can make Russian the second official language. The convention of "European minority’s languages" states that to the five languages of national minorities should be given special status, this means that if an ethnic minority’s representative applies to any public authority he/she must necessarily get a translator. According to Mirozyan it is not possible that a totalitarian Armenia with its homogeneous population give a special status to the minority language: “Then why two and a half million Armenians living in Russia don’t get special status to Armenian language. But I'm still afraid that the time will come when to the Russian language will be given the special status.”
On my behalf.
As a representative of the ‘independent generation’ born in 1991 (that year on September 21 Armenia was declared independent) I have a question: ‘‘What has changed in Armenia since Soviet Union collapse? We were supposed to become an independent, democratic country in capitalistic system but instead we have non-transparent politics, our economic and political statuses are dependent on Russia’s will. We have police who acts as if it’s ‘Stalin’s era’ and doesn’t care about human rights. We still don’t have any solution in Nagorno-Karabakh case and the country which we declare independent is not even recognized by international community”.
So it appears that desired independence is not more than just an illusion. And now the ‘rulers’ show as the real status of our country which owes $150 million to Russia for gas. According to the report of Yerkir.am the member of the parliament Aram Manukyan said that the price of 20% ArmRosGazpom stocks is $ 250 million but it was given to Russia by $ 150 million because we had debt.
Does it mean that the gained independence by blood, with a big volume and rapidly in front of our eyes is 'going' from our hands and we are no more than prisoners in our own land?