The debate was moderated by journalist Arevik Sahakyan.
After nearly nine months of closed negotiations, the EEU agreement and its appendices were finally published. Less than a few days before the planned signing of the agreement, the public had an opportunity to learn about the membership conditions and the amount and duration of privileges for specific products granted for the transition period.
Ashot Yeghiazaryan: “EEU is not an economic but interstate union aimed at solving Moscow’s problems. Actually, Russia intends to gather around it the countries under its influence, and later the countries that are dissatisfied with the present world order. Consequently, EEU is not an economic but interstate union which will reinforce Russia’s leading position. The prospects for us are vague.”
Zoya Tadevosyan: “Armenia must clearly understand the role and functions we are going to have in EEU. Evidently, in any integration process and union each country pursues its own interests. I am sure that the Republic of Armenia in EEU will never bring any economic benefits to our country for one simple reason - we do not have a common border, and this factor cannot be ignored.”
Vardan Bostanjyan: “The EEU membership is a political issue; we should understand that we are amid the struggle of “monsters.” Armenia should not endanger its security. In the current geopolitical situation it should do our best not to get in their way.”
Atom Margaryan: “11 years ago when Armenia became a member of the World Trade Organization, there were similar concerns but time has shown that Armenia managed to solve a number of development issues in very difficult situations.
Armenia will not be able to grow; moreover it will not survive if it is closed, isolated neutral, with the Karabakh conflict unsettled, and without going into any integration project.
I think people are being categorical when they state that Armenia cannot become a member of the EEU project. Armenia was born in those markets and now goes back to the markets which offer natural and compliant conditions for our country. On the other hand, there is no common border, and it's certainly a problem. I think the proposed conditions were drafted taking into account this circumstance as well, because the transition period is almost comparable to the six-year period defined by the World Trade Organization. Armenia has successfully passed this stage, although some agricultural problems arose. Any customs union and it's actually a collective form of protectionism directed against third countries.”
Gharib Harutyunyan: “Any economic integration should be based on economic efficiency: What does this integration offer to Armenia, a country with high levels of poverty, increasing emigration? Actually, we should not exclude the possibility that some of these problems may be solved in EEU. Integration can have a short-term positive effect, but from our long-term perspective, EEU membership will have a negative impact on economics, subsequently leading to economic decline.
Hovhannes Igityan: Armenia is drifting to an unknown place. There are a number of unresolved problems one of which is the customs-office in Nagorno Karabakh.