Ex-president skeptical over Armenia’s Customs Union accession

Ex-president skeptical over Armenia’s Customs Union accession

PanARMENIAN.Net - The second president of Armenia, Robert Kocharian, commented on Yerevan’s decision to join the Russia-led Customs Union in an interview with 2rd.am.

As it became clear from the interview, Kocharian doesn’t share the optimism of Armenian leadership over the CU accession, believing that the drastic course alterations are contraindicated where the inert Armenian economy is concerned.

“It takes years to build businesses in line with the existing rules and legislations and it will take more to reconfigure them. A thorough and transparent analysis of possible repercussions for the CU members should be held for entrepreneurs and farmers to be warned beforehand, and banks and crediting organizations to more effectively operate their financial resources,” Kocharian said. Also, he noted, the EU will most probably revise its generalized scheme of preferences (GSP) for Armenia, with a change in the already agreed customs duties to follow; which, in turn, will affect the Armenian-made products and the country’s investment attractiveness.

“I’m trying not to focus on the reputation loss that accession to the CU, which shocked our European partners, will bring to Armenia. This is something that can’t be repaired. Russia’s response, on the other hand, was quite predictable,” the ex-leader said, expressing hope for Armenia’s CU accession to involve minimum of geopolitics and serve the country’s long-term economic interests.

Today, Feb 24, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev offered to discuss main aspects of bilateral cooperation, including the CU roadmap, with his Armenian counterpart Tigran Sargsyan.

Sargsyan, in turn, congratulated Medvedev with successful completion of Russia-hosted Winter Olympics.

“Armenia implemented almost half of the activities envisaged by the Customs Union accession roadmap,” Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said earlier.

"To fully implement the 260-step roadmap, 20 working groups, presenting weekly reports on the activities accomplished, have been formed," he said.

The official further pointed out the situation with customs duties among the most crucial issues.

"On Feb 21, Yerevan hosted a meeting with a group for Armenia's accession to the CU and Unified Economic Space (UES) led by the minister of Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Tatiana Valovaya. The meeting focused on roadmap-related issues, work accomplished and problems to be solved," the official said.

"A monitoring was held for Armenia's progress in implementation of the roadmap-stipulated steps with positive results reported," the Prime Minister said.

Also, deputy economy minister Tigran Harutyunyan stated that on Mar 10, Yerevan will host a working meeting with the EEC non-tariff regulation experts to focus on the CU roadmap implementation.

Earlier, Russian ambassador Ivan Volynkin noted that the procedure of Armenia's accession to the Customs Union is moving fast, due to the country’s experts, well-skilled in the legal details of the process.

During a Sept 3 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Armenian leader Serzh Sargsyan said Armenia is ready to join Customs Union, with further plans to be involved in formation of the Eurasian Economic Union. Mr. Putin supported the initiative, vowing procedural assistance to Armenia.

A draft resolution on Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union and unified economic zone was approved at the Minsk-hosted Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting Dec 24.

On Jan 23, Armenian government has approved the list of measures for joining the Customs Union.

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