March 6, 2014 - 17:48 AMT
Armenia may join the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan as soon as in 2014, the chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission said.
"I believe, legal documents for Armenia’s membership in the Customs Union will be drafted this year,” RIA Novosti quoted Viktor Khristenko as saying.
According to Khristenko, at the March 5 summit of Eurasian Economic Commission, reports were submitted to presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on Armenia progress in the CU accession roadmap implementation.
Khristenko expressed optimism over Armenia's fast-paced implementation of the 260-step roadmap, pledging Russia's further support to Yerevan in a number of issues, including the Karabakh conflict settlement.
"Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are ready to prepare a deal for Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union," Russian leader said earlier.
As Vladimir Putin noted at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council session, “Armenia has adopted and is successfully implementing the plan of actions for adaptation to the norms of the Customs Union and Unified Economic Space, so we believe it possible to ready the accession deal.”
Armenia will complete all steps envisaged in the Customs Union accession road map in mid-April, will the CU accession deal currently in the works, Deputy Foreign Minister said.
As Shavarsh Kocharyan told the March 1 news conference, once the text of the deal is coordinated with the CU member states, it will be submitted for parliamentary ratification.
Deputy Economy Minister Karine Minasyan in turn, noted that on Feb 28, the 3rd meeting of a working group for assistance to Armenia’s CU union accession was held; the next one is scheduled for March 28 with the activity results to be summarized.
“On March 4, Astana will host a meeting of deputy prime ministers to discuss Armenia's accession to the CU. On March 11, Armenian, Russian, Belarusian and Kazakh leaders will meet in Moscow to work on the agreement,” she said.
According to Minasyan, Armenia will soon start talks with the CU member states to retain current customs duties for goods imported from non-CU countries. She also confirmed that the issues related to the absence of common borers with the economic territory of the CU will be settled.
Armenia completed technical talks on a ‘deep and comprehensive free-trade agreement' (DCFTA) with the EU in July 2013 and it was set to be signed at a summit with the EU in late November. In addition to a free-trade deal, Armenia has been working towards the signing of an association agreement with the EU, a framework agreement on co-operation that is seen as a first step towards political integration with the EU.
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.
“Armenia implemented almost half of the activities envisaged by the Customs Union accession roadmap,” Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said earlier.