Azerbaijan’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union is practically ruled out without any consent by the Armenian authorities and the Armenian people, says a Moscow-based political analyst.
In an interview with Tert.am, Alexander Sobyanin, the director of the Association for Cross-Border Cooperation, highlighted the need of serious collaborative work before any decision-making “to understand that uniting economies under a common umbrella is a reality dictated by international developments”. In his words, such an approach would facilitate future peace efforts over Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).
The Russian Foreign Minister recently said in Baku that they would hail Azerbaijan’s presence in the Eurasian Economic Union. Do you think it is a possible scenario? Azerbaijan has not kind of made any public statement in that connection.
Sergey Lavrov spoke not only of Azerbaijan but also Uzbekistan. I think those countries’ membership in the Eurasian Economic Union is really becoming inevitable, yet we shouldn’t make haste under any circumstances, as this kind of decisions have to consider also the member-states’ societies (not just the governments). It has to do particularly with Armenia. Those states’ membership efforts should contribute to the Eurasian Union’s development in general. In the case of Azerbaijan, a lot depends certainly on Armenia. It is a complicated issue as it is, so [the sides] need to carry out considerable work before any decision-making to reach agreements wieghing all the pros and cons.
You are aware that Armenia and Azerbaijan are in a de-facto war situation. So what is the expected outcome? What would be the motivating factor for Armenia to agree to Azerbaijan’s membership?
If there is a [mutual] desire, the sides will be able to reach an accord. Azerbaijan’s membership may facilitate the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement efforts. At the same time, it is important to also maintain security and sovereignty in the two states not to allow any lowering of those criteria, and to avoid any loss of balance. The international community does not have common approaches with respect to the Karabakh conflict; there isn’t any single and universally acceptable position. So Russia’s presence in the conflict settlement process is really necessary in order to make the sides demonstrate enough willingness and desire to discuss the issue. This kind of problem requires a great responsibility as it is really very complicated. It is the international situation that practically makes our economies help one another.
So do you really think the Nagorno-Karabakh issue will be resolved after Azerbaijan and Armenia become members of a single union? For over 25 years, the sides haven’t been able to reach any accord, with each pursuing its own gains and interests. How are they expected to forget all this for the sake of Azerbaijan’s membership?
That doesn’t absolutely imply that Azerbaijan’s entry into the EEU would pave way to conflict settlement just within a fraction of the second. It is possible, of course, to establish historic sovereignty. We have seen Germany’s and France’s example, which is quite successful. Of pivotal importance is not only the consent by the political elite but also the civil society of Armenia. We need also consent by the [political] factions represented in the National Assembly, as this is really a complicated issue. I do not simply imagine that at least a small segment [of the Armenian society] would back Azerbaijan’s membership in the EEU. We probably need a referendum to identify the public sentiments. I don’t know whether Armenia’s Constitution allows for that, but public opinion surveys alone will not be enough to identify what the societies want and whether or not they agree [to such a plan]. The Armenian society’s position must be clearly expressed before such a decision-making. But that’s a time-consuming issue, not something to be settled in just a couple of days.
And what about situation with Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) in that case? Will Karabakh also become an EEU member and if so, what will be its status?
Considering the developments over the past 10 years, this issue needs to be considered from the angle of the theory of relativity. I think that Karabakh will in most likelihood have its status approved, overcoming economic barriers. And the economy of Karabakh will reach a considerably advanced level to have its contribution to the Eurasian market’s development. That’s one option. And perhaps Karabakh will be granted a separate status, as they may decide that it should not be a Union member. I think the issue can be resolved through discussions.