Swiss Ambassador to Armenia Lukas Gasser: Switzerland will try to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without questioning the established formats such as the OSCE Minsk process
by David Stepanyan
Over the last three years Armenia has already carried out a range of institutional reforms to sign an Association Agreement with the EU. In this light, it is silly to speak of institutional obstacles to Armenia's accession to the Customs Union (CU), Tatul Manaseryan, Head of the Research Center "Alternative", Professor, Doctor of Science in Economics, told ArmInfo.
To recall, on September 3, 2013 in Moscow the Presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Vladimir Putin confirmed the aim of the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation in the direction of further development of economic integration processes in the Eurasian territory. Earlier on 21 October, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko told the heads of the CIS mass media outlets that there are many uncertainties in the issue of Armenia's accession to the CU. Lukashenko believes that Armenia cannot access the Union overnight. The country is to pass all the necessary procedures to the CU, like to the WTO, the president said.
"The Customs Union is lower than the EU, at least, by a grade. And no other argumentation is required. I think. The problems are in a different field. President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan clearly outlined that problem in his speech at the latest meeting of the CSTO leaders. Certain countries of the Organizations, despite the principles and regulations of the CSTO, despite the principles of the Karabakh peace process, sign documents wherein the principles of the Karabakh conflict's resolution are interpreted unilaterally. Such issues can implicitly create certain obstacles in the country's way towards the CU," the economist said.
He thinks that de-facto the CU has not been finally formed for lack of some parameters. It is not clear, he said, why and how under-developed countries having no free trade area decided to start a second phase of integration overnight. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect 20 years ago, but its countries have failed to establish a real union.
"Consequently, I think, the political component is overwhelming in the CU. In addition, Belarus President's reaction to Armenia's upcoming accession to the CU was nothing but a true concern for possible economic problems for Minsk," Manaseryan said.
The Customs Union has been created within the Eurasian economic space for trade and economic integration of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia on the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2011. CU is one of the biggest integration unions in the world with a population of 170 mln people and GDP of $2.7 trillion.