Armenia on EEU Deal

Updated: 16 October, 2014 seen 1,011

I have been closely watching Armenia's move toward Eurasian Union, today I found a great article on ArmeniaNow - were Armenian reporter has putted all dots on i.

I'm republishing this article full, unchanged you can read original here.

From Moscow With Love: Armenian reporter finds neo-Soviet Russia on “pro-Eurasian” tour


ArmeniaNow reporter

Moscow is the living memory of the Soviet Union.

“Sovetski Soyuz”, “Bolshevik”, “Lenin Library”, numerous monuments devoted to various Soviet heroes… Unlike us, Armenians, they’ve loyally preserved every single piece of Soviet history. 

In the subway one can hear melodies from favorite Soviet films, those we used to hear during all our childhood.

Moscow sights are so familiar to my eyes that it feels like I’m living a deja vu, but this is my first visit to Moscow, which coincided with the day Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan signed a Eurasian Economic Union membership treaty with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus in Minsk. The question is discussed at the Plekhanov Economic University at a meeting of the University’s rector with reporters from former Soviet countries, including myself.

“I think that it must be signed, and despite all the processes that are taking place around Armenia, just like Kyiv, the West is trying to tear Armenia off, but Armenia found the correct direction. And finally, Armenia is our old ally,” Rector Viktor Grishin said.

On the same day, several hours later President Sargsyan did sign the document. I got congratulations from Belarus, Kazakh and Uzbek reporters. Opposing, I said that I have a different position, just like many other Armenian citizens, and Sargsyan’s decision regarding EEU membership was a single-handed decision.

“You’ve got liberated, otherwise the West would have grabbed you. There is no Kazakh, Tajik, Uzbek, Armenian, Belarus, we are all Russians,” said the Evening Alma-Ata daily’s editor-in-chief Nikolay Zhorov.

It seems like I can see another Kisilev. (Dmitry Kisilev, a top Kremlin mouthpiece, recently visited Armenia and “lectured” Armenian lawmakers on how important it is for Armenians to be with Russia, also for security reasons). And I think: “Who allowed you to speak on behalf of Armenians? Take us out of that list. If you like being a Russian, be it.”

Later on, when we were walking along Moscow streets, Antiterror Today internet newspaper editor Oleg Stolpovski sincerely confessed that he missed the times when everyone’s motherland was the Soviet Union.

“I do not feel this as my country, mine is Armenia, after all, I’m Armenian,” I said.

He softened the conversation, “You cannot mix Armenians, Armenians are one of the most ancient people in the world.”

“Armenians like to oppose, there has always been 20 percent of opposition among you, still from the Soviet times,” added the Kazakh reporter looking for an Armenian restaurant and saying that he liked Armenian cuisine. 

I told him that just a bit ago he could see himself as part of another nation, why did he prefer Armenian cuisine. “Go to a Russia restaurant. Politics starts from cuisine. Cuisine represents the given peoples’ national features. It is just a step from cuisine to politics.”

Armenians living in Russia are also excited by the fact that President Sargsyan signed the EEU membership agreement. Those who are not Russian citizens pay for receiving work permit documents.

“Each month – 12,000 Rubles /14,000 AMD (about $35)/ for that piece of document. I am here ten months during a year working on construction. We will get rid of that trouble,” resident of the village of Noraduz in Armenia’s Gegharkunik province Armen Muradyan said.

Karine Sargsyan, working at a small bakery, said that she had to pay $1,000 for a year’s work permit.
“And now they say that there are some mistakes in my documents, if they see it they will deport me, I have to give them a month’s salary and get another document like that,” she said. “There are Tajik and Kazakh workers like me. They work and send remittances back to their families. Everyone has a similar situation – debts, loans, mortgage, and very similar social conditions like Armenia.”

The results of the 2010 census of the population in Russia show that the number of Armenians is 1 million 182,400. According to unofficial data, that number is bigger - some 2.5 million Armenians are believed to live in Russia today. 

The majority of Armenians who moved to Moscow 15-20 years ago are in a much stable social condition. They have their business, a private accommodation, their children study at higher educational institutions, they have integrated in the Russia style of life and do not imagine their children’s life in Armenia.

Chairman of the Union of Armenians of Russia Ara Abrahamyan said at a press conference on October 12 that EEU member Armenia’s independence will not be threatened, the country’s security problem will be solved and there will be serious economic progress in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh as well.

Reflecting on EEU opponents, Abrahamyan mentioned that there is no threat for Armenia’s independence. Armenia will limit it to several economic questions.

“As for Karabakh, if we say that Karabakh is an unrecognized state, then what customs house are we talking about? There will be no change, on the contrary – it will mean economic growth for Karabakh, because all Karabakh goods will be taken through Armenia to the EEU,” he said.

Abrahamyan mentioned that Armenia can exit EEU at any point if it thinks that the country’s interests are undermined. “If tomorrow we see that the European Union suggests better conditions and says that nobody in Armenia needs to work anymore, we will send the money, you can live happily, why not, and we will immediately leave the EEU and go to Europe.”

Meanwhile, Moscow has turned into a big work market that everyone from CIS countries hurries to with hopes of finding a job, big money, but as it goes in the title of a well-known film “Moscow does not believe tears” and many come back broken and disappointed.

“We sold our three-room apartment in Yerevan, invested the money in business and lost it. Now we rent a two-room flat for $1,000 per month. We cannot return to Armenia, we work and live, even though with great difficulty,” said Karlen Martirosyan, who lives in a Moscow suburb with his family. 

And despite the sanctions imposed by the West, Western brand ads are still a prominent feature of nighttime Moscow. American Starbucks coffee smell is spread all over Serpukhovskaya subway station. And before sanctions reach Starbucks, I still have time to enjoy a cup of coffee…