World Bulletin/News Desk
Armenia is expected to be more dependent on Russia after its accession into the Eurasian Economic Union, known by initials EEU, on Jan. 1, 2015.
Armenia, accepted in the last week of 2014, has become the fifth member of the union following Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. This could increase Armenia's dependence on Russia in political, economic and security matters.
Last year, Armenia refused to sign a partnership agreement with the European Union and took sides with the EEU, which raised questions over whether Russia pushed it to participate in its union.
In an interview to The Anadolu Agency, Richard Giragosian, the founding director of the Yerevan-based think-tank Regional Studies Center, said there were key internal issues -- besides Russia's influence -- that made Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan distance his nation from the EU.
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia. Serzh Sargsyan is the third and current President of Armenia and took office in April 2008.
Giragosian said that Armenian opposition parties strongly criticized the government over what they said would endanger Armenia's vital alliance with Russia.
"The government thought not to jeopardize its security relations with Russia by signing a partnership agreement with EU," he said.
Giragosian emphasized that Armenia houses a Russian military base in the region and is a member of Commonwealth of Independent States, a regional organization of former Soviet Republics which coordinates trade, finance, lawmaking and security in member states.
Dependence on Russia
Over the past two decades, following the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia has been one of the most Russia-dependent countries in the region. Russian businessmen control many parts of Armenia's private sector, from energy to infrastructure, and railway to communications.
The energy sector in particular reveals Armenia's dependence on Russia. All natural gas imports are under the control of Russian state-run energy company Gazprom.
Russia sells its gas to Armenia with a 50 percent discount in comparison to other European countries, thus making Armenia dependent on Russia with regards to its energy sector.
"Armenia's dependence has gradually been increasing over the last ten years, which has impacted Sargsyan’s decision," said Giragosian, adding that economic relations between the two were unilateral and asymmetric.
EEU's economic and political impact
Armenia's membership of the EEU also raised questions over how the country's economy would be impacted. Giragosian agrees with other experts who think membership would harm Armenia's economy.
Membership would increase Armenia's attachment to Russia, he said, adding: "It will have negative impacts on Armenia's economy, there will be increases in prices and the country's internal market will be under the control of Russian businessmen."
Armenia's renunciation of a partnership with the EU will undermine reforms in the country as well as undermine cooperation with European countries in the field of defense, Giragosian said.
"Armenia, for now, has closed its doors to EU, but it has not locked them," he said, urging Europe to find new alternatives to boost ties with Armenia.
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