Opposition sees EAEU as a lever to overthrow Sargsyan

Haykakan Zhamanak
Opposition sees EAEU as a lever to overthrow Sargsyan

As autumn kicks off, Armenia’s parliamentary opposition once again brings up a topic of withdrawal from the EAEU. The Elk (Withdrawal) faction’s proposal "On the beginning of the process of termination of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union for Armenia" has been submitted to the National Assembly (Parliament) of the country for consideration. According to the faction members, the justification for Armenia's withdrawal from the EAEU is a decline of socio-economic indicators, barriers to development of the economic relations with third countries, including the direct neighbors - Georgia and Iran.

As expected, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) opposed this initiative and assured that not all the Elk members support it, but the vice speaker of the Armenian parliament, Eduard Sharmazanov, stated that the Armenian state also opposes the withdrawal from the Eurasian Economic Union, as foreign policy vectors of the country do not need revision. However, the head of the second largest parliamentary party, Prosperous Armenia, is of a different opinion. Gagik Tsarukyan stated that he had instructed the MPs - members of his party to discuss the Elk’s project for better understanding what can be done with the 200-million EAEU market. "There is nothing impossible, we need to examine and discuss this proposal,” Tsarukyan said.

However, the Armenian media found another thread, allegedly linking this opposition’s initiative with a life-long rule of Serzh Sargsyan. The newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak writes: "The beginning of the second session of the National Assembly of the 6th convocation did not cause much excitement in the political life of the republic. In fact, there was no excitement at all. The agenda of our country’s political life remains excessively scarce, and there are several reasons for this. First, it is impossible to fill it with fake and far-fetched processes, focus public attention on them, give an appearance that something is happening in the domestic political life of the country, and to surprise everyone when chips are down.

As a rule, at each such stage Armenian citizens understood that the ongoing processes were posed, and each time there were more disappointed. Unlike this political tradition, formed in Armenia in recent years, this time everything is more definite, clear and simple. And it turns out, that we are entering the political autumn with two issues on the agenda: the Yelk’s proposal on the beginning of the process of termination of Armenia's membership in the EAEU and the question who will become the Prime Minister of Armenia, that is from now on - the country's first person after April 2018, when the second term of Serzh Sargsyan's rule will come to an end. The first of these two issues is a political issue to some extent, and the second one concerns formally only the RPA. As the RPA’s leader Gagik Tsarukyan  stated correctly,  during the past parliamentary elections people gave their own votes to the RPA on various motivations, thereby vesting the party with authority until 2022. And whom the RPA considers suitable for this role is an internal problem of the party.

On the other hand, this issue and the Elk’s proposal, which also contains a foreign policy element, are interrelated and form the country's only domestic political agenda. And although there is only one agenda, and the number of political players is strictly limited, the combinations possible in the process of its promotion are quite diverse. For example, if the Elk manages to get public support for the initiative to withdraw from the EAEU, it can be turned into a concrete action, which will shake the RPA's position. This will mean that the citizens’ opinion who voted for the RPA has changed, and they no longer support the authorities that made Armenia part of the EAEU. And such a statement will entail political consequences.

It is assumed that the position of Armenians will always be in a favor of the EAEU, but the poll conducted by the Analytical Center for Globalization and Regional Studies shows that this is an overly exaggerated belief. According to the results of this survey, the public sentiment is on the border between the EAEU and European integration, and it is also not so unambiguous that the citizens of Armenia unconditionally trust Russia and their country’s security and prosperity is associated with it.

So, despite the opinion that the Elk’s initiative is doomed, there are quite feasible chances to make the real changes in the country. There is no sphere on the agenda of Armenia's public life, which the political forces would not try to use as a basis for the political changes. Time has shown that sympathy for the ruling party is much greater than discontent with injustice and other problems.

The issue of Armenia’s choice of geopolitical poles was not included to the agenda by any political force. At least, there were no such discussions in the parliament. Today, all oppositional and non-governmental forces in Armenia are solidary in one issue - their demand that the power change in the country must be formed in society first, and then a corresponding order should be handed over to the political forces. As long as such process does not exist, talks about the change of power or inadmissibility of Serzh Sargsyan will remain in the framework of idle talks.

Moreover, the question whether Serzh Sargsyan will become the Prime Minister, or the RPA will appoint someone else to this post, has rather aesthetic than political significance. And it turns out that the Elk’s initiative to change the Armenian foreign policy adopted by Serzh Sargsyan can become the only basis for the change of power in Armenia in the foreseeable future.

Let's hope that the political debate on this issue will be bolder than before, because, after all, we as the citizens of Armenia really need serious justifications, arguments and counter-arguments about what Armenia will actually lose and gain after a withdrawal from the Russian integration association or Russian security system, " the newpaper concludes.