Hrant Bagratyan: Decision on joining the Customs Union should be made through a referendum

Lusine Vasilyan
Public Radio of Armenia

Ex-Prime Minister, member of the Armenian National Congress Hrant Bagratyan considers that the decision to join the Customs Union should be made through a referendum. The referendum will legitimize the decision, irrespective of the outcome. “We have no other way of expression of people’s will,” Bagratyan told a pres conference today.

“I have the only man to say that anything related to the foreign policy should be decided through a referendum,” Hrant Bagratyan reminded. He does not support either the European Union or the Eurasian Union. “I’ve said that if we deepen the relations with the EU, we’ll be forced into the Customs Union,” Bagratyan said.

Today the ex-PM considers that there is no alternative to the Customs Union. Meanwhile, according to Bagratyan, the greatest problem in the relations with the EU is now the loss of trust.

“The Customs Union is a complex structure. Where the energy exporters and importers meet, it becomes hard to balance the interests: any solutions meet the interests of either the exporter, or the importer. Joining a structure, where two of the three members are energy producers will simply mean closing Armenia’s economy. We’ll find ourselves in an area, where the tariffs will rise four times,” he said.

According to Bagratyan, one of the first demands of Armenia should be the maintenance of the current tariffs and an opportunity to have a transit period to adjust the economy to changing conditions, avoid collapse and get maximally convenient conditions. Another issue is to take steps to neutralize the negative effect of the customs unions for energy importing countries,” he said.

Bagratyan is confident that it’s impossible to imagine the Customs Union without a common currency in the future. According to the ex-Prime Minister, all these issues need detailed consideration, preferably by a specialized commission.

There will be positive influences aside from negative ones, Bagratyyan believes. “The production of cognac and wine will continue to flourish, the Russian investments will increase.”

“We’re entering a cruel stage, which requires a very intensive work with the Russian side,” Bargaryan concluded.

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