BY NAIR ALIYEV
Armenia is concerned and will oppose the possible entry of Azerbaijan into the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). This was directly stated by the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to Russia, Vardan Toganyan. According to him, 'if Azerbaijan comes forward with the initiative to join the EAEU, then Armenia will have its own dissenting opinion' (quoted by Interfax).
Talks about Azerbaijan's accession to the EAEU became more active after the recent statements by the famous Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov who visited Baku. According to Solovyov, the Azerbaijan possible joining the EAEU very seriously changes the alignment of forces, including the railway to Iran and the oil capabilities of the republic - 'with them there will be a completely different alignment.'
'It's too early to say what kind of opinion Armenia will have. Depends, in particular, on the specific initiative that Azerbaijan takes: whether it wants to become an observer or a full member, and we will also form our position, and we will have it on this issue,' said the Armenian diplomat.
But is the Eurasian Economic Union so attractive for Azerbaijan? After all, there are political and economic components.
It is worth remembering that just a few days ago President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev called on to raise the economies of all the members of the EAEU to one level. According to him, the mechanisms of the Eurasian Economic Union will work more effectively, if the economies of all participating countries are approximately at the same level.
'It turns out that states that are objectively poorer hope that others will help them. But this does not happen, in a market economy, no one gives anything for nothing. These expectations exist, perhaps, there are disappointments. We need to work, everyone of us,' he said. (And here there is a clear hint at Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, which are the weakest links in the EAEU - Ed.).
Just the other day the American edition The National Interest asked a question: Will the Eurasian Economic Union fall apart? According to the authors of the publication, Russia is trying to create an alternative to the European Union, which successfully promotes the neighbourhood policy and offers the Eastern Partnership project aimed at interaction with the former Soviet republics. 'In other words, Moscow is trying to create an institution to consolidate its influence in Eurasia, uniting the fragments of the non-existent empire.'
'Kazakhstan, which has the longest border with Russia among its neighbours, intends to gain a foothold in the region and act as a serious political and economic player. Moreover, for Astana, rapprochement with Moscow is a counterbalance to the growing influence of China. Armenia has no common borders with any of the countries of the EAEU. Moreover, economic and trade relations with Russia are being implemented through neighbouring Georgia, as the western and eastern borders are blocked by Turkey and Azerbaijan. Therefore, in Yerevan, the EAEU is considered exclusively within the framework of strengthening military and political ties with Russia. In the meantime, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan are seeking economic and financial dividends from Russia and Kazakhstan for their internal needs,' writes the American publication.
In general terms, serious political, economic and civilisational conflicts arise among the countries of the Eurasian bloc. For example, Kazakhstan is a member of the Turkic Council, of which Turkey and Azerbaijan are members - 'historical enemies of Armenia.' Astana actively lobbies pro-Turkish and pro-Azerbaijani interests in the EAEU, limiting Russia's intention to provide unilateral support to Yerevan.
Belarus, as the American edition notes, wants to expand the political and economic dialogue with Azerbaijan.
On the difficulties that the EAEU is experiencing, Zamir Karazhanov, a Kazakhstani political scientist, told in a conversation with Azeri Daily.
'There are problems for any integration association; the EAEU is not an exception... From time to time, there are economic disputes between the EAEU countries, which indicate some problems and contradictions. There are cases of non-tariff methods of regulating foreign trade by individual member states of the EAEU, attempts to protect their producers. This is not a reason for criticising integration, but an excuse to solve problems,' believes the Kazakh expert.
In any case, it is obvious that even if Armenia tries to prevent Azerbaijan from joining the EAEU, it will not work. The maximum that Yerevan can do is to express its 'dissenting opinion.' Another question is how much Azerbaijan is interested in the Eurasian Economic Union and how real players in the EAEU are interested in Azerbaijan. Armenia's opinion, as noted above, may not be taken into account.
The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration economic association, which now includes Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.