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Armenian, Kyrgyz Customs Union Plans Outlined

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian (right) and the chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Viktor Khristenko sign a memorandum on increased cooperation between the EEC and Armenia in Yerevan in November. The deal should help pave the way to the integration of Armenia into the Russia-led Customs Union. (file photo)
YEREVAN/BISHKEK -- Armenia's prime minister says an agreement on his country's joining a Russia-led Customs Union will be ready by May.

Talking to journalists in Yerevan on December 27, Tigran Sarkisian said the agreement is expected to be ratified by the parliament of Armenia and those of the Customs Union's member states -- Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus -- in June.

Sarkisian added that Armenia's plans to join the Customs Union do not contradict its cooperation with the European Union.

Yerevan announced its intention to join the Customs Union in September.

The EU has said Yerevan cannot pursue an Association Agreement with the bloc if it is also a member of the Customs Union.

Meanwhile, Ali Hasanov of the Azerbaijani president's office told the Trend news agency on December 27 that Baku opposes Yerevan's plans to join the Customs Union before the conflict over Azerbaijan's breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region is resolved.

Kyrgyz Customs Union Road Map Ready By Spring

Meanwhile, in related news, Kyrgyzstan's deputy prime minister says a new road map outlining the steps needed to join a Russia-led Customs Union will be prepared by spring.

But Joomart Otorbaev told journalists in Bishkek on December 27 that additional work will postpone membership for at least another year.

Otorbaev added that Kyrgyzstan needs $200 million from the Customs Union to support its markets and borders.

Kyrgyz officials announced a decision to join the Customs Union last year.

President Almazbek Atambaev said earlier this month, however, that Kyrgyzstan will not join the union based on a road map that ignores his country’s interests.

Moscow has said that the union, which was launched in 2011, will be widened into a Eurasian Economic Union, modeled after the European Union, by 2015.

With reporting by Trend