Armenian prime minister Hrant Bagratian and Russian minister for CIS Cooperation Valery Serov have agreed to establish a bilateral commission to work out the process and terms of Armenian membership in the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan customs union. Serov said that Armenia’s accession to the customs union would contribute to the other members’ "efforts to resist the expansion of foreign producers" on CIS markets. On his visit to Yerevan, Serov also agreed to the continuation of assistance to Armenia’s Medzamor nuclear power plant. (Interfax, April 19)
Armenia has been wary of joining the Russia-led customs union, mainly on the grounds that protectionist measures would increase prices for most major consumer goods on the internal Armenian market. Those industrial interest groups in Armenia which gravitate economically and politically toward Russia have not managed to prevail against that view. Levon Zurabian, aide to President Levon Ter-Petrosian, commented recently that Armenia’s priorities in cooperating with Russia and the CIS differ from those of certain other CIS countries: while those countries are mainly interested in economic ties with Russia, Armenia is interested primarily in military and security cooperation. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, April 4)
Kazakhstan’s Communist Party Faces Ban.