Sarkisian Calls for EU Pressure On Turkey

President Serzh Sarkisian (L) at a news conference in Chisinau.

CHISINAU, Moldova—Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian at a news conference in Chisinau has urged the European Union to press Turkey to normalize relations with Armenia, saying that the closed border between the two neighboring states will hamper the implementation of Yerevan’s forthcoming Association Agreement with the EU.

“Within the framework of the [EU’s] Eastern Partnership, Armenia attaches great importance to ending the practice of closed borders,” Sarkisian said during a visit to Moldova late on Thursday.

“The agreement on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which is currently being negotiated with the European Union, cannot work in full, after coming into force, if the Armenian-Turkish border remains closed. We think that the European Union should seriously address the issue of closed borders because their existence cannot make trade with the EU’s customs union effective,” he said.

The Armenian leader referred to the customs union of the EU member states and Turkey that came into effect in 1996, abolishing virtually all trade barriers. The DCFTA is a similar arrangement that will be a key element of the Armenia-EU Association Agreement.

The EU has long been advocating an unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. Accordingly, it strongly backed normalization protocols signed by Ankara and Yerevan in 2009. The Turkish government makes their parliamentary ratification conditional on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan. The Armenian side rejects this precondition.

EU leaders have likewise called for an unconditional implementation of the protocols. But they do not seem to have raised the matter in ongoing talks on Turkey’s membership of the EU.

The European Union’s Eastern Partnership program for Armenia and five other former Soviet republics is not designed to weaken their links with Russia or any other state, Sarkisian insisted late on Thursday.

“From our perspective, the Eastern Partnership is an initiative aimed at creating cooperation rather than differences. It is not directed against any state or grouping of states. This partnership is aimed at finally overcoming division lines,” he said during a visit to Moldova.

Sarkisian was speaking at a joint news conference in Chisinau with the leaders of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia whose parties are affiliated with the European People’s Party (EPP). They, as well as EPP President Wilfried Martens, addressed the media after discussing preparations for an EU summit on the Eastern Partnership due in November. The EU is expected to finalize “association agreements” with Armenia, Georgia and Moldova during that summit.

Sarkisian’s remarks came amid signs that Russia, which has viewed the Eastern Partnership with suspicion, is unhappy with Armenia’s plans to conclude the association accord and hence avoid joining a proposed Eurasia Union of ex-Soviet states loyal to Moscow.

In an interview published on Monday, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, until recently Russia’s ambassador to Armenia, warned that Yerevan will undermine its close ties with Moscow if it steers clear of the Russian-led union. Konstantin Zatulin, a prominent Russian pundit and former parliamentarian, likewise criticized “the disdainful attitude to the Eurasian integration project in Armenia” on Thursday.

“The West is competing with Russia, trying to impede any integration processes in the Eurasian space,” Zatulin told the Regnum news agency. “He who sides with our competitor will face consequences of that choice,” he warned.

The Russian government has so far issued no such warnings in public. Sarkisian insisted in March that Yerevan is not under Russian pressure to promise membership of the Eurasian Union.

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9 Comments

  1. Gazzo said:

    Sargisian well meaning intentions will fall on deaf ears. The EU will never, never pressure Turkey, the converse can be a more understanding proposition. Neither will The USA put pressure on Turkey. It is political waffle, it is fine that it is asked for, it must be asked for, knowing that it will not be followed up. Turkey is a key component of the USA Israel strategic interest in the region. Armenia does not feature in their configuration as anything but an obstacle to their strategic realizations in the region, therefore nothing good can be expected from the EU, nor of the USA. In aiding or assisting Armenia existence, certainly when Turkish interests are involved.

  2. GeorgeMardig said:

    It is to the benefit of Armenians to have the Turkish border closed until they recgonize the Genocide, and the protcol is dumpped

  3. Pingback: Tорговля с ЕС не будет эффективной при блокаде Армении | karap.lv

  4. German_in_Yerevan said:

    I think it is a tad naive to suppose that Mr. Kovalenko’s statement was not coordinated with Moscow and Yerevan and at the highest echelons at that… This is good news!

    Armenia is important to Russia but it is not crucial (i.e: The Kremlin will still stand with or without the swan lake at Tumanyan khajmeruk Teryan) and so it is best to achieve a viable compromise to the Karabakh issue and normalize relations with both Turkey and Azerbaijan while Armenia still has the upper hand. If the former Yugoslav Republic could get over their ancient animosities and prejudices surely you can too!

  5. mgl said:

    Who needs open border with Turkey? Europe didn’t save Armenia, Russia did and still does.

  6. GB said:

    Mongolian Turks are not part of European civilization…Turks understand the language of force. The Central Asian genes, still very much alive in their veins. This fake, donkey head nation occupied an important part of our planet and calling themselves as part of Europe. Another million years will come, Turks will be always turks, who are unwanted in Europe, Middle East, and even in Muslim world!!

  7. Haik said:

    Per Sarkisian’s call on Turkey’s closed border: Turkey, keep your damn border closed! But don’t speak of Karabakh before returning Western Armenia to Armenia with restitution and not only from you, but also the nations that supported you for the last 150 years; your current status was achieved through the law of the jungle, and those who supported you to strive in the jungle are just as culpable, if not more, for the Genocide on Armenia. Once you go through that process and receive your diploma of admitting your crimes, then you may get involved with Karabakh; but for now you’re still a jungle animal and jungle animals do not possess the faculties to be on peace negations table….

  8. AL said:

    Hmm what do you guys think? Is this EU agreement worth messing with our close relationship with Russia?

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