EU Says Armenia Blocked Free-Trade Deal

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius

VILNIUS, Lithuania (Agence France Presse)—Armenia has blocked its chances of signing a free trade deal with the European Union by choosing to join the Russia-led customs union, EU president Lithuania said Tuesday.

The EU respects the decision announced by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian in Moscow earlier Tuesday, but the two systems are incompatible, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told AFP.

“We respect any choice of countries but they cannot enter both organizations at the same time because of different tariff requirements,” he said.

After meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Sarkisian said he had decided to join the 2010 Customs Union that Moscow currently shares with ex-Soviet Belarus and Kazakhstan.

According to Putin’s vision, the Russian-led Customs Union, is the foundation of a future Eurasian economic union with its own executive body and a single currency.

Armenia had been poised to initial an association and free trade agreement with EU at a November summit in Vilnius with six post-Soviet states grouped in the Brussels-oriented Eastern Partnership program.

Lithuania, which took over the six-month rotating EU presidency in July, has actively promoted the partnership.

Launched in 2009, it is aimed at bringing post-Soviet Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia closer to the EU, something which Moscow sees as encroaching on its sphere of influence.

Vilnius University analyst Vytis Jurkonis said Tuesday Armenia’s move was “part of the bigger game” by Russia which has recently warned Ukraine and Moldova that deals with EU may harm their economic ties with Moscow.

“Russia is increasing pressure on Eastern Partnership countries so they do not sign association treaties” with Brussels, Jurkonis told AFP.

In a separate statement on Tuesday, Linkevicius and seven other ministers from Nordic and Baltic countries warned against Russian pressure on post-Soviet states.

“Any economic threat or political pressure directed against Eastern partners because of their European aspirations and engagement with the EU is unacceptable,” they said.

Russia has for years tried to get neighbouring Ukraine to join the Customs Union.

Kiev has so far resisted the pressure and hopes to sign a landmark political and economic agreement with the EU at the Vilnius summit.

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9 Comments

  1. Gary_S said:

    Economically Armenia would be better off with the EU. However, Russia wouldn’t like this cause the EU’s objective is to build an oil pipeline through Armenia–if Armenia gave up Karabagh to keep the Azeris happy. the Russian bear doesn’t like the oil pipeline through Armenia. It would leave Armenia and Turkey would be in the next day–another genocide.

  2. lobo said:

    “Any economic threat or political pressure directed against Eastern partners because of their European aspirations and engagement with the EU is unacceptable,” they said.

    Got to live the EU. Great aspirations, but backing them up? No, thank you. If this was unacceptable, you would probably do something about this exact thing happening. Since you aren’t, we have to assume that on your language unacceptable means acceptable, since you are right now accepting Russia pressuring Armenia into signing this agreement. Well, at least Russia is an honest bully rather than a two-faced, inconsequent and weak gathering of know-it-all losers.

  3. www.Voskanapat.info said:

    EU is a member of WTO
    Russia is a member of WTO
    Armenia is a member of WTO

    Can somebody explain us why EU is threatening Armenia? What other economic agreement do they need to import Artsakh potatoes?
    The pressure on Armenia is real but it is coming from the NATO imposed economic blockade!!

  4. Armenian Christian said:

    Thank GOD!!! Screw the europeans…. they can have the turks…. there more similliar to eachother anyways…

  5. Hratch said:

    This all happened because the corrupt officials in Armenia could not stand the scrutiny of the western system. To continue their corrupt ways, they sided with the Russian corrupt system.

  6. ThinkDeep said:

    Anyone who disagrees with what Armenia and Sargsyan did does not understand the situation and geopolitics of that area. Armenia is a loyal country, unlike Georgia/Azerbaijan who have shown not to have a back bone, and Russians know this very well. Sargsyan played his cards very well.. cozying up to the EU (and still maintaining this relation), while appeasing the Russians at the last minute and in the process gaining an advantageous gas deal and I’m certain perhaps military deal to counter the Azeri-Russian deal. The Armenian authorities knew the entire time that the Customs Union was the only option they really had if they did not want to find themselves in a vulnerable position, but showed interest in signing with the EU to get a get a better playing hand from Moscow. This is what it means to be a good politician and leader. U.S. politicians do this all the time. If everyone knows what your next move is going to be, they can use your predictability against you. Mr. Sarkissian plays the political role very well, smiling in the face of his enemies, giving up small advantages for greater future advantages. Think about the Safarov case, sure he could have ripped his ass and made sure Safarov never left Hungary, but he intentionally let him get away with murder, as a propoganda tool against the Azeri regime. Aliyev was stupid enough to fall into this trap. Sargsyan’s middle name is “the fox” by all means. He may not be a great president for the people of Armenia but he plays the geopolitical game well, and Russia recognizes this. Now if only he can do something about the oligarchs and corruption in Armenia, it will be smooth sailing. There’s only so much that can be done for a small land-locked country like Armenia with no resources that is surrounded by enemies.

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