EU Wants Clarification from Armenia

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BRUSSELS—The European Union said Wednesday that it would seek clarification on Armenia‘s decision to join a Russia-backed customs union, after years of free trade negotiations with the 28-member bloc, Europe Online reports.

“We look forward to understanding better from Armenia what their intentions are,” said Peter Stano, the spokesman for EU Commissioner Stefan Fule, who is responsible for neighborhood policy.

He said the European Commission will ask Yerevan how it planned to “ensure compatibility” with the association and free trade agreement it sought with the EU.

“Once this consultation has been completed, we will draw our conclusions on the way forward,” Stano added.

Diplomats have previously expressed skepticism about the possibility of a country entering into a free trade agreement with the EU as well as the customs union initiated by Russia.

Moscow and Brussels have been vying for influence over six former Soviet countries that the EU is seeking closer ties with under its Eastern Partnership program.

After more than three years of negotiations, Armenia had been expected to initial its agreement with the EU at a key November summit, which is also being attended by Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

But on Tuesday Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement from Moscow declaring Yerevan‘s intention to join the customs union formed by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The ultimate aim would be the formation of a Eurasian Economic Union, the presidents said.

EU lawmaker Gunnar Hoekmark, who specializes in EU neighborhood policies, said Armenia was “turning away from Europe.”

“With this step, the prospects for democracy will be weakened and the risk of increased Russian influence over its neighbors will increase,” Hoekmark said.

Despite Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union, Chief of the Armenian Presidential Staff Vigen Sargsyan has re-affirmed Armenia’s commitment to the initialing of an association agreement with the European Union at the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, this November.

In an interview with RFE/RL, Vigen Sargsyan noted that the decision Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian announced following his meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin did not at all mean refusal from an association agreement with the EU.

“At his joint press conference with the Russian president, the president [of Armenia] re-stated that the political reforms we were implementing with our European partners’ support were of paramount importance for Armenia. We are deeply committed to continuing the reforms and reaching the political goals envisaged by our cooperation with the European Union,” Sargsyan said.

In regards to the opinion that membership in the Customs Union may prove to be an obstacle to the creation of a deep and comprehensive free trade area, he said:

“Armenia’s position is well known. We have always tried to combine commitments and cooperate with both partners. If we are told it is impossible, we remain committed to the most important component of our dialogue with European structures. In our opinion, it is a political dialogue and promotion of reforms in the country to modernize social and political culture and create stable government institutions. With this end in view, we will do our best to be prepared to initial the association agreement at the Vilnius Summit.”

Sargsyan refuted the claims that Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union was made under pressure.

“Armenia has no partners that would talk to it by means of pressure, blackmail or ultimatums,” he said.

“Armenia expressed its interest in the Customs Union as soon as the process got under way. Armenia pointed out the absence of a common border with the Customs Union. A number of expert meetings were held, and experts drafted solutions to ensure Armenia’s efficient membership in the Customs Union, even with common borders lacking.

“So the decision was made in Armenia’s interests, with the country’s economic pattern and economic development prospects considered. The goal of Armenia’s dialogue with the EU has always been modernizing the government system and promoting democratic reforms.

“We remain committed to those goals and we want to continue a full-scale dialogue,” Sargsyan said.

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15 Comments

  1. arziv said:

    Democratic reforms ? the panacea of all panaceas. What kind of democratic reforms are we refering to ? It is a very vague and abstract concept. The pantheon of democratic governments have in the last 20 years demonstrated their ” democratic zeal” by bombing nations, by invading nations, and destroying them in the process all in the name of ” democracy”. It is high time we leave melliflous sounding phrases and pavlovian reflexive coined words and start spelling out what it is really meant. Every self respecting, sovereign ,nation today claims to be a paragon of democracy. Even North Korea claims to practice democracy in its purest form. As for America, well it is the B52 bomber democracy and their lethal democratic payloads. Let’s spell out what is democracy, what is the perception of democracy and how best to practice it in Armenia instead of being bewitched and dazzled by the simple sound of the word . We do not even know the dramatic, sinister, ? ” democratic” conditions Armenia is supposed to adhere to become an associate to the EU ? Democratic reforms ? Is that the only price Armenia has to pay to receive a smile from the EU ?

  2. From Russia Without Love said:

    It’s very simple.

    1. When the need for Europe presented itself in the time of need for Armenians, Europe promptly abandoned Armenia time and time again in history.

    2. Europe is pathetic, spineless and untrustable, as is evident with their Turkocentrism.

    3. The formerly high European values are worthy of a sewer today, and Armenians do not share them.

    4. Russia “protects” itself through Armenia, a 90% gain for Russia, and 10% gain for Armenia.

    5. Russia “owns” Armenia through under the table deals and control of Armenia’s infrastructure.

    6. Russia has lately on more than one occasion “hinted” that Armenia better abandon Europe and stick with its original enabler for its existence in the face of extremist, pan-Turkist brutes, which Europe is all to glad to kiss the behind of.

    7. If Armenia does not follow the bear’s request, it may promptly get manhandled like Georgia, while the sissy Europeans sit by and watch and pass worthless resolutions.

    Do you need further explanation?

    I hope one of you wuss Europeans reads this and takes this message to your leader.

  3. Shahe Mazbanian said:

    It’s sad to see Armenia so much under the influence of Russia. On one hand it receives security from its ally on the other it looses its freedom to make decisions that is better in the long run for its fledging economy. The Russian Union can’t be compared to the European Union. But somehow the leaders in Armenia came to the conclusion that this is better. I haven’t seen any studies or arguments as to why. It also hinders the diaspora from investing in Armenia , start businesses. Because the diaspora is more prone to work under the European Union with its laws and customs rather then the one created by Russia. Once again, I don’t see what Armenia has to gain, other then security. That answes why they agreed. Wish the Armenian people the best!

  4. Alex Postallian said:

    Lets do the math……….What has the E.U. done for Armenia…..Most of its members,have been kissing turkeys as–,denying the ARMENIAN GENOCIDE…A true historical fact to please a country that makes hitler look like an altar boy,in treatment of their minorities.The under lying problems in the Middle East,with their sneaky support of the non Syrian rebel force,in Syria i.e.their little bastard brother azerbaturk. Too much a COWARD to confront Syria..

  5. Hratch said:

    C’mon…what explanation does the EU want? You mean to tell me that seasoned diplomats in Europe are not capable of figuring out what the garbage collector already explained to me!

  6. vartan said:

    ARMENIA IS NOT A SLAVE NATION. WHICH IS BEEN TREATED AS A TOY BETWEEN EURPOE AND RUSSIA. STOP PLAYING WITH US. WE DONT NEED EURPOS IRRATIONAL AND STUPIED POLICES, AND ALSO WE DONT NEED RUSSIAN ORIENTED BACKWARD POLICES. ARMENIA CAN AND WILL MAKE AND EXECUT POLICES WHICH SUITS IT NATIONAL INTEREST. KEEP YOUR HAND OFF ARMENIA

  7. zograp said:

    Առանց Ռուսաստան Հայաստանը կկործանվի, ուշքի եկեք:Եվրոպան կտանի մեզ մեծ կորուստ, չի կարելի մատների արանքով նայել այս հարցին, կկորցնենք ամեն ինչ՝ սկսած մեր ազգային արժեքներից և ՍՐԲՈՒԹՅՈՒՆՆԵՐԻՑ: Արդեն ձեզ գենդեր են հրամեցնում, իսկ թե Եվրոպայի չարիքների սկիզբն է (մասոնների մեծ կործանարար ծրագրի): Ժողովուրդ, մի հրապուրվեք այդ գունավոր Եվրոպայով, երբ ուշքի գաք, շատ ուշ կլինի… Դեմ՝ Եվրոպա… Կողմ՝ Ռուսաստան…

  8. Pingback: Jilting EU, Armenia Ties Knot With Moscow – Wall Street Journal - Members of the European Union

  9. GeorgeMardig said:

    To belong to EU is the first step to belong to NATO, and Russia can’t take that chance, can anybody see Spain or France to be in EU and not in NATO?, though in theory it is voluntary.

  10. bedros said:

    The West cannot be trusted. We don’t need arrogant and unreliable partners.
    The West would be happy to manoeuvre Artsakh down the river.
    Security reasons direct us to deal with the devil we know than the devil we don’t know.

  11. Pingback: EU loses Armenia to Russia’s Customs Union – EurActiv - Members of the European Union

  12. Art said:

    The statement below is from an article posted on Radio Free Europe on Thursday, September 05, 2013 titled News Analysis: Armenia’s Choice Stirs Competition Between Moscow, EU

    The statement below is very accurate and pertinent. Our leaders in Armenia–caving into extreme pressure imposed by the Russian government have chosen the path to backwards, while other post Soviet states such as Ukraine and Georgia will eventually go into the 21st century. Exclusive dependency on Russia for military and economic purposes is a death sentence for a sovereign state. While corrupt officials in Armenia were looking for quick and dirty ways to make big bucks by selling virtually all of Armenia’s major infrastructures to Russia, Russia’s grip on Armenia tightened.

    “Regarding the Armenian statement, I think that those who seek cheap natural gas instead of advanced technologies will live in the 20th century, while all the civilized world will go into the 21st century,” said Serhiy Sobolev, a Ukrainian parliament member and deputy head of the opposition Fatherland (Batkivshchyna) faction. “I think the Armenian people will make their choice, when they understand, as the people of Kazakhstan and Belarus have already understood, what Russia pulled them into.”

    • Setta said:

      Does no one remember that it was the Russians who first went into space with the Sputnik? The Soviet Union was always pushing ahead with technology. Perhaps Putin is trying to find some equilibrium in the Russian economy, eg., concentrating on resource development first and then move forward to technological development. He’s said to be a great admirer of the Israelis tech acumen.

      In any case, Armenian Christians don’t have the same cultural values as Europeans. The brutal honesty of Putin may do us far more good than the craven hypocrisy of Merkel and Hollande. And there’s also the notion that Turkey and Azerbaijan would be somewhat neutralized if Armenia were to develop alliances amongst the Central Asian Turkic nations that the former two couldn’t meddle with.

  13. armenian said:

    It’s so sad to see the bizarre and out-of-this world adoration for anything that Russia does. Armenians have not only accepted the slave mentality politically, but it seems we have already taken on our role as servants on the individual level, too. I can see that this is now beginning of the end for us…

  14. Gary_S said:

    AlL EU wants is pipeline through Armenia. When that happens, the Russian bear will abandon us and then another genocide.

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