Association Agreement Unlikely, EU Suggests

The EU has signaled reluctance to sign the Association Agreement with Armenia in light of Yerevan's decision to join the Eurasian Cusoms Union

BRUSSELS (RFE/RL)—The European Union indicated on Friday its reluctance to accept Armenia’s offer to renegotiate a planned Association Agreement with the EU that followed President Serzh Sarkisian’s unexpected pledge to join an ex-Soviet bloc led by Russia.

“In light of Armenia’s declared choice to join the Customs Union it is difficult to imagine the initialing at Vilnius summit in November of the Association Agreement with Armenia as it had been negotiated,” EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said after talks with visiting Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.

“Based on the information we presently have, the compatibility of obligations to the Customs Union with those under an Association Agreement/DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area) with the EU looks problematic,” Fuele added in a statement.

The statement made no explicit mention of the Armenian government’s hopes to finalize a significantly watered-down version of the agreement that would not include the DCFTA, its most important and substantive segment. Nalbandian flew to Brussels on Thursday in an effort to convince the executive European Commission to accept such a compromise.

A statement on Nalbandian’s talks with Fuele issued by the Armenian Foreign Ministry also reported no concrete understandings to that effect. It said only that he and Fuele agreed to “continue the intensive consultations between Armenia and the European Union.”

Fuele noted that the European Commission is also holding such consultations with EU member governments that ultimately decide the foreign policy of the 28-nation union. He said the EU’s executive body believes that “it is in the interest of all to further strengthen together with Armenia what we have jointly achieved over the past years of partnership.”

Fuele is scheduled to travel to Yerevan on September 12 to attend a meeting of the foreign ministers of former Soviet republics eligible for association agreements with the EU. He will almost certainly meet Sarkisian.

Meanwhile, Yerevan’s last-minute volte-face was criticized on Thursday by the European People’s Party (EPP), a coalition of Europe’s leading center-right political groups. In a resolution adopted during a meeting in Brussels, the EPP Political Assembly said it “regrets the decision of the Armenian President to join the Eurasian Customs Union, which undermines the achievements of Armenia towards the EU.” It said membership in the Russian-led union is “incompatible with concluding the Association Agreement.”

The EPP resolution also accuses Russia of forcing Armenia into a trade bloc which the Kremlin regards as the backbone of a future Eurasian Union of ex-Soviet states. “The Eurasian Union is an instrument being used by the Russian leadership to prevent neighboring countries enhancing their integration with Europe in order to maintain them as Russian satellite states,” it says.

Two senior members of Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia, which is affiliated with the EPP, criticized the resolution. One of them, Education Minister Armen Ashotian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on the sidelines of the EPP meeting, “Forces regarding Armenia as an object of rivalry cannot be our long-term partners.”

The EPP criticism is all the more remarkable given a warm personal rapport that has existed until now between EPP President Wilfried Martens and Sarkisian. Martens raised eyebrows in Armenian opposition circles with strong support for the ruling HHK voiced during Armenia’s last presidential and parliamentary elections. The former Belgian prime minister also hailed Sarkisian’s hotly disputed reelection last February, saying that “the country’s democratization process will be further enhanced.”

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6 Comments

  1. Pingback: Yerevan Says Association Agreement With EU Still Possible – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty - Members of the European Union

  2. George said:

    How come Armenia gets attention in Western media only when it spits in their faces?

  3. Pingback: European Union not to initial agreement on association with Armenia – Trend.az - Members of the European Union

  4. gaytzag palandjian said:

    As I pointed out at AW web page,if pres.Serge Sargsyan has received -in return-a good package of compensations,shall we say from mother Russia,such as gas,gasoline aviation gasoline cost breaks,plus other customs duties exemptions,for entering into that agreement, then it ought to regrded as a positive move.Also there was talk and or confirmation that Armneian dis sign*prior to this one with Russia,one such Agreement with EU,then that is automatically in favour of RA.In short,Agreements to join both EU Assoc. and also with the commonwealth of independent states.And why not.Why should either of these two giants be so antagonistic w/ea other.Fact is some dya these two SHOULD ALSO CONSIDER JOINING UP!!!!

  5. ronnie said:

    In Serge’s deffense,the Eu is both toothless and spineless when it comes to politics : it only does what the US tell it to.(directly or indirectly)
    Brussels has so much bureaucratic red tape thant it make the byzantine look super efficient.
    Also their debt level is very high and the only countries thriving are the germans/germanics and northerners wich have a very good work ethic without the union to start with.
    Their banking system is inefficient and contaminated with all the evil the Us banks have spread around except that they are too innocent or correct to run their printing presses like the US feds are to devaluate their debt.
    Granted human rights and democratic principles are better than any other place but to a level of unproductivity and inefficiency.
    Iran has more oumpf and personality.
    More trade with EVERYONE is what Armenia needs and not getting married to a single system.

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