EU Lawmakers Accuse Russia of Pressuring Armenia

The European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France

STRASBOURG (RFE/RL)—The European Parliament has overwhelmingly adopted a resolution that deplores different types of pressure being exercised by Russia on the European Union’s Eastern neighbors, including Armenia.

The text, supported by all major parties in the chamber, calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS) to consider recent developments “beyond a purely trade dimension” and asks Brussels’ foreign-policy corps to “send a strong message of support for all Eastern Partnership countries in their European aspirations and choices.”

The resolution follows a sharply worded address to the chamber on Wednesday by the EU commissioner responsible for the European Neighborhood Policy, Stefan Fuele.

Fuele said any threats from Russia linked to the possible signing of EU Association Agreements at a summit in Vilnius in November would be “unacceptable.”

Fuele said this applied to all forms of pressure, including possible misuse of energy pricing, artificial trade obstacles, threats to withdraw security guarantees or cease military cooperation, and “the instrumentalization of protracted conflicts.” He said the EU would stand by countries that choose to sign Association Agreements with Brussels instead of opting for the Moscow-led Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia.

Russia is suspected of pressuring countries such as Armenia, Moldova, and Ukraine in the run-up to the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November, apparently in the hope of making them join its own customs union, instead.

Several of the EU’s eastern partners are expected to formalize closer relationships with Brussels at the summit by either initialing or signing an Association Agreement and an accompanying Deep and Comprehensive Free-Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU.

On September 11 Russia imposed a ban on Moldovan wine. In August, Moscow stopped Ukrainian products from crossing the border for nearly a week.

“This is not how international relations should function on our continent in the 21st century. Such actions clearly breach the principles to which all European states have subscribed,” Fuele told European lawmakers.

“In the Helsinki Principles of the OSCE, we have committed to respect each country’s, let me quote, ‘right to freely define and conduct as it wishes its relations with other states in accordance with international law,’ end of quote. The European Union will support and stand by those who are subject to undue pressures.”

Fuele said a country cannot enjoy both a DCFTA and membership in a Russian-led customs union. “It is true that the customs-union membership is not compatible with the DCFTAs, which we have negotiated with Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia,” he said.

“This is not because of ideological differences; this is not about a clash of economic blocs; or a zero-sum game. This is due to legal impossibilities. For instance, you cannot at the same time lower your customs tariffs as per the DCFTA and increase them as a result of the customs-union membership.”

Armenia announced last week that it had chosen to join the Russia-led customs union amid speculation of intense pressure from Moscow. Yerevan did, however, indicate that it would like to initial the Association Agreement without the DCFTA, a setup similar to the position Azerbaijan is negotiating with the EU.

The commissioner said it would be possible for Eastern Partnership countries to increase cooperation with the customs union in an observer-status role. He said Brussels encouraged its partners to seek deeper ties with Russia in accordance with their Association Agreement obligations.

“We have to do a better job in communicating with Russian friends. Make this point again and again. The eastern partnership is not at your expense, it is not against you, it is not against your interests,” Fuele explained.

Fuele also observed that EU norms often are adopted internationally and are fully compatible or identical with World Trade Organization rules, which should help everyone, including Russia, to modernize and open up to globalization.

Authors

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.

11 Comments

  1. Gary@S said:

    When Turkey invades Armenia, is the EU going to do anything? No. All about oil pipelines.

    • Ani said:

      Totally agree with you, Gary. The EU will do nothing. To top it off, they’re slowly going bankrupt.
      Our best bet is always with Russia. Also the EU is slave to Israel. Just look at what’s happening with poor Syria. Israel supplies many weapons to Azerbokjian. Israel will use Azeri bases to eventually attack Iran as the barbaric Azeris will launch their own attack on Armenia.

  2. An Armenian said:

    Fuele says: “In the Helsinki Principles of the OSCE, we have committed to respect each country’s, let me quote, ‘right to freely define and conduct as it wishes its relations with other states in accordance with international law,’ end of quote. The European Union will support and stand by those who are subject to undue pressures.” Don’t the Europeans have this backwards? Their beloved “icon” Turkey has blockaded Armenia for over 20 years against international laws. However the EU is still worshiping their icon as if Turkey is the greatest thing that ever happened to humanity.

  3. Sarkis said:

    More diplomatically-phrased lies from the west. Europe, not Russia, is the one telling Armenia “either you sign a free trade agreement with us exclusively, or we’ll refuse to deal with you”. The Russians never placed any such preconditions on Armenia, at least not publicly. Europe is just bitter that a rising economy like Russia made a more attractive offer to Armenia, while the EU failed to explain to Armenia how Armenia would be treated any better than Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland or any of the other formerly successful states that the EU turned into failed states. ANd keep in mind the only reason Armenia cannot carry out a “complimentary policy” towards Russian and the EU is because the EU politicizes it’s economic partnerships with weaker developing nations like Armenia.

    Armenia made the right decision choosing the Custom’s Union. Armenia has no business joining a sinking ship like the EU. In the next 50 years Armenia has a wonderful opportunity to develop under Russian protection, patronage and partnership, while in the next 50 years Europe will have a Muslim majority, if not an outright turkish majority.

  4. Alex Postallian said:

    When the Armenians needed help…The league of nations was a farce,E.U is a big joke.maybe Russia wasn’t the best bet,They are the ones who inadvertently protect Armenia,by their presence.The big Coward jerky turkey,will never make a move,because they fear the BIg Bear.

  5. kodrutz1985 said:

    Hello,

    You are all fools if you think Russia will stand by your side if any attack will happen. They are only pursuing their own interests. When Russia will no longer need you, they will leave you on the side of the road. Respect for Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine for not giving up their people’s hopes. Go in Russia and then the EU. Search for statistics and numbers between the two blocks. You’re all brainwashed if you do not see the differences. I guess most of you have never visited Europe. That is why you praise everything that is russian.

    Have a good day 😉

    • mgl said:

      Learn from history, Kodrutz. You’re totally brainwashed by European bla-bla-bla.
      BTW, it was USSR who saved your Europe from Nazis.

      • kodrutz1985 said:

        mgl,

        Russia is light years behind EU. I live in the EU, and from time to time, i read the news from Asbarez. I`m just expressing my personal opinion. For me it is strange this adoration for everything that Russia does. Armenia does not share a common border with Russia either, so this argument (that Armenia does not have border with EU), which i`ve read it in a couple of comments, is not valid.
        As for the history part, Karabakh was claimed by both Azerbaidjan and Armenia in 1918. After the Soviet Union established control over the area, it created the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast within the Azerbaijan SSR in 1923.
        I don`t have anything against Russia, but only when they treat the others right, and not playing dirty. The thing is that they only deal through blackmail, threats and so on. Moldova is an example. They have also a conflict and some “peacekeepers” from Russian`s 14th Army stationed in Transnistria. Russia threatened Moldova several times, and still they choose the people`s will. I`ve been there and saw the russian way of living, spoke to people and they told me that for them, neighbor Romania is the West. Russia has lots of internal issues that need to deal with, more important than this conflict. They will get swallowed by China in the far east in the future, The CU is the USSR 2.0, a response to EU, but with smaller and poorer countries. CU is Putin`s dream to rule.
        I guess the majority of you thinks from the security point of view. But what about the other points?

        Thank you

  6. Sirvart Garabedian said:

    I totally agree with my collegues that Armenia made the best decision to join Russia`s custom, otherwise if it turned to EU they don`t care about little poor country Armenia who is suferred and still sufer by the blocade of goods to go through the big foe criminal Turkey who tries to invade Arab countries go back to its Ottoman rule. Where was Europe Union to have put pressure on Turkey to open the blocade then why now want to help Armenia after more than 20 years`silent pampering Turkey with its 90 million moslems into their circle and yet keeping blind eye on Turkey who still continuing the blockade which left Armenian people unwillingly live their belopved hom o eland to other countries mainly Russia. We never rely on Europe since two big powers meddling in their business who demolished all the best Arab oil countries & Syria too.

*

Top