YEREVAN (Arka)—Armenian and Belarusian officials Thursday refused to sign a final agreement at the European Union’s Eastern Partnership summit in Riga unless a segment defining Russia’s annexation of Crimea as “illegal” is removed.
The participating countries have since developed a compromise revision that reflects the difference in the positions of the sides, Reuters reported referring to diplomatic sources.
The fourth Eastern Partnership summit in Riga opened on Thursday. It is an EU project to develop cooperation with the post-Soviet countries. Three countries, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, singed the EU association agreement in 2014. The Russian permanent representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said earlier the elaboration process of the final declaration is “quite intense with some countries wanting to strengthen the anti-Russian emphasis and with the others opposing it.”
The revised text of the declaration will still contain the EU’s condemnation of the “annexation of the Crimea,” but will also describe partnering countries’ stances, Novosti-Armenia reports referring to RIA Novosti.
The draft declaration will be discussed Thursday by foreign ministers of the EU countries and six partnering countries.
Some 95.5% of voters in Crimea supported joining Russia in a referendum held on March 16, 2014. Russia’s Putin said the referendum was held in line with international law and the UN principles.
President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian, who is on a working visit to the Republic of Latvia, participated in a meeting of leaders of the European People’s Party and the Eastern Partnership and gave a speech.
“Armenia’s European agenda remains one of the priorities of our foreign policy, and we are committed to deepen and further enhance our cooperation with the European Union,” Sarkisian said in his speech.
“It’s very important to maintain the commonality that unites us as a Partnership. We are more than convinced that all the partner countries’ loyalty to the general values, the development of democracy, human rights, rule of law, peace and the securing of stability in the region must continue to lie at the core of that commonality.”
Sarkisian said that he believes that the accession of partners to any structure doesn’t restrict their cooperation with other structures. That’s why by acceding to the Eurasian Economic Union, Armenia continues to be committed to the deepening and expansion of relations with the European Union, he said.
“Talking about the securing of cooperation and security in Europe, I must touch upon the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Sarkisian said. “The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict continues to be a serious challenge for security in the region and in Europe. Azerbaijan continues with its provocations, threats and anti-Armenian propaganda, prolonging the regulation of the conflict. The anti-Armenian campaign is being carried out with crude violations of human rights in Azerbaijan, and the regime’s opponents have been viewed as Armenia’s agents for a long time now. The partners in Europe must react to the irresponsible steps of Azerbaijan posing a threat to our regional security. There is a need for an adequate evaluation of those steps. So, I urge you to not give in to Azerbaijan’s destructive initiatives at different international levels and not share the responsibility for the escalation of tensions in the region.”
Sarkisian also thanked the audience of European People’s Party officials for the adoption of a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide on May 3 and, on the same token, the European Parliament for adopting a similar resolution in April.