YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia and the European Union have made further progress in ongoing negotiations on a new agreement to deepen their political and economic ties, a senior Armenian government official said on Tuesday.
Deputy Economy Minister Garegin Melkonian could not say, however, when the talks, which began in December, will be completed.
“We have already reached agreements on some chapters,” he told reporters. “Discussions are continuing on many other chapters.”
“We plan to hold two more rounds of negotiation before the end of the year,” said Melkonian. “At this point, we have no acute problematic issues that can be described as sticking points.”
The planned accord is supposed to serve as a substitute for an Association Agreement negotiated by Armenian and EU officials in the summer of 2013. President Serzh Sarkisian precluded its signing with his unexpected decision in September 2013 to seek Armenia’s accession a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states.
The new framework deal is expected to contain many political and even economic provisions of the cancelled Association Agreement. But it will have no free trade-related component due to Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
Sarkisian expressed hope last month that the deal will be signed “within a reasonable period of time.”
Melkonian, who is one of the main Armenian negotiators in the process, would not be drawn on when that might happen. He said only that the talks are going according to plan
“I want to note that not all texts relating to the [agreement’s] section on trade and investment have been made available yet to the Armenian side by the European Union,” said the official. The Armenian government will need some time to look into the anticipated EU proposals, he added.
Melkonian also said that Yerevan is careful to ensure that the agreement’s economic provisions do not run counter to Armenia’s EEU commitments. “We compare every norm and arrangement under discussion with our obligations to the Eurasian Economic Union,” he said.