BRUSSELS, Belgium (Euronews)—Armenian President Serge Sarkisian spoke to Euronews’ Brussels correspondent Andrei Beketov for an interview after the European Union (EU) and Armenia concluded negotiations on a Partnership Agreement. The deal is likely to be signed in May.
Is the Armenia-EU deal a step forward or backward from the Association Agreement, which Armenia called off in 2013?
“Because of the will of both sides, this agreement isn’t so different from the previous one. There is not much difference on the political part. As for the economic part, we have to make sure there are no contradictions with our commitments vis-à-vis the Eurasian Economic Union, which we are a member of.
But Russia objected the association agreements with Armenia, Ukraine. Did you have to water down the agreement to sooth Russia, your ally?
On the very beginning of the negotiations, our understanding was that we can have both –the Association Agreement with the EU and close integration with the Eurasian Economic Union. Russians never told us we could never sign such an agreement, they told us “you can, but you’ll have to pay for energy at world market price.”
Do you see the future of the Eurasian Economic Union as a match to the Eurasian Union?
I think it’s too early to speak about achieving equivalents. It would be better to talk about cooperation between the two, and we show with our example that it’s possible.
What can you offer the European Union aside from football player Henrikh Mkhitaryan?
We have many famous people like Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Levon Aronian, and Olympic champions. But we can also be useful for the EU by exporting our agricultural products. Information Technology (IT) is also developing very fast in Armenia. Most importantly, we can be a friendly neighbor for the European Union, a trustworthy and predictable neighbor.
Armenia also relies on Russia for security. Are you looking for alternatives, e.g. NATO?
I’ve just met with NATO Secretary General. I invited him to Armenia for us to celebrate our work of the past 25 years. We don’t see any contradiction between this partnership and our alliance with Russia within the framework of the CSTO.
You are taking the current presidential Republic of Armenia into… what will it become?
It’s going to be a very desirable country for every single Armenian. I strongly believe that the parliamentary form of government is more efficient to offer better opportunities for better governance. It provides better opportunities for citizens, representatives of civil society that participate in the running of our country.
Your name is not on the list of the Republican Party of Armenia for the April parliamentary elections. Does it mean you are quitting politics?
That means we are taking into consideration the concerns voiced by the opposition. That also means we are creating opportunities for young people to express themselves in politics.