New EU-Armenia deal outlines frameworks of broad cooperation and dialogue – official

13:52 • 14.03.17



In an interview with Tert.am, Deputy Foreign Minister Karen Nazaryan, who was Armenia’s chief negotiator in the recent talks over the revised EU cooperation agreement, elaborated on the essence of the new legal deal, and the expected outcomes for Armenia.


Mr Nazaryan, with your permission, I would like to start the interview with a question which we now repeatedly hear in our public and political circles. So why did the negotiations over the framework legal agreement take such a long time given that part of it - the political component – had already been negotiated as part of the EU Association Agreement?


This process with the EU was launched back in December 2014. Its format covered an exchange of thoughts aimed at finalizing the frameworks of the new legal document regulating the EU-Armenia relations and outlining the issues which were to be incorporated into the document. The process lasted about four months, the period being followed by electoral process in the EU member states. New officials were later appointed in different EU agencies, and the European Council and [the European] Parliament were formed together with their adjunct bodies. As a result, the EU Council was granted a mandate to get the negotiations with Armenia under way. As early as at the beginning of December, the Armenian foreign minister and the EU high representatives announced the official launch of the negotiations.  

The entire negotiation process lasted one year and four months, and I think the parties did really manage to work conscientiously over the period. These negotiations required considerable professional skills and expertise compared to the previous period, so our objective was to finalize the compliance of the legal commitments under the EU framework document with the obligations stemming from our membership in the Eurasian Economic Union. I think it was really a success; at a joint press conference in Brussels last month, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and President of the European Council Donald Tusk declared the negotiations completed.


Has the political chapter in the Association Agreement been fully retained or are there any abridgements?


The negotiations over the new agreement were anchored on the recent developments between Armenia and the EU, the process of the relations, and their depth and priorities. Certainly, we relied also on our previous progress, and the agreements reached based upon the negotiation process or previous commitments. This new agreement reflects the sides’ positions and approaches, relying on international and regional developments. It is a comprehensive document highlighting the entire spectrum of the Armenia-EU relations over the past 25 years, and outlining prospects for their future development.


Understandably, this new document, entitled Comprehensive and Enlarged Cooperation Agreement, will be of a lower level compared to the Association Agreement. Being [Armenia’s] chief negotiator in the process, what do you think will be Armenia’s benefit from this agreement? What are the expected changes? And will there be additional benefits for Armenia.


I wouldn’t like to compare this agreement with the previously negotiated text for the simple reason that we sought to build new legal grounds reflecting the depth and essence of the Armenia-EU relations. And I can say for sure  that we did succeed in our efforts. The new document is comprehensive in content, which is to say it envisages expanded coopeation. Structurally too, it is like the previously agreed deal, which has a preamble, a section entitled General Principles, and a separate chapter devoted to political dialogue, reforms and foreign policies. Also, there is a chapter outlining our approaches to justice and freedoms, and the existing problems. What we prioritize much is the objectives set forth in the economic chapter. A special significance has been attached to sectoral cooperation, which covers different trends (transport, energy, information society, tourism, agriculture, social policies, healthcare, territorial development, education etc).


Apart from the enumerated chapters, the document contains also a section on trade and trade-related issues, which has come to replace the previously negotiated Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Zone [agreement]. Most of the changes were made in this section, which now covers the key component outlining the mutual steps to be undertaken in future.


Through the implementation of this new agreement, we are trying to apply the EU standards to our everyday life, approximating, where possible, our legislation with the European [laws]. That suggests expanded cooperation relying on shared values and guarantees for Armenia’s comprehensive participation in EU projects through deepened political and economic dialogue in several key areas.

We have repeatedly stated that our cooperation with the EU relies on a shared set of values. We have, on the highest level, declared our willingness to move forward with our cooperation in several key areas. This agreement does offer us an opportunitu to move forward having legal grounds, mutual obligations and commitments targeted at future steps. The document is also called to outline the key trends of our cooperation in the years to come. It is a unique guideline for future developments.

Logically, as a member state of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), we cannot economically develop a deep cooperation with the EU. Which boundaries of economic cooperation does this agreement fix, and do they run counter to Armenia’s commitments within the EEU.

 

That deals with ruling out a deep and comprehensive free trade, not a restricted economic dialogue. Being an EEU member [state], we cannot possibly combine the free trade zone clauses with the EU. But it’s just the other way about when it comes to economic and sectoral trends. Those are points on which the agreement does envisage a deeper and more comprehensive cooperation. They are compatible with our commitments within the EEU.

 

Tigranuhi Martirosyan





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