EU-Armenia visa liberalization linked to cooperation agreement - expert

13:11 • 18.11.17



The EU-Armenia visa liberalization depends to a great extent on the level and quality of our implementation of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA), according to an expert.  


In an interview with Tert.am, Edgar Vardanyan of the Armenian Center of National and International Studies (ACNIS) stressed especially the need of relaxing dependence upon Russia as an urgent effort towards facilitating the process.


“The EU is giving clear signs that they are ready for the deal,” he added.


The European Parliament recently called upon the EU supreme body and Foreign Affairs Council to initiate a visa liberalization dialogue with Armenia, citing the recently completed negotiations over CEPA as a successful  example of  compatibility (between EEU membership and participation in EU Neighborhood programs).


The move reflects the Union’s clear willingness to deepen the cooperation with Armenia, Vardanyan said, commenting on the official statement issued by EU parliamentarians.


“Over the recent period, we very often hear the Armenian authorities blame Europeans for the non-signing of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement [an integral part of the EU Association Agreement]. So the statement in question comes to literally prove that the European Union has always been and is now ready to deepen the relations with Armenia. Regardless of Armenia’s membership in the EEU, the EU has the willingness, readiness and desire to deepen the relations,” the expert added.


Instead, Vardanyan said he sees absolutely no interest or willingness by Armenia to develop serious and in-depth relations with the Union.

 

“Moscow is going to always restrict the European integration processes in Armenia, but that certainly will be implemented to an extent, for instance, in the frameworks of the current agreement. That’s the extent acceptable to the Kremlin, but any further deepening of relations would be a real trouble to them,” he added.


Vardanyan further stressed the urgent need of serious democratization processes in the country. “Visa liberalization depends largely also upon the extent to which Armenia will be ready to take serious steps on its path towards realizing the reforms. Should there be a serious progress, the EU has already demonstrated that they are willing to resolve the issue,” he added.  


Another important thing for the Union is to make sure that Armenia is initiating real democracy-building processes instead of imitating reforms, said the expert. According to him, the Armenian authorities do not presently have a real willingness to head towards democratization.


“Understandably, visa liberalization would take us several years – as was the case with Georgia and Ukraine. Rapid developments are not certainly ruled out, but that already has to do with Armenia’s ability to relax its dependence upon Russia,”  he said, predicting 50/50 chances of success.


Meantime Vardanyan expressed concerns over possible migration trends.


“Considering Georgia’s experience, Armenia is required to demonstrate in what way it is going to cope with the emigration issue. In case of Georgia, for example, many profited by the occasion, pretending to leave the country for tourism purposes. But they often leave for EU member states not to ever return,” he added.

 

 

Hakob Aslanyan





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