Armenia free to develop balanced dialogue with EU and Russia –  European expert

11:44 • 13.12.17



The European Union has adopted a very smart balance between promoting and supporting democracy and human rights but at the same time applies instruments that deal very much with traditional international relations, according Jeorme Scheltents, Knowledge Development Advisor and Dialogue Expert at the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.


Speaking to Tert.am, Mr Scheltents commented upon the recently signed Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement which he said despite its non-binding nature (in the field of human rights) should be treated as a very important deal in terms of developing trade relations.


According to him, the EU is quite honest in ruling out trade agreements with those countries that openly oppose to any interference in their domestic affairs.


“It is the responsibility of those states themselves, i.e. – to what extent they have ratified treaties and to what extent they want to expand cooperation on the UN platform so to speak. But in terms of the EU, it’s quite clear. The EU can choose to do promotion of international relations in human rights and democracy, and speak out on it, but it cannot force and impose anything,” he added.


“The EU has also learned that if Brussels negotiates with Yerevan, the ruling party might come up with a reform not supported by the society.”


“What the EU noticed is that if it’s done only by the governments, then you might on paper have an agreement, on paper have the relations, but in reality - not see many changes at all,” he said, stressing also the need of civil society’s active role in the promotion of reforms.


Addressing Armenia’s current status, particularly the fact that the country is now in the Russian zone of influence, the expert emphasized the importance of developing a balanced dialogue with both sides.


“Conflicts generally increase when people don’t talk. Not talking deteriorates mutual understanding. So it’s very simple: you should always talk to everyone. Essentially, problems do not go way by not talking about them,” he added.


“You are a small country surrounded by geopolitical giants – Iran, Russia, Turkey and the EU. You have an enormous diaspora, and I think the US might also be involved."


“Armenia has a choice to talk to anyone who is not its absolute enemy. And even with absolute enemies, you should always find the way of developing a dialogue. You are free to talk to Russia. And I think the EU would say the same thing. The EU is not out to own you instead of you being owned by Russia. The EU wants to offer trade relations, and with that, it could also push you to talk about human rights and democracy. You have the right to ignore it, but I think that for a country like Armenia, it would be more positive to be closer to Europe. Maybe Russia now has a bigger trade market than Europe, but Europe has very different commodities, and can offer more diversification. You are free to talk to both,” Mr Scheltents added.

 

Hripsime Hovhannisyan





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