New EU-Armenia cooperation deal ‘not quite different’ from Association Agreement – Serzh Sargsyan tells Euronews

11:01 • 03.03.17



Pesident Serzh Sargsyan, who recently visited Brussels, Belgium, for negotiations over the new EU-Armenia framework cooperation agreement, has given an interview to euronews’ Brussels correspondent Andrei Beketov.

The Armenian leader addressed particularly the opportunities offered under the new deal and the future of EU-Armenia cooperation in the light of the country’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, and strategic alliance with Russia. He was also asked to comment on the upcoming parliamentary election and the expected changes in the country’s state administration system based on the 2015 constitutional reforms.


The full interview is below:



Mr Sargsyan, after your talks on a new framework agreement with the European Union, can it be said to be a step back or forward from the Association Agreement that Armenia called off in 2013?


Because of the good will of both sides, this agreement isn’t so different from the previous one. There’s almost no difference in the political part. As for the economic part, well, we had to make sure that there’s not contradiction with our commitments vis-a-vis the Eurasian Economic Union which we are members of.


But Russia objected the Association Agreement with Armenia, with Ukraine. Did you have to water down the agreement to suit Russia, your big ally?


From the very beginning of the negotiations, our standing was that we can have both: the Association Agreement with the EU, and we also wanted a close integration with the Eurasian Economic Union. The Russians never told us that we could never sign such an agreement. They told us, ‘if you want to do so you can, but you might pay for energy at the world market price’.


Do you see a future of the Eurasian Economic Union as a match to the European Union?


I think it’s too early to talk about achieving equivalence; it would be better to talk about cooperation between the two blocs, as we, with our earnings, are sure that this is possible.


What can you offer to European Union? [We know] football players, [such as Henrikh] Mkhitaryan and other experts? But what else?


We have famous people like Henrikh Mkhitaryan and [chess grandmaster] Levon Aronian. We have Olympic champions. But we can also be useful for the EU by exporting our agricultural products. IT is also developing very fast in Armenia, and above all, we can be a friendly neighbor for the Europeans, a predictable neighbor at that.


Armenia also relies on Russia for security. Are you looking for alternatives, for instance NATO?


I have just visited the NATO secretary general. I invited him to Armenia to celebrate our cooperation over the past 25 years. We don’t see any contradiction between this partnership and our alliance with Russia.


And you are taking the current presidential Republic [of] Armenia into what? 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. It provides better opportunities for good governance; it provides better opportunities for citizens and representatives of civil society to participate in the running of our country. It could also create conditions in which our citizens could protest less.


There is no name Serzh Sargsyan on the list of the ruling Republican Party for the April parliamentary election. Does it mean you are quitting politics?


That means we take into account the concerns voiced by our opposition. The administrative resources can be used throughout the electoral process. And that also means were are creating opportunities for young people to express themselves in politics.

 





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