New EU-Armenia agreement offers new chapter in bilateral relations – European analyst

13:22 • 24.10.17



The Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement which the EU is going to sign with Armenia will open up a new chapter in the bilateral relations, promising a higher level of integration, according to a European expert. 


In an interview with Tert.am, Amanda Paul, a foreign and security policy analyst at the European Policy Center, agreed that the deal reflects a mutual willingness and commitment to foster relations.


“While it does not offer the level of integration with the EU that the abandoned Association Agreement/DCFTA did, it is nevertheless a positive step and will help to deepen ties between the EU and Armenia and if properly implemented, has the potential to strengthen Armenian democracy. Both sides demonstrated a strong political will to efficiently negotiate the agreement which takes into account Armenia’s commitments in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union. That said, success will be measured in large by Yerevan’s commitment to implementing the agreement which will include carrying out reform in a number of key areas.”


The expert admitted that the signing may be delayed, affirming the earlier reports that technical reasons might slow down the process. But she expressed a strong belief that the deal will be eventually finalized.


“I do believe that the agreement will be signed.  While the original plan was to have it signed at the EaP Brussels Summit on 24 November, delays mean this is more likely to happen later in the year.  Sometimes there are delays due to the technical process of the agreement being translated into all EU languages, etc which does take some time.  In this case there seems to have been a delay within the EU institutions which in turn has delayed the legal review and translation process. The EU should make all efforts to have the new agreement signed as speedily as possible because it has raised concerns and conspiracy theories in Armenia and is being used by those in Armenia that are opposed to the new agreement in a negative way to undermine EU credibility.”


Asked to comment on the chapter concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) conflict,  the European analyst said she does not see provisions adding anything new to what has been repeatedly stated.


“There is nothing new about this formulation of text as it has been used before in many other EU documents, etc.  There is no chance that the EU is going to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh. The EU will continue to follow a balanced policy between Azerbaijan and Armenia, supporting the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and contributing via its EPNK project which supports peace building initiatives.”

 

Ms Paul added that apart from the current deal, the new cooperation agreement with Azerbaijan is also now on their agenda.

“I expect the agreement with Armenia will be signed at some point in the near future.  The new agreement with Azerbaijan is also due to be signed soon too.  As we have seen with earlier agreements such as the Association Agreements and visa liberalisation agreements signed between the EU and Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, delays do happen including with the translation of the documents in all EU languages. It can take a long time which can result in these sorts of conspiracy theories,” she said.

Ruling out any obstacles to the signing, the expert nonetheless admitted the existing concerns with Russia. “I do not see any political or other obstacle to prevent the agreement being signed.  The biggest concern was always Russia but the Kremlin does not seem to have an issue with this agreement which was not the case with the earlier Association Agreement/DCFTA which the Russians strongly opposed. The agreement should be singed in good time because dragging it out leads to the sort of conspiracy theories we are currently hearing about. The EU could also send a message to Armenian society explaining the process leading up to signature and where it is at the current time.

Hripsime Hovhannisyan





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