Armenia signs anti-Russian agreement with Europe
Armenian president Armen Sarkisyan signed a law on ratification of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement, the Information and Public Relations Department of the republic's Presidential Administration said.
On April 11, the Armenian National Assembly unanimously voted for ratification of the agreement. The agreement will come into force when all the 28 members of the European Union and Armenia ratify it.
The Partnership Priorities will be key in guiding EU financial assistance to Armenia until 2020. For that period, the EU has earmarked around $175 million for Armenia to invest, among other areas, in education and innovation. In addition, it is expected that the EU will provide Armenia with thew Visa Liberalization Action Plan.
The agreement was signed by Armenia and all EU member states on 24 November 2017 in Brussels by the Armenian foreign minister Edward Nalbandian and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.
Former head of the Central Bank of Armenia Bagrat Asatryan, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the agreement with the EU will not significantly affect lives of Armenian citizens. "This agreement is more about alternative ways of developing the country's relations with the whole world. In the situation when Armenia participates in the EEU together with Russia, which has faced so many sanctions, we can also have significant losses and problems. This is an opportunity to maintain more or less normal relations with Western countries and follow the same course that Armenia has been following recently," he said.
"Before the decision was made to join the EEU almost five years ago, Armenia has been moving along the path of integration with European structures in terms of legislation and economy. I hope that we will maintain a balanced relationship with Russia as a traditionally strong partner, and with the West in general. I am convinced that the current world political crisis will come to an end in 5-10 years and Russia will resume cooperation with European countries," Bagrat Asatryan added.
According to him, singing this agreement, Armenia also showed dissatisfaction with the level of relations that it had with other countries in the EEU. "We have certain problems in terms of economic cooperation with the EEU countries, including Russia, since we do not have common borders. Unfortunately, no decision was taken within the framework of the EEU that would facilitate the development of Armenian-Russian economic ties," the ex-head of the Central Bank of Armenia explained, adding that Yerevan expects, in connection with the entry into force of the agreement with the EU, that the work of the EEU countries to keep Armenia in the post-Soviet space will be intensified.
Earlier, head of the Institute of Caspian Cooperation Sergey Mikheyev, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, stressed that despite "formal" safety of this agreement for Russia, it will draw Armenia into the orbit of the EU influence. "Threats are the same as in the case of Ukraine. Although Armenia signs a somewhat different document, overall the "Eastern Partnership" and the association with the European Union mean one thing - they draw a country into the orbit of influence of the Western powers, in this case, the European Union. This continues the trend of competition between Russia and Europe on the territory of the countries that join this system. In this case, I think there can't be two opinions - that's exactly what happening. Yes, indeed, this document is slightly different, it's not as global as the agreement that was imposed on Ukraine, but, nevertheless, political meaning is the same: expansion of the European and Western influence to the east and the post-Soviet countries in general," he noted.
Associate Professor of the Department of International Security of the Faculty of World Politics of Moscow State University, Alexey Fenenko, in turn, stressed most probable impact of Armenia's greater focus on the West, explaining why Russia is better then the European Union for Armenia. "Russia is close to Armenia, and the European Union is far away from it. Armenia's goods transit mainly through the Russian territory, not through any other, currently, Russia is the key market for Armenian goods. In the area of security, Russia provides guarantees to Armenia, it was once again confirmed at the CSTO summit in Yerevan last year. If Armenia focuses on the West, it may lose it. Although so far the Armenian leadership used this association agreement only as a bargain in relations with Russia, if they reach a serious level in this issue, it can blow up the whole strategic situation in the region," the expert warned.