Sergey Mikheyev: "Armenia's association agreement with EU poses same threat as agreement with Ukraine"
This Friday the fifth summit of the Eastern Partnership program will be held in Brussels. It's expected that signing of an association agreement between Armenia and the European Union will be its main event. It's signing was postponed in 2013 after Yerevan's decision to join the Customs Union. Armenia will become the first country that participates in Eurasian integration projects, which will sign agreement on economic and political integration with the EU. Prior to that Georgia, which doesn't have diplomatic relations with Russia, and Ukraine, after violent change of power, joined the Euroassociation. Head of the Institute of Caspian Cooperation Sergey Mikheyev discussed consequences of this event in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- How can Armenia's association with the European Union hurt Russia and Russian-Armenian cooperation?
- Threats are the same as in the case of Ukraine. Although Armenia signs a somewhat different document, overall the "Eastern Partnership" and the Euroassociation 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.
- What will Armenia lose or gain from association with the EU?
- All these associations just try to make this or that country join them, but in reality there are no serious gains. Such agreements are usually just political declarations. From political point of view, the West will have a certain influence over the situation, but from economic point of view, these associations are completely empty. These documents are unlikely to lead to a breakthrough in Armenian economy, like in any other country before it. Similar associations have been signed with Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia long ago, but quite frankly, they had almost no positive impact on the economies of these countries.
- Are there any sectors where Armenia won't be able to replace Russia with the European Union?
- In military and economic sectors. The EU has only promises. Basically, only Russia offers any kind of cooperation, and Europe doesn't offer anything. As a result, in the future Armenia will continue to try to "please two gods": maintain contacts with Russia, while trying to flirt with Europe. That's the tactic of current Armenian political elite, because, on the one hand, Armenia can't survive without economic and military cooperation with Russia, and, on the other hand, pressure from the European and American Armenian diasporas bring the republic closer to the West.