After the recent talks with the EU it is decided to launch negotiations on the development of a new agreement. “An application has already been submitted to the European Parliament and to the European Commission for the relevant mandate to commence the talks with Armenia. The Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga outlines the areas of the further dialogue between Armenia and the EU. The matter concerns visa facilitation, aviation, etc.,” said Garegin Melkonyan, First Deputy Economy Minister of Armenia.
On May 29, the Media Center hosted a discussion on the Armenia-EU relationship following the EaP summit in Riga. The speakers were Garegin Melkonyan, First Deputy Economy Minister of Armenia; Mikayel Melkumyan, Prosperous Armenia Faction; and President of the Republican Union of Employers of Armenia Gagik Makaryan.
The document that will actually be the new legally binding agreement between Armenia and the EU will be based on the Association Agreement, which had been negotiated before the Vilnius summit. “The new document will include the provisions that have already been agreed. Certainly, it cannot involve all areas for the situation has changed and Armenia has assumed certain commitments to the EEU,” said Melkonyan. He specified that the new document is unlikely to include the items regarding customs regulations not to run counter to Armenia’s EEU membership.
According to Melkonyan, the economic component of the document may cover such areas as transparency, competition, investments, services and trade. “We have decided to leave these areas in the document,” said the deputy minister. He noted that Armenia will stand to gain because it may have close cooperation with the EU along with its EEU membership.
“We are working with the European Union under the GSP+ preferential scheme, which enables export of around 6,400 items from Armenia to the EU with almost zero customs duties,” he said.
Working with the EU under the GSP+ scheme, Gagik Makaryan believes, does not mean that the goods made in Armenia will be exported to the EU market. “Many of our entrepreneurs have little idea about this scheme. Our businessmen are afraid of competition and they wish to work mostly with the Russian market that is more familiar to them,” he said.
Makaryan pointed out the importance of the developments in the Armenia-EU relations, noting that here the process matters more than the result. “Within the Eastern Partnership framework we are already getting what we need. One should not necessarily sign a document or speak about it at every given opportunity because it may trigger Russia’s negative response and have bad consequences,” he said.
For his part, Mikayel Melkumyan, MP from the Prosperous Armenia Faction, believes signing an agreement with the EU does not pave the way for entry of Armenian goods into European markets or for growth in Armenian exports to Europe. The EU is now depreciating the euro to foster the sale of its own goods in foreign countries. In this light, it is not clear yet whether there will be economic cooperation or not regardless of the content of the document,” he said.
The speakers made a point of the discussions with the EU. They hope the discussions will be crowned with success. Garegin Melkonyan, in turn, said that Armenia's partners in the EEU are also informed of the country's relations with the EU. “This is a typical process for any customs or economic union. For instance, an EU member state has no right to independently sign a free trade agreement with a third party,” said Melkonyan.
Lilit Arakelyan, Editor-Coordinator
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