“What happened with Ukraine as well as Armenia's Eurasian turn in 2013 indicate that Russia tried to destroy the EU Eastern Partnership. Now even though there are official statements that they are aware in Russia about Armenia-EU negotiation process and do not mind and the European Union has changed its position within the Eastern Partnership, I am not sure that this scheme will work. Under the influence of geopolitical factors it may be interrupted one day,” Stepan Safaryan, Chairman of the Center for International and Security Affairs, said.
Stepan Safaryan, political scientists Armen Minasyan, Narek Galstyan and Economist Vilen Khachatryan participated in the discussion entitled “EU-Armenia Negotiations: Realistic Procedure or Exaggerated Expectations?” at Media Center on October 28.
Another phase of Armenia-EU negotiations was launched recently. At this moment, only two more phases of negotiations have left, one of which will take place in Brussels, and the other in Yerevan. After that, the finalizing process and the final signing of the framework agreement are anticipated.
According to political scientist Armen Minasyan, not only geopolitical, but also domestic political processes may have an impact on the negotiation process. In this context, he pointed to the upcoming parliamentary elections. However, judging by the statements of the parties, in the opinion of Minasyan, the constructive approach prevails in the negotiations.
“The both sides are determined to complete the process, so it is assumed that the negotiations and the agreement will have a positive result," he said, adding that the negotiators are still in a quite uncertain situation, as the European Union is in the transformation process.
“Drafting of the framework agreement and end of the negotiations do not mean that the process is over. The agreement still has to go through the approval process in the parliaments of EU member states, and here especially given the current geopolitical trends - migration crisis and so on, it is difficult to clearly understand what decisions will be made," he said.
According to political scientist Narek Galstyan, Armenia-EU talks are now more about technical regulations relating to the economy. Here, too, he said, there are certain sensitive provisions and issues, particularly those related to Armenia's membership in the Eurasian Economic Union.
“Armenia has assumed commitments and economic cooperation with EU should be clarified,” he said.
Galstyan said that in political terms there is an agreement, as the political part of the Association Agreement remained the same, and it had been agreed.
“Frankly speaking, I do not expect that there will be a serious obstacle because after 2013 there was a change in the philosophy of the Eastern Partnership. The final version will be agreed and the political factors will have no impact, especially when there is an important factor. The commitments, assumed within the Eurasian Economic Union, are clear, and Armenia cannot contradict them with the EU's relations,” Galstyan said.
Economist Vilen Khachatryan touched upon the commercial and economic aspects of EU-Armenia relations. According to him, Armenia has the largest ever commercial relations with three European countries - Bulgaria, Germany, and the Netherlands.
“The European countries are exporting their own products to Armenia less than other countries' products. The institute of mediators works. In addition, we mainly export mining products to the EU and the biggest share of EU investments is in that field," he said, adding that Europe will consider Armenia and other countries of the Eastern Partnership as its export market.
The experts pointed out that to have a facilitated access to the EU market is an opportunity, and the extent of use of this opportunity depends on only the willingness of official Yerevan to change and to become a modern state.
Arshaluys Mghdesyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
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