In some ways, the publication of the text of the agreement was a surprise. About a month before the publication of Armenia-EU agreement, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, stated that the text of the agreement will be kept secret until it is finally signed.
A discussion entitled “Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement: Perspectives and Opportunities” held at Media Center on October 17 reflected opinions about the content of the agreement, the timing of the publication of the text, and the possible obstacles that can occur before the final signing of the document.
Boris Navasardyan, Chairman of Yerevan Press Club, says that the agreement could be published in the case of the mutual consent of EU and Armenia, which means that the parties are determined to sign it in the near future.
“This also means that obvious external interference from the outside, like in 2013, is not expected and the main reason is that it is apparently agreed with Russia.” The latter also does not expect a negative response from the Eurasian Union, as the commitments that Armenia has on the EAEU remain priority, and do not contradict the agreements reached between EU-Armenia.
At the same time, the speaker does not rule out that the Armenia-EU agreement may not be signed in November but rather by the European Union, as the EU has concerns about how the issue of power will be settled after April 2018.
“There are serious changes in the political system in Armenia, and many member states want to have a clear picture of who they will deal with after signing. Although experts mention more optimistic time frames but I do not exclude that the signing can be postponed until April-May.”
Hovhannes Igityan, International Expert, Former Chairman of RA NA Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, the agreement was published not for public demand and public debate, but for dissolving the concerns of Russia.
Touching upon the meaning of the agreement, the expert compared the EU-Armenia relations with a large puzzle where the agreement is the main part, and its publication can now display what the puzzle looks like.
Referring to the most manipulated provision of the agreement, closing the Metsamor nuclear power plant, Igityan mentiones that they are just groundless speculations because this issue has always been on the agenda of Armenia-EU relations.
“After the earthquake in 1988, it was closed not only for political pressure but even then the USSR authorities could not guarantee that it would work. In any case, we must understand that the atomic station has a working term. And our government has not given the answer to the question “What will happen then?” so far. At least our colleague says that if one day they should close it, they are ready to provide money to freeze it. Secondly, if Armenia wants to have a modern nuclear power plant, there are all the opportunities available.”
Stepan Grigoryan, Director of the Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation, considers the agreement to be an opportunity for Armenia that can serve the interests of the Armenian people. The latter notes that the agreement envisages reforms in almost all spheres of public life: anti-corruption, change of justice system, human rights development, culture, education, agriculture and a number of other spheres.
“It is clearly written that the right of small and medium business should be protected. These points are clear and purposeful. For example, all the necessary services are clearly mentioned in detail for tourism: postal, electronic, transportation. That is, they are concrete provisions referring to life. The principles are also written on how to work with these provisions. When it comes to fighting corruption, it is written in a few words how to do it,” Stepan Grigoryan says.
The expert considers the issue of visa facilitation with the EU and promotion of human mobility between Armenia and EU to be very important.
“It is very important that visa liberalization is included in the agreement, in the past, this process was parallel. It is also important that the chance to pass to the second round - a visa-dialogue, is now available for us. And this requires serious reforms in financial and justice systems, as well as in fighting against corruption.”
Derenik Malkhasyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
To contact the author please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.