The joint declaration signed during the May 21-22 Riga Summit reaffirms the European Union will go on to dialogue with “eastern partners” in a more differentiated fashion. Experts and EU officials describe the process as natural since the Eastern Partnership states are at different integration stages with the EU. At a press conference in Riga, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, restated the EU’s determination to shift to a more differentiated policy.
Armenia can expect little from the Riga summit given that the country has joined the Eurasian Economic Union, believes Stepan Grigoryan, Head of the Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation. “The summit couldn’t offer much to Armenia but we’ve observed a progress in the visa facilitation process. As Armenia has already gone far with the technical stage of visa facilitation, we called on the EU to open the door for a new second stage. The proposal was accepted and included in the summit declaration,” Stepan Grigoryan said.
The Media Center hosted a panel discussion on the public response to the EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga. The speakers included: Larisa Minasyan, Executive Director of the Open Society Institute- Armenia; Stepan Grigoryan, Director of the Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation; and Artur Sakunts, Head of HCA Vanadzor.
Artur Sakunts spoke critically on the summit noting it gave nothing to Armenia since Yerevan proved “unready to take anything.” “Anyway, I consider it important that the forum at least included the issue of freeing political prisoners,” said the rights defender.
Sakunts believes the civil forum fixed that the Russian policy remains the main challenge to the Eastern Partnership. Thus, as soon as the EU does not define its actions regarding Russia from the Eastern partnership perspective, “we won’t see any achievement. Armenia’s membership in the EEU restricts the country’s cooperation with the EU.”
The civil society must be actively engaged in the European integration, Larisa Minasyan believes.
“There is hope for a new Armenia-EU agreement and the sides have taken serious steps. If the EU receives the mandate, talks will start. As for this new cycle, it’ll be an achievement to have the process open to public for the civil society to find the potential to develop a position regarding the issues negotiated and hold discussions,” Minasyan said.
The speakers emphasized the EU is open to developing relations with Armenia and the prospects for Brussels –Yerevan cooperation mainly depend on Armenia.
Arshaluys Mghdesyan, Editor-Coordinator
Please contact the author at [email protected]