Though the Association Agreement with the European Union was not signed, EU and Yerevan continued the talks to define the new legal framework. At the Riga Summit in May, 2015 the sides fixed the areas of mutual interests and expectations, with the European Commission receiving the mandate to open the negotiations with Armenia on October 12.
The Media Center held a discussion on the European Commission's mandate for negotiations with Armenia. First Deputy Minister of Economy Garegin Melkonyan, lawmaker Tevan Poghosyan and Head of the Centre for European Studies Artur Ghazinyan shared thoughts on the EU-Armenia relations.
Garegin Melkonyan said the new agreement will include both an economic component and a political one but it will be different from the previously agreed Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area component. "The new document will not include the provisions running counter to Armenia's commitments to the Eurasian Economic Union. We, though, seek to maintain the cooperation scope as broad as possible and involve more areas in it," said Melkonyan.
The economic component of the new document, he said, may cover such areas as transparency, competition, investments, services, trade, tourism, ecology and power engineering. The new document is unlikely to include the items regarding customs regulations to avoid possible contradiction to Armenia's EEU membership. The Eurasian Economic Union member states conduct a common tax policy.
Melkonyan commented on the sector changes Armenia may experience following the signing of the new agreement with the European Union. "With respect to the non-tariff regulations - technical regulations, certification, laboratory testing, and examinations - we want these procedures to be conducted in Armenia and we will be taking relevant measures to this end," Melkonyan said. The goal, he added, is to facilitate the exporters' activities and to make the EU market more accessible to them.
Artur Ghazinyan describes the negotiating mandate as a new window of opportunities in the EU-Armenia relationship.
"It is very important since it could open new opportunities for Armenia. Nevertheless, we see the world changing and we do not know what the geopolitical situation will be like when the negotiations are over," he said, recalling the U-turn of Yerevan when the Armenian authorities decided to shifted from the Association Agreement to join the EEU after 3.5 years of talks with the European Union.
Tevan Poghosyan believes both sides have learnt a lesson and will ensure the agreement is signed. "To achieve this requires hard work and intensive talks. No ambitious statements or shows are needed. The document, if ready, could be signed without waiting for any grand event, for example, the next Eastern Partnership Summit," he said.
Arshaluys Mghdesyan, Editor-Coordinator