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EU Still Upbeat On Association Agreement With Armenia


Armenia - EU officials hold talks on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with their Armenian counterparts in Yerevan, 18Apr2013.

Armenia - EU officials hold talks on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with their Armenian counterparts in Yerevan, 18Apr2013.

Armenia remains on track to finalize a wide-ranging Association Agreement with the European Union by next November, a senior EU diplomat said on Monday.

“We have almost closed all the chapters of the Association Agreement. There are some technical issues that are still to be solved,” Ambassador Traian Hristea, head of the EU Delegation in Yerevan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

“We really hope that we will not have incidents from now until [the EU’s November summit in] Vilnius that will put us out of the track,” he said. “Thank God, so far everything is fine.”

Armenian and EU officials already announced in March that they have worked out key terms of the far-reaching deal after nearly three years of negotiations. Gunnar Wiegand, the chief EU negotiator, said it will be initialed in time for the Vilnius summit “if everything goes according to plan.” Armenia and the EU’s 27 member states will most probably sign it in 2014, Wiegand said.

The Armenian government subsequently raised questions about that time frame when it intensified negotiations with Moscow over what it called Armenia’s “integration” with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. EU officials have repeatedly warned that Armenian membership in the union would run counter to a key component of the association accord, the creation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU.

“Armenia should make sure that any arrangements with any other trade partners are fully compatible with these DCFTA provisions,” a spokesman for Stefan Fuele, the EU enlargement commissioner, warned earlier this month.

The Armenian press has been rife with speculation in recent weeks that Yerevan is under strong Russian pressure to join the union. Armenian government officials have dismissed those claims.

“I have not seen pressures from Moscow, and so far the Armenian authorities have never told me that they are subject of pressure when it comes to this,” Hristea said in that regard.
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