The European Union has announced the “substantive completion” of its negotiations with Armenia on an Association Agreement which it says will bring the country much closer to Europe.
The EU’s foreign and security policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fuele, said they are “delighted” with the development, in a joint statement issued late on Thursday.
“This is a very positive development, and we look forward to the initialing of this Association Agreement at the next Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Vilnius on 29 ,November 2013, and to the subsequent signing of the Agreement as soon as the technical procedures are completed The completion of these negotiations, launched in 2010, represents a significant achievement for both the European Union and Armenia,” Ashton and Fuele said.
“The Agreement will have a direct positive impact on daily life and will bring Armenia and all its citizens closer to the European Union. We express our appreciation to the negotiators on both sides for reaching this excellent outcome," they added.
The statement came the day after Armenian and EU negotiators essentially concluded yearlong negotiations on the creation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), a key component of the Association Agreement. The two sides worked out the rest of the comprehensive accord in March.
The Armenian government has still not officially commented on the end of the DCFTA talks. Government officials and President Serzh Sarkisian in particular have reaffirmed in recent weeks their determination to finalize the landmark deal with the EU in time for the Vilnius summit.
Sarkisian insisted on July 12 that the deal will not harm Armenia’s ties with Russia or any other non-EU state. He made the assurances amid indications that Moscow is unhappy with Yerevan’s European integration drive.
The Association Agreement will practically prevent Armenia’s potential accession to a planned Eurasian Union of ex-Soviet states promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.