Armenia wants continued cooperation with the European Union in all possible directions, basing on the mutual achievements and progress made in recent years, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said during his meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton in Brussels on Tuesday.
A statement released by the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the meeting quoted Nalbandian as emphasizing that in building its relations with the EU, including within the framework of the Eastern Partnership initiative, Armenia is seeking to have “close, deep and extended cooperation that will simultaneously take in account Armenia’s participation in other integration processes meeting its interests.”
“Armenia, supported by the European Union, has passed an important path of reforms. We are determined to continue the process of reforms aimed at promoting democracy, human rights and strengthening the rule of law, good governance, improving the judiciary and combating corruption. In this process we look forward to continued support from the European Union,” Nalbandian said.
For her part, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton said that the EU remains committed to deepening relations with Armenia in all areas that are compatible with Armenia’s membership in the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
After nearly four years of negotiations with the EU on an association deal that would also include an agreement on establishing a deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA) Armenia’s political leadership, unexpectedly for many partners and experts in Europe, announced last month that the country had made a decision to join the Moscow-led Custom Union and further move towards forming a new Eurasian Economic Union with other former Soviet allies.
Officials in Brussels have indicated that membership in the Customs Union is incompatible with DCFTA, but authorities in Yerevan still hope to get at least a watered-down version of the Association Agreement signed at the EU Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in late November.
Addressing the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg last week Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said that Armenia has suggested signing an Association Agreement with the EU envisaging mainly political reforms. “We are not only ready but also determined to carry out those reforms in our country. This process is now underway,” he said. “We will participate in the Vilnius summit, and our expectation is to make some changes in the negotiated document by that time.”