The European Union will continue providing economic assistance to Armenia after Yerevan’s decision to join the customs union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Justice Minister Hrayr Tovmasian said on Tuesday.
Tovmasian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the EU will allocate early next month 29 million euros ($40 million) for supporting further reforms of the Armenian law-enforcement and judicial systems.
He said the European Commission and the Armenian government will finalize a corresponding agreement later this week. It will then be signed within the next two weeks, he added.
The EU funding was initially expected in mid-September. But its provision appears to have been delayed by President Serzh Sarkisian’s unexpected September 3 decision to make Armenia part of the Russian-led union. The move precluded the widely anticipated conclusion of an Armenia-EU Association Agreement.
“The program has not been frozen,” insisted Tovmasian.
EU officials have made clear that the 28-nation bloc will reconsider some of its planned aid programs for Armenia because of Sarkisian’s foreign policy change. More importantly, the EU is understood to have cancelled plans to organize an international conference of Armenia’s donors. The authorities in Yerevan reportedly hoped to raise at least 1 billion euros in aid at that conference.