Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian met with top German officials in Berlin late on Thursday to discuss the future of Armenia’s relationship with the European Union following its unexpected decision to join a Russian-led customs union.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said Nalbandian specifically discussed with his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle and a senior aide to Chancellor Angela Merkel the EU’s upcoming summit in Vilnius. Statements released by the ministry and Germany’s Federal Foreign Office gave no details of those talks.
The Vilnius summit scheduled for November 28-29 will focus on ties with six former Soviet republics included in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program. The EU is due to sign a far-reaching Association Agreement with one of them, Ukraine, and initial similar deals with Georgia and Moldova.
Armenia was also on course to finalize an Association Agreement with the EU until President Serzh Sarkisian’s surprise decision to make his country part of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The EU’s executive body, the European Union, has rejected an Armenian proposal to initial instead a significantly watered-down version of the accord in the Lithuanian capital.
The authorities in Yerevan now hope that leaders of the 28-nation bloc will at least acknowledge Armenia’s continuing European aspirations with a joint statement or declaration. EU diplomats in Brussels told RFE/RL earlier this week that a memorandum of understanding on future cooperation might be signed in Vilnius.
Sarkisian and Nalbandian also discussed preparations for the summit with Philippe Lefort, the EU’s special envoy to the South Caucasus, in Yerevan on Wednesday. Official Armenian sources reported no concrete agreements reached at those talks.
Sarkisian reaffirmed his government’s stated commitment to “the European value system” as he met with several visiting members of the European Parliament on Thursday. He reportedly assured them that “European rapprochement” remains on the Armenian foreign policy agenda.
Armenian leaders have previously spoken of their country’s “European integration.” Their domestic critics say that Sarkisian’s foreign policy U-turn will now preclude such integration.