Integration with the European Union remains one of Armenia’s top foreign policy priorities even after its leadership’s decision to join a Russian-led alliance of former Soviet republics, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian insisted on Tuesday.
“That is one of the most important directions of our foreign policy,” he told reporters. “We have a clear position. That is, we must be able to diversify our foreign relations given the fact Armenia is in a blockade. We are obliged to deepen and expand our relations in both the Eurasian and European directions.”
Sarkisian denied any contradiction between these two stated objectives. He said President Serzh Sarkisian reaffirmed Yerevan’s enduring commitment to closer ties with the EU when he announced on September 3 his decision to make Armenia part of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
The surprise announcement precluded the planned signing of a wide-ranging Association Agreement between Armenia and the EU. EU officials say membership in the Russian-led bloc contradicts the key elements of the Association Agreement envisaging the creation of a free trade zone.
Immediately after its September 3 U-turn, Armenian government offered to sign a much shorter version the agreement that would exclude the trade-related provisions. The EU has yet to accept this proposal.