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Yerevan Still Mum On EU Summit Attendance


France - Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian addresses the 37th cession of the UNESCO's General Conference, Paris,11Nov,2013

France - Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian addresses the 37th cession of the UNESCO's General Conference, Paris,11Nov,2013

Official Yerevan on Friday declined to clarify whether President Serzh Sarkisian will attend next week’s European Union summit in Vilnius that will focus on the EU’s relations with Armenia and other former Soviet republics.

“We will make an announcement [on that] in a proper way and in due course,” Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian told reporters. He would not say when it will be made.

Sarkisian’s participation in the summit slated for November 28-29 has been in doubt since he unexpectedly stated on September 3 in Moscow that Armenia will seek to join the Russian-led Customs Union. The dramatic policy change precluded the initialing of Armenia’s Association Agreement with the EU which was due to be done at the summit.

Armenian and EU officials last month began negotiating over an alternative non-binding document that could be signed in the Lithuanian capital. Lithuania’s ambassador in Yerevan, Erikas Petrikas, said on November 7 that they talks are still going on. Armenian officials have not divulged any of their details.

Nalbandian similarly refused specify whether any Armenia-EU agreements will be signed in Vilnius. “Whatever happens, you will be notified in due course,” he said.

Nalbandian also would not be drawn on Ukraine’s last-minute decision this week not sign a similar association accord with the EU at the upcoming summit. “Every country itself decides how to develop its relations with neighboring countries and various regional structures,” he said. “As regards our relationship with the European Union, we have already said that we want to continue our cooperation with the EU in all possible directions.”

Both Armenia and Ukraine have been under strong Russian pressure to join the Customs Union at the expense of much closer ties with the EU. Unlike the authorities in Yerevan, the Ukrainian government has not yet made a final decision on joining the Russian-led trade bloc which is due to be transformed into a Eurasian Union in 2015.
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