President Serzh Sarkisian will represent Armenia at the third Eastern Partnership summit due to be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, later this week, his press office confirmed on Tuesday.
“On November 28, President Serzh Sarkisian will leave for the Republic of Lithuania to participate in the summit of leaders of the Eastern Partnership states in Vilnius,” the Armenian leader’s press service said. “In Vilnius the president will also attend European People’s Party and Eastern Partnership leaders’ meeting. Bilateral meetings of the president are also planned within the framework of the visit,” it added.
Earlier, the European Commission, which is the European Union’s executive body, also confirmed Sarkisian’s being among the leaders due to attend the summit in the Lithuanian capital.
According to the European Commission, five of the six Eastern Partnership member states, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, will be represented by their heads of state or government and only Belarus will be represented by the country’s foreign minister. President Ilham Aliyev, of Azerbaijan, and Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych, will be among the leaders attending the summit.
The summit will be chaired by the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy who, together with the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, will represent the European Union. The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Catherine Ashton, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Štefan Füle and Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht will also attend the summit.
The European Commission’s statement further quoted President Van Rompuy as saying that the EU continues to work “on the ambitious Association Agreements including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas with partners meeting the benchmarks and steps towards facilitating and liberalizing travelling between the Union and the region.”
And President Barroso said: “The Eastern Partnership is delivering change and a new perspective to citizens in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine; And it is part of a much bigger transformation taking place on the European Union's borders. In the last few years the European Union became the biggest trading partner and source of investments, a political presence and a reliable partner to most of our Eastern neighbors. Ultimately Europe and the Eastern partners can only flourish as an integrated continent without dividing lines.”
Sarkisian’s participation in the summit slated for November 28-29 had 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. Armenian officials have not divulged any details concerning the document or the course of the talks.