Armenia’s government reaffirmed on Wednesday its stated commitment to strengthening ties with the Euroepan Union even after its upcoming accession to a Russian-led alliance of former Soviet republics.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said Deputy Foreign Minister Karen Nazarian made this clear in Brussels on Tuesday at a meeting of senior diplomats from other ex-Soviet states that are involved in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.
“In his speech, the deputy minister stressed that within the framework of the Eastern Partnership Armenia is ready to continue developing cooperation with the EU in all possible directions,” the ministry said in statement.
President Serzh Sarkisian was reported to give similar assurances to the Yerevan-based ambassadors of EU member states at a dinner meeting held in the presidential palace in the Armenian capital. He thanked the EU for its continuing economic assistance to the Armenian government mainly aimed at facilitating various reforms.
The EU’s executive body, the European Commission, announced earlier this month that it will allocate up to 170 million euros ($212 million) over the next three years to support the Armenian private sector and assist in judicial reforms promised by the authorities in Yerevan. Its European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn portrayed the promised aid as further proof of the EU’s commitment to “very close cooperation” with Armenia.
According to Sarkisian’s office, the president and the EU envoys also discussed implications of Armenia’s upcoming accession to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Sarkisian was quoted as stressing the importance of “combining various integration systems.”
Sarkisian’s unexpected decision last year to seek EEU membership led the EU to abandon a planned Association Agreement envisaging Armenia’s inclusion into a “deep and comprehensive free trade area.”
Economy Minister Karen Chshmaritian said on November 11 that Yerevan now hopes to negotiate an alternative trade deal Brussels.