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EU Official Opens Door To Armenian Association Agreement


Belgium -- (L-R) EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics pose prior to EU Armenia association council at EU headquarters in Brussels, January 20, 2015

Belgium -- (L-R) EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics pose prior to EU Armenia association council at EU headquarters in Brussels, January 20, 2015

The EU commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement has opened up the possibility of the European Union and Armenia signing an association agreement without its free-trade component.

Speaking on Tuesday after a meeting in Brussels with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, Johannes Hahn said that the EU “should make best possible use of the already existing association agreement which we negotiated and safeguarded for future reference.” Hahn added that it needs “to be adjusted in order to reflect the new context but the substance of its political part I hope should be kept.”

The EU and Armenia started negotiations on the agreement, including a free trade pact, in 2010. Yerevan was ready to sign it before the government shelved its plans in the autumn of 2013 and opted to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union instead.

The EU rejected an Armenian proposal to sign a watered-down version of the agreement not including the free-trade part in the wake of President Serzh Sarkisian’s surprise foreign policy U-turn.

Armenia’s Deputy Economy Minister Garegin Melkonian said late last month that Yerevan and Brussels began exploring this summer the possibility of an alternative legal framework for closer Armenia-EU relations. Melkonian said they could sign “in the near future” a deal that would contain not only political but also economic provisions of their ill-fated draft Association Agreement.

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