The European Union has no plans to finalize an Association Agreement with Armenia at an upcoming EU summit in Lithuania, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on Monday.
Writing on his Twitter account, Bildt said he and his visiting Slovak counterpart Miroslav Lajcak agreed at a meeting in Stockholm that the deal with Yerevan is “now off the table.” “We work with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia,” he added.
The comment is a further sign that the EU will reject the Armenian government’s proposal to initial a significantly watered-down version of the Association Agreement that would exclude its most important component envisaging the creation of a “deep and comprehensive free trade area,” or DCFTA.
President Serzh Sarkisian offered this solution after unexpectedly pledging to make Armenia part of a Russian-led customs union on September 3. EU officials had repeatedly told him that the DCFTA is “not compatible” membership in the union.
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian flew to Brussels last week in an effort to convince EU officials to accept the idea. EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said after their talks, however, that he finds it “difficult to imagine” this happening at the EU’s November summit in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius.
Nalbandian proceeded to Lithuania, the current holder of the EU presidency, at the weekend to discuss the issue with his Lithuanian counterpart Linas Linkevicius. “We respect Armenia’s will, but we must emphasize that the decision to join the Customs Union diminishes Armenia’s ambitions of integration in and cooperation with the EU,” Linkevicius was quoted by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry as telling Nalbandian.