President Serzh Sarkisian discussed the uncertain future of Armenia’s relationship with the European Union with his French counterpart Francois Hollande during a working visit to Paris on Tuesday.
Sarkisian’s office said the two men agreed on the need to “maintain the pace and quality of cooperation” between Armenia and the EU. “President Hollande assured that France, as a friend of Armenia, a leading EU member state and a major international player, will continue helping to advance Armenia’s European agenda,” it said in a statement.
The French presidential Elysee Palace gave no details of that discussion, saying only that Hollande and Sarkisian spoke about “prospects for Armenia’s relations with the EU” during their “working breakfast.”
Those relations were dealt a serious blow after Sarkisian unexpectedly announced on September 3, following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, that Armenia will join a Russian-led customs union. The move ran counter to a far-reaching Armenia-EU Association Agreement which was due to be finalized at the EU’s November summit in Vilnius.
The Sarkisian administration offered to salvage the agreement by significantly watering it down. The EU’s executive body, the European Commission, and individual member states like Sweden and Poland rejected the idea.
The official statements on Sarkisian’s talks with Hollande shed no light on France’s position on the issue. Unlike Sweden and Eastern European countries, Paris has not been at the forefront of the EU’s Eastern Partnership program that envisages association accords with Armenia and five other ex-Soviet republics.