Armenia’s desire to integrate with the European Union does not contradict its close political, military and economic ties with Russia, President Serzh Sarkisian said during an official visit to Poland late on Tuesday.
Speaking after talks with his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski, Sarkisian pointed to his country’s membership of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization and the existence of a sizable Armenian community in Russia. “We have never taken a step directed against Russia, and we suffer from no complexes that could drive us into such steps,” he told reporters.
“We are also a nation carrying European values and our aim is to develop our society along the lines of those values,” he continued. “Armenia is one of the countries that have made greatest progress in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program. We build our policy not on the principle of ‘either-or’ but on that of ‘and-and.’ I see no contradiction here.”
Addressing a Polish-Armenian business forum in Warsaw later in the day, Sarkisian indicated that Yerevan remains committed to signing a comprehensive Association Agreement with the EU, something which will preclude its accession to new Russian-led unions of ex-Soviet states. He said a permanent free trade regime envisaged by that agreement will give a massive boost to Armenia’s commercial ties with EU member states, including Poland.
The association accord is the key element of the Eastern Partnership, which offers Armenia and five other ex-Soviet republics the prospect of much closer partnership with the EU in return for political and economic reforms.
Speaking at the joint news conference with Komorowski, Sarkisian said that the success of those reforms in Armenia requires greater economic assistance from the West. “Yes, we anticipate assistance and are not ashamed of that,” he said. “We mean both technical and material assistance, exchange of experience and the like.”
“We are reforming our business environment and it is impossible to implement all these reforms without substantial investments. These processes will slow down without aid,” he added.
The EU said in March that it is pressing ahead with preparations for an unprecedented conference of international donors that should approve large-scale economic assistance to Armenia. Its enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fuele, said the Armenian government deserves to be rewarded for its reform record. It is still not clear, however, when that conference will take place.