President Serzh Sarkisian has made clear that his government will sign later this year an agreement to deepen Armenia’s political and economic links with the European Union.
“Yes, we will sign it this fall,” he said at the weekend, referring to the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA). “Why am I saying this with so much conviction? Because the document has already been finalized.”
“We have no reason to not sign that document,” the Armenpress news agency quoted Sarkisian as telling participants of a pro-government youth camp in the resort town of Tsaghkadzor.
The CEPA is a less ambitious alternative to an Association Agreement negotiated by Armenian and EU officials in the summer of 2013. Sarkisian essentially scuttled that deal with his unexpected decision in September 2013 to make Armenia part of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
The CEPA reportedly contains virtually all political sections of the ill-fated Association Agreement. But unlike the latter deal, it has no free trade-related provisions due to Armenia’s membership in the EEU.
The alternative accord was initialed in Yerevan in March. Armenian officials said afterwards that it will likely be signed during an EU summit in Brussels scheduled for November.
Earlier this summer, some Armenian opposition figures and commentators speculated that Moscow may pressurize Yerevan into walking away from the CEPA. Prime Minister Karen Karapetian insisted last week, however, that the Armenian government is “very determined” to seal the deal.
Speaking Tsaghkadzor, Sarkisian dismissed as “ridiculous” a widely held belief that his 2013 decision was made at the last minute and under Russian pressure.“We were negotiating with both the Eurasian Economic Union and the EU because right from the beginning both of them were saying that one does not hamper the other. But when the EU said that it does hamper what should have we done?”