A landmark agreement aimed at deepening Armenia’s political and economic ties with the European Union could also benefit Russia, a senior EU diplomat said on Wednesday.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), Piotr Switalski, head of the EU Delegation in Yerevan, insisted that the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed on November 24 is “not directed against any third party.”
“The agreement doesn’t contain any provisions which would undermine or influence negatively the interests of other countries that cooperate with Armenia,” Switalski said when asked about Russian reactions to the CEPA. “I can say even more openly: we do not want to monopolize the benefits stemming from the implementation of this agreement.”
“We believe that if this agreement is implemented, if Armenia has stronger democracy, better rule of law, good and strong courts, a predictable and fair business environment, equitable conditions for conducting business in fields like energy, transport and so on, other partners of Armenia can only benefit from it,” he said.
“So I believe that indeed the official comments from other countries, including Russia, that this agreement is good for Armenia … are logical conclusions stemming from the agreement,” added the envoy.
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said last week that Moscow “respects” Yerevan’s desire to forge closer ties with the EU. Russia’s ambassador in Yerevan, Ivan Volynkin, likewise said CEPA provisions do not run counter to Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
The official Russian reaction has contrasted with criticism voiced by some Russian commentators loyal to the Kremlin. In remarks aired by state-run Russian TV channels in recent days, they have claimed that the deal with the EU undermined Armenia’s military and political alliance with Russia.
Visiting Yerevan earlier this week, a senior representative of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party reportedly assured Armenian leaders that such comments do not reflect Moscow’s position on the issue.