The Armenian parliament will likely ratify in March an extensive agreement on deepening Armenia’s political and economic ties with the European Union, a senior official said on Wednesday.
The Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed by Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, in Brussels on November 24. The Armenian government approved it in late December, a mere formality required for the CEPA’s examination by the country’s Constitutional Court. The court will almost certainly certify the agreement’s conformity with the Armenian constitution before it is debated by the National Assembly.
“I think that Armenia’s parliament will ratify this agreement by the end of March,” Armen Ashotian, the chairman of the parliament committee on foreign relations, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“The agreement also contains transitional provisions which allow the implementation of a number of major CEPA clauses, especially the ones on the EU’s financial assistance, before the agreement’s ratification by the European Parliament,” he said. “But in order for that to happen, the National Assembly has to ratify it first. I think that this time frame is very realistic.”
The CEPA also has to be ratified by the parliaments of all EU member states.
In Ashotian’s words, Yerevan hopes that the European legislatures will complete the ratification process by July 2019. Armenian lawmakers will be pressing for that in their contacts with their European colleagues, he added.
Under the CEPA, the Armenian government is to carry out political reforms aimed at democratizing the country’s political system and boosting human rights protection. It must also gradually “approximate” Armenian economic laws and regulations to those of the EU.
President Serzh Sarkisian set up on December 25 an ad hoc government commission tasked with ensuring Armenia’s compliance with the 350-page deal. The commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vache Gabrielian comprises the ministers of foreign affairs, finance, economic development and justice as well as nine other senior officials, among them an aide to Sarkisian and a deputy chief of the Armenian police.