24 November, 2017 21:41

In a first of its kind step, Armenia signs agreement with EU

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini signed the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the EU and Armenia at the 5th Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels on November 24.  

The signing ceremony was attended by President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk.

Mogherini announced that the agreement will expand cooperation between EU and Armenia, with increased benefits for people in both places, including growth in investments and development of democracy.

"This agreement is the first of this kind that is concluded with a party that is also a member of the Eurasian Economic Union," EU foreign-policy chief Mogherini said. "It will now be very important to implement it."

Nalbandian stated that the agreement opens a new chapter in EU-Armenia relations.

“The Agreement establishes a solid legal basis for strengthening the political dialogue, broadening the scope of economic and sectoral cooperation, creating a framework for new opportunities in trade and investments and increased mobility for the benefit of our citizens,” he stated. "Armenia is determined to further develop and strengthen comprehensive cooperation with the EU in all areas of mutual interest based on this agreement.

Armenia unexpectedly backed out of signing the Association Agreement with the EU in 2013, instead, joining the Eurasian Economic Union. Four years later, Armenia is on a new path of partnership with the EU.

 Nonetheless, unlike the 2013 Association Agreement that Armenia negotiated in but did not sign, the current agreement doesn’t make Armenia part of a “deep and comprehensive free trade area” with the EU. The focus of this agreement is the strengthening of civil society, governance, and investments in Armenia.

 While Russia has viewed EU’s Eastern Partnership program as a threat to its geopolitical interests in the CIS, both Yerevan and Brussels have stated that the agreement does not replace Yerevan’s membership in the Russian led Eurasian Economic Union, but complements it.

"This is not a geopolitical beauty contest between Russia and the EU, but a real partnership between sovereign countries without political, economic, and military threats and coercion between the EU and our partners," said European Council President Donald Tusk at a news conference in Brussels.

This agreement also moves Armenia closer toward a visa-free deal with the EU. A week before the summit the European Parliament passed a resolution recommending that the EU "open visa dialogues with Armenia."