Armenia and the EU are planning to sign a number of documents at the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga, said political officer of the EU Delegation to Armenia Andrej Didenko back in April. Despite the Association agreement had been dropped, the two have continued negotiations on political and economic issues. Didenko underlined that the EU and Armenia would cooperate while taking into account that Armenia joined the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). “In this situation, European Commission should provide a mandate to EU Member States on the negotiations with Armenia. We hope this will result in signing a document at the Riga summit,” he said.
Serzh Sargsyan, the Armenian president, also confirmed in March that the document would be signed. He said that Yerevan aimed at stressing the importance of cooperation on institutional reforms and joining the EEU did not diminish republic’s potential.
Director of the Institute for International Affairs and Security Stepan Safaryan believes that cooperation with the countries outside the Eurasian Union, specifically with China and the EU, is very important for Armenia. Talking to Europe Insight, he also notices that the document to be signed in Riga would be weaker, compared to the agreement planned for November 2013. “I don’t see technical issues that can prevent it from being signed but it is hard to predict how the political situation may evolve,” he said.
We also need to pay attention to the position of Russia, he underlines. “Regarding the Association agreement, it was clear that the document contradicted the Russian interests. However, a weaker document can be more suitable,” he explains.
In April Alexander Iskandaryan, director of the Institute of Caucasus, told journalists that the decision on signing a document with the EU was made and the technical works were still ongoing. He said that the clauses of the document were agreed both with the EU and Russia.
Like other experts, Iskandaryan believed there were no technical details that could undermine the document. “It is possible that something in political chapter of the document may prevent it from being signed,” he however noticed. To his view, the Association agreement could still be signed but without its economic part (the clauses on free trade).
In the interview with Europe Insight, Karen Bekarya, from the civil society organization European Integration, believes the Riga summit will be a major step for the Armenian-EU relations. A legal basis for the Association agreement will be set at the summit, he notices.
Before the gathering in Riga, European politicians said the EU would not scrap contacts with Armenia regardless of its joining the EEU. Cooperation will be upheld in such spheres as civil society programmes, assistance to SMEs (the EU is ready to spend 19m euros), public administration and judicial reforms, human rights protection (15m euros for the latter).