YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule told journalists in Yerevan Friday that the European Union will not sign any documents with Armenia at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, scheduled for late November.
“The agreement on a deep and comprehensive free trade area is part of the Association Agreement. It is a single document, and one can not be separated from the other,” Fule said after an informal meeting of foreign ministers of the Eastern Partnership program’s member countries in Yerevan.
Asked about the possibility of preparing a document providing a new format of cooperation between the EU and Armenia, Fule said that such a serious document can not be prepared prior to the Vilnius summit. He added, however, that the EU does not refuse further cooperation with Armenia.
Speaking at the meeting, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said, “Over the past years, in cooperation with our European colleagues, the Armenian government implemented large-scale reforms, particularly in the areas of strengthening of democratic institutions and the rule of law, good governance, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, improvement of election processes and the electoral code, and the development of civil society.” Nalbandian added, “We are thankful for that support and look forward to continuing our reforms in the future.”
The Minister underlined that Armenia has allied relations with Russia, and this was the reason behind the decision to join the Customs Union.
“We have said on many occasions that we are ready to launch close cooperation with the European Union, but not at the expense of our strategic partner,” Nalbandian stated.
“Armenia is determined to maintain and advance the achievements and progress registered in the course of its relations with the European Union over the past years,” Edward Nalbandian said.
Stefan Fule, who was also at the meeting in Yerevan, stated, “The EU remains committed to advancing the Eastern Partnership with all six partner countries. Our intentions and policies are clear, transparent, predictable and differentiable – reflecting the ambitions of our partners and their commitment to values and principles that form the basis of our relations. We have always acted in this way and will continue to do so – in the run up to the Vilnius summit and beyond.”
“We are not in the business of building walls. We are in the process that could eventually lead to a free trade zone between Lisbon and Vladivostok,” Commissioner Fule said.
“The development of the Eurasian Union project must respect our partners’ sovereign decisions. Any threats from Russia linked to the possible signing of agreements with the European Union are unacceptable. The European Union will support and stand by those who are subject to undue pressures,” he said.
“I’ve come to understand what Armenia’s expectations are from the Vilnius Summit,” Commissioner Fule said, adding that the AA/DCFTA are part of one treaty that cannot be separated.
“The greatest expectations are connected with the Association Agreement and the creation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. Such agreements will be signed with Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia,” Fule explained, noting that Armenia’s announcement about its plans to join the Customs Union will not allow it to initial the Association Agreement, which had been negotiated for three years.
As for the statement made by the EU Delegation to Armenia on the recent violent incidents against activists and human rights defenders, the Commissioner said: “The EU has expressed deep concerns and called on Armenian authorities to take decisive action to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Moldova’s Foreign Minister Natalia German stated that despite pressures, Moldova is ready to sign the Association Agreement. The Georgian and Ukrainian Foreign Ministers expressed the same.