BY HENRY NIKOGOSYAN
On November 24, Armenia and the EU officially signed the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
For Armenia, signing CEPA marks a substantial step toward developing western democratic reforms. The agreement bolsters bilateral relations between the two governments, opening a path to expand economic activity. In return, Armenia has agreed upon fundamental goals that are in the financial, political, and moral interest of the Armenian people.
CEPA’s main points include cooperation on the following:
1. Developing a common defense policy, including various security-building measures and fighting terrorism.
2. Domestic reforms by increasing the effectiveness of democratic institutions, rule of law, respect for human rights, transparency, accountability, progress of legal reform, creation of statistical data for governance, and enhancing the fight against corruption.
3. Developing financial sectors by exchanging expertise and best practices, reforming financial institutions and primary industries (such as energy and agriculture), adopting laws that prevent distortions of fair competition, and facilitating reforms in favor of bilateral investments.
4. Improving research and innovation, employment protection, educational and training systems, environmental protection, and development of widespread availability of information and communication technology.
5. Compliance with international intellectual property regimes.
CEPA is a positives change in the Armenia’s vision for the future. Since 2015, Armenia has been an exclusive participant in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which has come with virtually no economic development and a stagnant GDP.
In short terms, the last three years have been lost.
Prior to joining EAEU, Armenia was in talks with the EU to establish stronger bilateral relations. However, the country’s elite chose to abandon the path to Europe in exchange for greater solidarity with Russia—a concession that was not returned during the April 2016 clashes.
Armenia’s has historically been reluctant to steer far from its northern neighbor. This shift to more constructive policies occurred only after Armenia experienced the extreme pressures of the April clashes, protests, and the hostage crisis. But CEPA is a purely voluntary cooperation, meaning that Armenia can walk away at any time, notwithstanding minimal repercussions under the agreement.
Armenia’s transformation into a true western democracy relies on agreements like CEPA. With participants like Deputy Foreign Minister Garen Nazarian, who is not only a distinguished diplomat of Armenia but also an advocate for human rights, these transformations can succeed.
Maintaining interests to deepen relations with the EU are essential in preventing Armenia from reverting to its prior economic strategy. Creating that interest, without further war, is imperative. And this burden falls on the citizens of Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora.