Swiss Ambassador to Armenia Lukas Gasser: Switzerland will try to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without questioning the established formats such as the OSCE Minsk process
ArmInfo’s Interview with Alexey Kolomiets, President of the Center for European and Transatlantic Studies in Kyiv
by David Stepanyan
Armenia is still going to initial the Association Agreement and DCFTA at the Vilnius Summit in November. This circumstance has caused serious discrepancies between Yerevan and Moscow though at the recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has announced the country’s intention to join the Customs Union. What should we expect from this meeting in the future?
I am confident that in this matter everything will depend on the political will of the Armenian president and the stance of the Armenian society or its key groups. I think only Putin has understood the "significance" of the agreements with the EU for Kyiv, when he has recently said that "Ukraine does not sing an agreement to join any association". It looks incredible, but behind the wild chatter on the matter in Ukraine, only Putin voiced the most correct words about the core of what Europe offers. There is no doubt that during the visit of President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan to Moscow, Vladimir Putin imposed strong pressure upon Sargsyan. However, Putin himself is in a very hard geo-political situation. He needed success in the talks with Armenia. But what can he offer Armenia? This is a cardinal question. All the same, everything will be resolved in the territory of Armenia, in Yerevan.
What are the prospects of initialing/signing of the Association Agreement by Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia during the summit in Vilnius? Do you think Russia will hinder the signing of the Agreement between Ukraine and the EU in every possible way?
There is a little prospect for Ukraine to sign the Association Agreement with the EU during the summit in Vilnius. Yanukovich's regime in Ukraine has started a primitive, blackmailing game since the EU-Ukraine February summit. In the EU they do not understand this game, and that is bad. The so-called opposition forces in the Parliament of Ukraine seem to have joined this game which is shortfall and chiefly based on their own political calculations. Against such a background, perhaps, initialing of the agreements is more possible, but it is not clear how the situation will develop. It is not clear either how to combine processes with these association agreements with those within the EU and its member-states. Just this synchronization is the key task and requires a great amount of work. Of course, Russia will interfere in this process in different formats and at different levels. However, I do not think that what is happening in the trade relations between Ukraine and Russia is "a trade war". It seems to be a well-planned general operation. The most interesting and important thing may begin after possible signing of the agreements with Europe.
There is an opinion saying that there will be nothing following the initialing of the Association Agreement due to the discrepancies between these Agreements and the national security of Armenia, particularly, the Karabakh peace process. Some experts think that the Armenia-EU Association Agreement may share the fate of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols. Do you think this scenario possible?
Such a scenario is quite realistic. I cannot say whether it will be good or bad for Armenia. The Armenia-EU Association Agreement may share the fate of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols especially given that the EU is almost becoming a full strategic impotent against the background of the Syrian problem. The national interests of Armenia should be inviolable.
Having criticized the Kremlin’s stance, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich pointed out the need to hold a referendum in order to choose between Eurasian and European integration processes. What was the President of Ukraine guided by and is the referendum a way out of the situation?
I think Yanukovich's statement is absolutely destabilizing and primitive. Actually, Yanukovich has always been guided by personal gain and deception. Even if we suppose that Ukraine will become a member of the European Union some day, it will happen in twenty years or so. Ukraine may hold a referendum on the Customs Union but it will fall into chaos and desperation shortly after the referendum.
Some experts think that due to integration into the Customs Union, Ukraine will lose a part of its sovereignty. What risks does the European integration contain for Kyiv?
This is an important issue for the country. Ukraine does not speak about it but it will have to sooner or later. At the moment, the country does not consider transferring its sovereignty to the Customs Union. Actually, Ukraine's chances to join that structure are almost equal to zero. As regards the EU, things are much more dramatic and much more serious here. To all appearances, Ukraine will have to divide its sovereignty. Moreover, no one knows what the European Union will be like in 2015. The first parameters of the new European Union will most likely be visible following its summit in December.
Kyiv and Moscow are already conducting “trade wars” in relation to the forthcoming signing of the Association Agreement with Europe. What is the biggest threat for Ukraine? Are the benefits from European integration able to compensate for it?
I am inclined to think that there have been no “trade wars”. But if they really start, everything will develop very seriously. The biggest threat is the huge banking sector of Russia in Ukraine. However, the current regime that has almost led Ukraine to default is even a bigger threat.