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 Thursday, July 17 2014 11:07:05

Yerevan press club

MYTHS ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT

MYTHS ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT

 


For about four years Armenia was engaged in
negotiations around the Association Agreement with the European Union which can
be considered as one of the most successful negotiation rounds in the history
of the modern Armenian diplomacy. To a certain extent these negotiations contradict
the generally accepted notion that EU maintains a harsh dialogue with all those
seeking rapprochement with the European community. On most of the provisions
that could potentially cause “discomfort” for Yerevan and create obstacles for the
fulfillment of its obligations, the Armenian side managed to bargain fairly
flexible formulations.


It is these sections of the Agreement which
became the subject of the most active manipulation on part of opponents
(explicit and implicit) of the Association Agreement. Notably, there were
speculations that the new level of relations with the EU will restrain
Armenia's cooperation with its strategic ally Russia. Artificial formulas of "either-or",
"no-no", "and-and" were put into circulation for the
purposes of propaganda. As a prove of the "either-or" principle,
allegedly imposed by the European Union, the statements of some EU officials
about the incompatibility of the Association Agreement and membership in the
Customs Union (CU) were brought. And this interpretation from time to time was supported
by representatives of RA authorities insisting that they have always been
proponents of the "and-and" formula and that they were surprised with
the announced incompatibility of the two integration projects. In fact, Armenian
political elites and the media controlled by them were playing naive. In reality
though, the Association Agreement with the EU, including the integration into
the free trade zone, in no way restrained Yerevan from engaging in SYMETRIC
integration schemes. Armenia could join other free trade zones, including conclusion
of similar agreements with Russia and other former Soviet countries. In this
regard, the Association Agreement allowed for the realization of the “and-and”
formula at its best. Whereas the Customs Union prohibits engagement in other
integration processes with its protectionist mechanisms, imposing the formula
of “or-or” on its members.


Armenian community was forced upon the idea
that, say, "it is impossible to be in one security system (meaning the
membership of RA in the Collective Security Treaty Organization- Auth.), and be
economically integrated into an alternative system at the same time." First,
Armenia was not to be integrated into an “alternative” system; RA would retain
the freedom to maintain relations similar to the scheme of EU’s economic
relations with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, as it is mentioned above. If the
Association Agreement implied higher standards for the Armenian products
bidding for free access to EU markets, other trade partners of Yerevan (same
Moscow, Astana or Minsk) would only benefit from that. By the way,
correspondent standards adopted by one of the founding countries of CU - Belarus,
are now higher than in the whole Customs Union... Secondly, Turkey’s accession
was seriously discussed in the framework of the Customs Union. President of
Kazakhtan Nursultan Nazarbaev even made a formal proposal to Ankara. But how
about Turkey’s membership in the political-military alliance of NATO?  Or maybe the officials in CU capitals are so
naïve that they allow for the possibility of Turkey’s exit from NATO? All these
arguments against the association with EU intended for duped audience do not
deserve a name other than demagogy. 


Armenia’s membership in the CSTO was
fundamentally considered in its variant of the Association Agreement with EU; this
circumstance led to a much more modest section of the document pertaining  the partnership in the spheres of security
than in case of the other three countries (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), which
have views for the membership in NATO. The Agreement did not contain any
prerequisites to review the contractual obligations of Yerevan with CSTO
partners. Also, as appose to the other three countries, Armenia did not raise
the issue of prospective EU membership and did not assume to make any changes
in the bilateral relations with Russia or interactions within the CIS.  In other words, nobody would force Armenia to
choose “EU or Russia” in case the agreement was signed. At least in case of
Armenia, the assurances given by EU that the Eastern Partnership is not directed
against Moscow’s interests and its relations with partner countries had a good
reason. To suggest otherwise is tantamount to the view that socio-economic and
political development of Armenia, as such, is already against Russian
interests. If so, then the problem is not in the relations of Armenia with EU
but rather with those who formulate and try to realize such “interests” of
Moscow...


 Another
myth regarding the Association Agreement has to do with one of the most
sensitive issues for the public opinion in Armenia - the Mountainous Karabagh
conflict. Opponents of the agreement were actively spreading false information
that the text of the agreements contains a provision on the future status of MK
unacceptable for the national interests of RA. It’s hard to say on who or what
the authors of the misinformation were counting on because for any person even
remotely familiar with resolution of the conflicts similar to Mountainous
Karabagh, it’s obvious that the format and character of  negotiations around the Association Agreement
excludes the very possibility of stipulation on MK status in that document. At
the same time, as the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council of May 29 in Astana
proved, real risks for the unrecognized republic rather exist in the framework
of Customs (Eurasian) Union.


Even in a question of the future of Metsamor
nuclear power plant where the position of the Armenian side is highly
vulnerable given the security risks posed by the plant, the Association
Agreement provided “softer” formulations compared to the preceding documents
regulating EU-RA relations. In the Agreement the prospect of closing the
nuclear power plant was directly linked to the issue of energy security of
Armenia insured by alternative means. Now compare these approaches with
“integration” process of Armenia in Eurasian Economic Union…

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