by Ashot Safaryan
Armenia decided to access the Customs Union for security reasons rather than economic benefits, said Laure Delcour, a French political scientist, in an interview with RFE/RL Armenia Service.
According to her, Armenia really sought to meet the EU standards as it applied for participation in the EU partnership project. It was a clear goal for Armenia then, following the conflict in Georgia and the failed efforts to normalize relations with Turkey, Delcour said. She thinks the situation is quite different now and the EU is reluctant to revise its offers for Armenia.
The political scientist studying the poverty and migration problems, conflicts and domestic policy in the country is sure that nearly four-year-long negotiations with the EU were not in vain. Armenia has launched a series of reforms in the course of the negotiations for the Association Agreement and DCFTA but has not completed them. Nevertheless, Delcour is sure that those reforms will have certain impact on the country. She thinks that it will be hard for Armenia to transfer from the EU standards to the Russian ones, for instance in the field of food safety where Armenia has carried out quite serious reforms to bring the field in line with the EU requirements. Now, the country has to bring the field in line with the Russian standards that are quite different. This process will be financially and administratively complicated for Armenia.
Asked to comment on further financing of some Armenia-related projects after the failure to sign the Association Agreement and DCFTA with the EU, Laure Delcour said that the EU Neighborhood Program does not end with the Association Agreement. There are countries, for instance Azerbaijan or Belarus that have not even launched any negotiations for the free trade agreement. The EU implements many other projects with the partner-countries. Consequently, the AA and DCFTA is just part of the EU's projects and the cooperartion with Armenia will be continued in other fields, Delcour said.
The French expert called Armenia's decision to access the CU quite unexpected for the EU, which had no plan B. Now, the EU has to draw such plan for the countries that may not sign the AA and DCFTA. This plan will be drafted for Armenia, first, as the country has successfully completed the negotiation process unlike Azerbaijan and Belarus, Delcour said.