03 Feb 2015

The Rocky Road to an EU-Armenia Agreement: From U-turn to detour

Hrant Kostanyan

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The EU was taken by surprise when the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, stood by his Russian counterpart and announced Armenia’s plans to join the Russian-led Customs Union in September 2013. After all, before this announcement Armenia and the EU had successfully concluded negotiations on their Association Agreement.

Armenia is still suffering the consequences of the Kremlin’s coercion to reject this Association Agreement. Indeed, as Armenians around the world commemorate the centenary of the Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turkey, the Republic of Armenia is facing mounting challenges. The country remains subject to an economic blockade by Turkey and is in conflict with Azerbaijan.

Ever since President’s Sargsyan’s astonishing volte-face, the EU and Armenia are still in the process of trying to rework the failed agreement. The author of this commentary argues that because the future of any new agreement is uncertain, negotiations should be accompanied by a pragmatic EU-Armenia roadmap. This roadmap, alongside the start of the visa liberalisation process and Armenia’s signing up to the European Common Aviation Agreement and Horizon 2020, could become a deliverable at the Riga Summit on 21-22 May 2015.

Hrant Kostanyan is an Associate Research Fellow at CEPS and a Special Research Fund Fellow at the Centre of EU Studies at Ghent University.

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