September 4, 2013 - 13:34 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Secretary General of the European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA) Michael Kambeck believes that Armenia’s decision to join the Russia-initiated Customs Union “was not a free choice”.
Kambeck urged the EU to “find a new modus operandi with Armenia, which visibly wants to cooperate closely with the EU but apparently is restricted by a third country”.
Armenia completed technical talks on a ‘deep and comprehensive free-trade agreement' (DCFTA) with the EU in July and it was set to be signed at a summit with the EU in late November. The EU has repeatedly stated publicly and privately that membership of the Eurasian Customs Union – whose members are Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan – is “incompatible” with a DCFTA, The European Voice says.
In addition to a free-trade deal, Armenia has been working towards the signing of an association agreement with the EU, a framework agreement on co-operation that is seen as a first step towards political integration with the EU.
During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Armenian leader Serzh Sargsyan said Armenia is ready to join Customs Union, with further plans to be involved in formation of EurAsEC.
Mr. Putin supported the initiative, voicing readiness to assist Armenia in the process. He also noted that Russian Railways may invest 15 billion rubles in development of Armenia's railway network.
The Customs Union was formed in 2010 to include of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia; Kirghizia and Tajikistan later expressed willingness to join the Union.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt described Armenia’s intention as a U-turn in relations with the European Union. “Seems as if Armenia will break talks on free trade agreement with EU and integrate with Russia instead,” he said on his Twitter account.