September 20, 2013 - 16:43 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The European Union activated work to involve a number of countries from the post-Soviet space into the Eastern Partnership following Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Russian Duma's foreign affairs committee said.
Russia’s Duma is studying the statement to be issued in response to European Parliament’s resolution accusing Russia of pressuring the so-called Eastern Partnership states.
“Brussels was deeply dissatisfied with Armenian leadership’s decision to join the Customs Union. It came as a shock and was taken as a signal for a counterattack, seeing as the Eastern Partnership plan aimed to subdue a number of CIS states to the EU policy might be threatened,” Pushkov said.
As he noted, it was this fear that prompted the European Parliament’s accusatory resolution as well as the statement by the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Stefan Fule suggesting EU’s intention to support Ukraine’s sovereignty in decision-making.
“European Parliament’s understanding is that sovereign decisions are those which might alienate Ukraine from Russia to engulf the former into the EU’s sphere of influence. And the pressure that Ukraine’s been submitted to in this matter exceeded any we’ve witnessed so far,” RIA Novosti quoted Pushkov as saying.
As Commissioner Fule said during the Yalta European Strategy conference, EU is still willing to develop cooperation with Armenia despite the latter’s preference for the Russia-led Customs Union.
The Armenia-EU ties have cooled down following President Sargsyan’s voicing Armenia’s readiness to join Customs Union, with further plans to be involved in formation of Eurasian Economic Union.
However, later the European Commission said that the Association Agreement (including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area) with Armenia can be compatible with economic cooperation with the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
When in St. Petersburg to attend the G20 summit, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said that Armenia, Moldova, and, if possible, Ukraine will hopefully sign the Association Agreement at the Vilnius Summit in November 2013.
“This is a political agreement. The Agreement would allow Armenia to go through comprehensive change both politically and economically. Therefore, after getting the news about Armenia’s plans of joining the Custom’s Union the EU expects to hear from Armenia what her further plans are. We have not received official explanations from Armenia, yet we don’t think this is a zero sum game and the same refers to Ukraine. Some benchmarks will be necessary to meet. There are some outstanding issues but we hope to see results in Vilnius. We are still engaged with these countries and still expect to sign the Association Agreements,” he said.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Stefan Fule, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, said that the European Parliament is not going to initialize either the Associated Agreement or the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with Armenia, as it’s not compatible with membership in the Customs Union.