September 26, 2013 - 15:40 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, will meet with Foreign Ministers of the Eastern Partnership countries on the sidelines of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
“Discussions will focus on relations with the European Union and future plans in the context of the upcoming summit in Vilnius,” Trend news agency quoted Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister David Jalagania as saying.
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. 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.
However, during a Sept 3 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Armenian leader Sargsyan said Armenia is ready to join Customs Union, with further plans to be involved in formation of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Mr. Putin supported the initiative, vowing procedural assistance to Armenia.
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.
Linas Linkevicius, the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said Armenia “has blocked its chances of signing a free trade deal with the European Union by choosing to join the Russia-led union.”
“We respect any choice of countries but they cannot enter both organizations at the same time because of different tariff requirements,” he said.
In a separate statement, Linkevicius and seven other ministers from Nordic and Baltic countries warned against Russian pressure on post-Soviet states. “Any economic threat or political pressure directed against Eastern partners because of their European aspirations and engagement with the EU is unacceptable,” they said.
The Customs Union was formed in 2010 to include of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia; Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan later expressed willingness to join the Union.