October 19, 2013 - 15:39 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The association agreement is still on the agenda of the Armenia-EU negotiations, Deputy Foreign Minister told Radio Liberty’s Armenian service.
“Yerevan is currently working to introduce legal amendments to the document,” Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said. “A new association agreement might be possible, yet it requires lots of time and involvement of experts.”
The Armenian official refused to give a direct answer to whether the agreement will be signed at a Vilnius summit.
“We need to be careful here, as he process is not of a speedy sort. We’ll try to negotiate the best possible conditions,” he said.
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.
However, Armenian leadership continues expression intention to expand ties with the EU, which won't contradict Armenia's CU membership.
"Armenia will take part in the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius and is ready to sign the Association Agreement," President Serzh Sargsyan said at the October 2 PACE session.
"No Armenia-EU document is being readied to be signed at a Vilnius summit," the spokesperson of the EU Commissioner Stefan Fule said. “We’re trying to find routes for further cooperation with Armenia, based on the existing achievements,” Peter Stano said.