YEREVAN — Armenia will be able to deepen its ties with the European Union even after its planned accession to a Russian-dominated alliance of former Soviet republics, a senior Polish official said during a visit to Yerevan on Wednesday.
“In any case we are quite sure that we — Armenia and Europe — will be closer next year,” Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tomasz Orlowski told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in an interview.
Orlowski said in that regard that Brussels and Yerevan will likely identify “common goals” at the next EU summit on the Eastern Partnership program that will take place in Latvia’s capital Riga in 2015.
The program offers six ex-Soviet states, including Armenia, the prospect of much closer partnership with the EU, notably through wide-ranging “association agreements,” conditional on economic and political reforms.
The Armenian government was on track to sign such an agreement with the EU until President Serzh Sarkisian’s unexpected decision in August 2013 to make Armenia part of Russia’s Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan. The EU responded by abandoning the deal. Sarkisian’s government has since been trying to sign a slimmed-down Association Agreement that would not include free trade-related provisions contradicting membership in the Russian-led bloc. The EU’s executive European Commission and most member states have been cool towards the idea so far.
Orlowski, whose country is a key backer of the Eastern Partnership, spoke of a “new agreement” which he said Yerevan is due to propose to the EU. But he did not specify whether it too will call for political association.
The high-ranking Polish diplomat met with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on Tuesday as part of regular consultations held by the Armenian and Polish foreign ministries. Nalbandian’s press office said Armenia’s ties with the EU within the Eastern Partnership framework were on the meeting’s agenda. But it gave no details.
“I heard the confirmation of the same line: Armenia is still interested to find its own way for approaching Europe,” Orlowski told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
He said that the EU, for its part, has decided to adopt a more differentiated approach to the Eastern Partnership countries. “Now, one year on, we have realized that we need to take into account the very specific situation of each country,” he said.