YEREVAN. – The European Union and Armenia are currently discussing a new deal that would serve as an alternative to their cancelled Association Agreement, a senior European parliamentarian said on Monday.
“The new agreement that is now being discussed is not an Association Agreement,” said Heidi Hautala, the co-president of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly comprising lawmakers from EU member states and ex-Soviet republics involved in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.
“It’s a special agreement which, as far as I know, does not even have a name yet. We have to understand what Armenia needs,” Hautala told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) during a Euronest session in Yerevan.
Hautala stressed that “very intensive negotiations” will be needed to work out and sign the accord. The two sides have set no deadlines for their completion, she said.
Addressing the Euronest meeting, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said Yerevan and Brussels are close to completing “consultations” on closer ties. “Armenia is ready to continue comprehensive cooperation with the European Union in all possible formats, areas and directions, while taking into consideration our obligations in other integration processes,” he said.
The Armenian authorities have been eager to negotiate a new legal framework for closer ties with the EU ever since their unexpected 2013 decision to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). They have expressed hope that it will comprise not only political but also some economic provisions of the Association Agreement which was abandoned by the EU following Yerevan’s joininmg the EEU.
Armenia’s Deputy Economy Minister Garegin Melkonian said on March 4 that official talks on the new EU-Armenia deal have still not started.
Armenia and the European Union did sign three documents which include a €10-million loan agreement for the Caucasus Electricity Transmission Network project; the memorandum of understanding on the Caucasus Electricity Transmission Network project; and the contribution agreement on Armenia’s membership in the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership Fund.