YEREVAN — The European Union and Armenia will start negotiations on a new legal framework for their relations, it emerged on Monday.

Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan wrote on his Twitter account that “the EU Foreign Affairs Council has authorized the EU Commission to launch negotiations with Armenia on a new legal base.”

In a statement released today French Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Desir welcomed the approval of the negotiating mandate for an agreement of cooperation between the European Union and Armenia.

Brussels and Yerevan have been moving towards the opening of the talks since 2013 when Armenia unexpectedly decided to withdraw from the process of EU association following more than three years of negotiations on a relevant agreement.

Instead, the government in Yerevan signed up to a Moscow-led customs union and became a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) formed by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in January 2015.

It is expected that the new deal between the EU and Armenia will cover concrete areas of political and economic cooperation, but, as has repeatedly been stated by the two sides, will not contradict Armenia’s membership commitments to the EEU.

Hosting European Council President Donald Tusk in Yerevan in July Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said: “I can’t imagine Armenia’s development without reforms and I can’t imagine reforms in Armenia without [use of] European experience and assistance… Therefore, while being a member of the EEU, we will continue to closely cooperate with the EU.”

Tusk, for his part, then said: “Armenia can count on the European Union’s continued support to advance on a whole range of political and social reforms, and to improve the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

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