YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The head of the European Union Delegation in Yerevan, Piotr Switalski, expressed confidence on Monday that the EU and Armenia will successfully implement a newly signed agreement to deepen their political and economic relations.
Switalski refused to be drawn on the EU’s response to the Armenian government’s possible failure to honor its new commitments stemming from the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed in Brussels on Friday.
“I don’t find it appropriate to speak of sanctions or failures because I am quite optimistic that this agreement will give new impetus to our cooperation,” he told a news conference. “I am always optimistic. I was optimistic months ago that this agreement will be signed this year, and I am equally optimistic about its implementation.”
“We will succeed. I am confident,” added the diplomat.
Citing “common values” shared by the two sides, the CEPA commits the Armenian government to implementing political reforms and “approximating” national economic laws and regulations to those of the EU. Yerevan will regularly report to Brussels on “the progress made with regard to approximation” specified by several annexes to the agreement. This “regulatory harmonization” will cover business regulation, agriculture, transport, environment, consumer protection and even energy.
The 350-page document does not contain far-reaching free trade-related provisions, unlike an Association Agreement that was negotiated by Armenian and EU officials in the summer of 2013. That deal fell through after the Armenian leadership opted to join a Russian-led trade bloc.
Switalski also announced that the EU plans to provide Armenia with up to 170 million euros ($200 million) in fresh economic aid by 2020. “But this does not include those opportunities that have been opened up by this agreement,” he said. “I hope that we will be able to use those funds very efficiently.”
Speaking at Friday’s signing ceremony in Brussels, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the CEPA “will broaden the scope of our relations.” “It will now be important to implement it in full, so it can deliver its full benefits,” she said. “We will work together on implementation and on monitoring the implementation we will bring forward.”