The European Union has thrown Armenia into a dilemma: either the EU or Russia, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said at a NATO Rose Roth conference in Yerevan on Friday.
An EADaily correspondent quotes Nalbandian as saying that when Armenia started its association talks with the EU, it made it clear that it was also planning to join the Eurasian Economic Union and unless it was an obstacle, was ready to develop its ties with the EU.
“We started the talks and were very close to signing the association and DCFTA agreements, but, all of a sudden, they in Brussels told us, ‘you have to choose: either the EU or Russia,’” Nalbandian said.
“During the meetings of the EU foreign ministers, I kept saying that it was hard to keep something secret in the presence of 28 EU and 6 Eastern Partnership FMs. During a meeting in Krakow, I said that the EU’s approach was not right and that the choice they forced us to make might cause some new problems,” Nalbandian said.
“And even though Catherine Ashton supported me, the EU said that it was a political choice. I said, “What political choice are you talking about? We made our political choice several thousand years ago. Yes, we want to have close political and economic relations with the EU, but we also want to have active ties in other directions,” Nalbandian said.
It should be noted that Nalbandian said this in the presence of Chargé d'Affaires of the EU Delegation to Armenia Dirk Lorenz as well as the German, British, Italian, Polish and Lithuanian ambassadors to Armenia, but none of them said anything in response.
When Serbian MP Dubravka Filipovski said that it was Armenia’s decision to refuse to sign the association agreement with the EU, Nalbandian said that it was not a unilateral decision. “Two days after our decision to join the Eurasian Economic Union, I was in Brussels and said that we were ready to sign both the association and DCFTA agreements, but they told me that that was contrary to our future membership. We said, ‘let’s drop the parts that are contrary and sign the parts concerning association.’ They said the DCFTA and the association agreements were one document, but later they signed with Ukraine only the association agreement. In other words, we did not refuse to sign. But I think that at that moment things depended not so much on us as on some other factors,” Nalbandian said.
On the other hand, the Armenian foreign minister said that the last EP Summit in Riga was quite positive and paved the way for talks concerning a new framework agreement.
“We will continue our cooperation with the EU in all possible directions, including economy, but will keep in mind our obligations under other formats,” Nalbandian said.