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Armenia, Ukraine face similar problems: expert

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  • Armenia, Ukraine face similar problems: expert

    Armenia, Ukraine face similar problems: expert

    September 7, 2013 - 12:39 AMT

    PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenia's intention to join the Customs Union
    resembled the situation in Ukraine, a political analyst said.

    `On the one hand, both countries are bound with Russia. On the other
    hand, both are strongly attracted by the European values, or at least
    say so. In both countries, the public opinion is divided, some
    standing for close cooperation with Russia and some striving for
    Europe. Furthermore, both countries are under pressure of Russia and
    European Union, each trying to tip the scale,' Mikhail Beletskiy said.

    According to him, unilateral orientation to the West or Russia can
    result in serious losses. `For Ukraine, it can be a complete collapse
    of economy. Armenia can face even a greater loss if Nagorno Karabakh
    is transferred to a hostile neighbor state. Under the circumstances,
    Armenia could nothing but strengthen the union with Russia, which is
    its own real ally in the region,' the expert said.

    `As a result, Ukraine and Armenia, although still trying to pursue a
    two-vector policy, have chosen different paths. Ukraine preferred the
    European Union as the main direction, with some limited cooperation
    with the CIS member states while Armenia is headed for Russia. Time
    will show which of the decision was right,' he said, according to

    Armenia completed technical talks on a `deep and comprehensive
    free-trade agreement' (DCFTA) with the EU in July and it was set to be
    signed at a summit with the EU in late November.

    In addition to a free-trade deal, Armenia has been working towards the
    signing of an association agreement with the EU, a framework agreement
    on co-operation that is seen as a first step towards political
    integration with the EU.

    During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Armenian
    leader Serzh Sargsyan said Armenia is ready to join Customs Union,
    with further plans to be involved in formation of EurAsEC.

    Putin supported the initiative, voicing readiness to assist Armenia in
    the process. He also noted that Russian Railways may invest 15 billion
    rubles in development of Armenia's railway network.

    The Customs Union was formed in 2010 to include of Belarus,
    Kazakhstan, and Russia; Kirghizia and Tajikistan later expressed
    willingness to join the Union.

    The reaction of European officials continues to be diverse.

    When in St. Petersburg to attend the G20 summit, European Council
    President Herman Van Rompuy said that Armenia, Moldova, and, if
    possible, Ukraine will hopefully sign the Association Agreement at the
    Vilnius Summit in November 2013.

    `This is a political agreement. The Agreement would allow Armenia to
    go through comprehensive change both politically and economically.
    Therefore, after getting the news about Armenia's plans of joining the
    Custom's Union the EU expects to hear from Armenia what her further
    plans are. We have not received official explanations from Armenia,
    yet we don't think this is a zero sum game and the same refers to
    Ukraine. Some benchmarks will be necessary to meet. There are some
    outstanding issues but we hope to see results in Vilnius. We are still
    engaged with these countries and still expect to sign the Association
    Agreements,' he said.

    Meanwhile, a spokesman for Stefan Fule, the European Commissioner for
    Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, said that the European
    Parliament is not going to initialize either the Associated Agreement
    or the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with Armenia, as it's
    not compatible with membership in the Customs Union.