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How far can Armenia go in getting closer to West: Expert opinion

How far can Armenia go in getting closer to West: Expert opinion Photo:  Armenia's Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan (Getty Images)

Armenia continues its path towards Western integration and expresses the desire to resume the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union, says to RBC-Ukraine Wojciech Wojtasiewicz, an expert on the South Caucasus at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (Warsaw).

Closer ties with the European Union

Armenia's Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, affirms his commitment to diversifying security relationships. Concrete steps have been taken, including agreements for military supplies from France. In October, Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu announced that Paris would provide a certain quantity of arms, including air defense assets. In November, it was disclosed that the planned transfer of light armored vehicles Bastion to Ukraine would be redirected to Armenia.

Since February 2023, a Civilian Mission of the European Union (EUMA) has been operating in Armenia. This neutral mission, exclusively active on Armenian territory, lacks executive functions. It is designed for a two-year term to contribute to stability in Armenia's border regions and normalize relations with Azerbaijan.

Additionally, an Agreement on Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership is in effect between Brussels and Yerevan. Pashinyan considers it one of the pillars of reforms in Armenia, expressing the ambition to draw closer to the EU and cooperate on police reform, the judicial system, education, and public administration.

The Armenian government aims to return to the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU

As the first step towards strengthening cooperation, on December 11, the EU expanded its mission from 138 to 209 personnel. Foreign Minister of Armenia, Ararat Mirzoyan, made a series of statements affirming a pro-European direction. He welcomed the decision to start negotiations on the EU accession of Ukraine and Moldova, not only on behalf of the government but also on behalf of the Armenian people. According to him, the process of democratization and reform in the country "will not stop for a moment."

Expert Wojciech Wojtasiewicz suggests that the authorities aim to return to the signing of the Association Agreement. The document was ready in 2013, but then-President Serzh Sargsyan received a call from the Kremlin and ultimately declined. Following this, Vladimir Putin initiated the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Armenia is eager to secure visa-free access to the EU

The Armenian government now seeks a new agreement with the European Union, with the expansion of the observer mission marking the initial move.

"Secondly, they want to obtain a visa-free regime so Armenians can travel to EU countries without Schengen visas. They also want a free trade zone. In principle, this is the most important. Additionally, negotiations are underway with the US and France on constructing a power plant to reduce dependence on Russian resources and gas. But implementing such decisions quickly is difficult; it will take time," Wojtasiewicz explained.

The details of what is happening in the triangle of Armenia - the West - Russia are discussed in the material by RBC-Ukraine.