Commissioner: future Association Agreements with Eastern Partners are game changer in post-soviet space
At the Eastern Partnership Vilnius Summit on 28-29 November, the EU will aim to sign one of the Association Agreements (with Ukraine) and initial others, in what EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle described as “a quantum leap towards the real transformation in that post soviet space” and “a game changer”. Addressing the EU Neighbourhood East Parliamentary Assembly (EURONEST) in Brussels yesterday, Füle said the EU and its partners would seek “to deliver on the most far reaching agreement the EU ever concluded with partners, an Association Agreement (AA) including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA); an instrument for political association and economic integration.”
The Commissioner voiced hope that at the summit, Association Agreements will also be initialed with Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and progress will be achieved over the visa liberalisation action plans with some countries. Besides, the summit is expected to deliver on concrete infrastructure projects, such as the Eastern Partnership transport network, said Füle.
In his speech, Štefan Füle addressed the issue of how to steer the EU’s relations with the Eastern Partners in the future, once the Association Agreements are signed. He said it would be challenging to keep the level of engagement as high and intensive as during the process of negotiations.
The Vilnius summit will be about differentiation, Füle emphasized, citing the “more for more” principle underlying the Eastern Partnership. “It is not only that the more you commit to reforms the more support you get but also the more ambitious you are the more demanding we get and the more we expect from you especially from the countries that have a European Union aspiration,” the Commissioner stressed.
Turning to the role of the civil society, Füle said it was increasingly involved in building the Partnership through National platforms as well as at a multinational level.
As regards EU-Russia relations, the Commissioner said “the more we cooperate with our partners the more we feel the need to strengthen and widen the exchange of views with Russia” over a range of issues, including those related to the shared neighbourhood. In particular, he referred to the lack of compatibility between the future Association Agreements (with the Eastern Partners) and (Russia’s)Customs union. Füle said the EU was keen for its partners “to strengthen their relationships with Russia” and was ready to discuss with the Eastern Partners and Moscow the policies of the Customs union and Eurasian union “where the partners could participate without putting into question the content of the Association Agreement negotiations.”
The Commissioner cited the EU’s offer to strengthen contacts between the European Commission and Eurasian union on some of the most important areas such as the regulatory framework, stressing: “We are keen to see that the European Union regulatory work is compatible with the Eurasian union side.” (EU Neighbourhood Info)
At the press conference held on June 3 the Head of the Armenian Delegation of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly (PA), members of the Delegation Karine Atchemyan, Hrant Bagratyan, Elinar Vardanyan and Naira Zohrabyan summed up their results of visit to Brussels on May 27-29.
Artak Zakaryan said that the members of the Delegation presented in the Committee on Political Affairs, Human Rights and Democracy reports on regional security challenges in the Eastern Partner countries, in the Committee on Energy Security – on energy security in connection with energy market and harmonisation between the Eastern European partner and the EU countries , in the Committee on Social Affairs, Education, Culture and Civil Society – on combating poverty and social exclusion in the Eastern Partner Countries, and in Committee on Economic Integration – approximation of the national legislation of Eastern Partnership countries with EU legislation in the economic field..
The Head of the Delegation noted that a group of deputies from Azerbaijan, Georgia and European countries presented recommendations on all four reports, which had contradicted Armenia’s interests. Artak Zakaryan said that before the Euronest during the meeting of the EPP faction an agreement had been reached, according to which, they had taken back their recommendations.
According to Artak Zakaryan, at the last moment the Azerbaijanis entered a draft report in the agenda through the secretariat “Restriction of the Water Resources in Armenia and with that Threatening the Nature Protection of Azerbaijan.” It was noted that the Armenian Delegation had been against entering the item in the agenda and debating it, as Azerbaijan tried to use this platform for carrying out anti-Armenian campaign. Finally, the Armenian Delegation had succeeded to remove it from the debate and from the agenda of the plenary session.
The Deputy Chair of the Euronest Committee on Political Affairs, Human Rights and Democracy Naira Zohrabyan underlined that Azerbaijan tried to use any circumstance for advancing the foreign political interest of its country. The deputy stressed that in pursuing the national interest the Armenian Delegation had been united, but there were items, where the members of the Delegation had voted stemming from the approaches of their political force.
The member of the Delegation Elinar Vardanyan said that the Azerbaijanis wanted to make appropriate any item under discussion to their interests; even the item under discussion had no relation to the territories and the conflict. It was noted that Azerbaijan had tried also to include its recommendations during the discussion of the resolution in the Committee on Social Affairs, Education, Culture and Civil Society, which related to the problem of poverty.
Artak Zakaryan informed those present that the nest, fourth plenary session of the Euronest will be held in Yerevan in the autumn of 2014.