Doesn’t the European Union have an answer?

The EU Summit in Vilnius is just around the corner, but EU leader Catherine Ashton is really confused and doesn’t know what to offer Armenia, what to talk about and what document to suggest. The fact of the matter is that for the past four years, the EU had been leading negotiations with Armenia on the Associated Agreement, had been making pledges that obviously attracted and motivated the Armenian side, had been obliging Armenia to make certain plans, as well as consider the establishment of new relations with the European Union and the creation of new concepts. Armenia’s Prime Minister was developing plans for European orientation, helping approximate Armenian banks with European financial institutions and introducing new provisions for financial priorities in today’s world, and Armenian businessmen were expecting Europe to do everything possible to make Armenia’s economy integrate into Europe, establish new and tempting markets and help make Armenia’s products competitive, which would match the amounts of exports with the amounts of products. Unquestionably, European integration promised new perspectives for Armenia and obliged Armenia to revise several approaches and main principles in its foreign and economic policies.

But during these four years, the EU only made statements and didn’t really do anything for Armenia. What’s more, Ashton very often disappointed the Armenian society and authorities, aspired for populism and adjustment in relation to the issues of Armenians and the Azerbaijanis and turned subjectivity into a working style. The European Union’s indifference towards Armenia’s blockade could never instill hope that the European Union could take action after the signing of the Associated Agreement. Meanwhile, the blockade on the part of two CoE member countries against a third country also should have become one of the items on the EU’s agenda and should have made that structure talk to Turkey and Azerbaijan with ultimatums since the values of Europe were at risk.

The EU’s key objective, as analyses have shown, was to separate Armenia from Russia, reduce Russia’s influence in the region, but never to show interest in Armenia’s interests. This is clear and evident, especially since the EU had demanded that Armenia disregard the agreements on strategic partnership with Russia and didn’t offer any alternative to that. However, everyone knows that Armenia and Russia have conventional ties that trace back to the Gyulistan Treaty and have been seen in different periods throughout history. By being a part of the Soviet Union from 1920 to 1992, Armenia totally relied on Russia, and after gaining independence in 1992, Armenia considered its partnership with Russia primary and obviously took certain steps towards the West in order to establish business relations. Today, Armenia’s partnership with Russia is also bound by several challenges facing the country. Unquestionably, the strengthening of economic relations with Russia is the result of the blockade.

The fact that Armenia-European Union relations are desired for Armenia is irrefutable. Armenians can’t live in an intricate region and be detached from Europe. Armenia also needs European integration because in any case, Armenia is one of the creators and bearers of the European values system. Being at the crossroads of civilizations and having an interesting geopolitical position, Armenia truly needs to stretch towards Europe and establish close ties with the West. The Armenian authorities took this into consideration and collaborated with the European Union for the past four years, but the EU didn’t give Armenia any guarantees for security, a fair solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and the multilateral strategic partnership. Its only demand was to break away from Russia…The EU has never conducted an in-depth discussion on Armenia’s problems and position before it would suggest that the country join the Associated Agreement.  Armenia is one of the world’s exceptional countries that can’t be detached from Russia and rely merely on cooperation with the European Union. Armenia serves as a unique bridge connecting Europe, Asia and Eurasia, being surrounded by Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia, which are countries that can never be considered Armenia’s friendly countries since the key objective of the Georgia-Azerbaijan-Turkey tandem is to isolate Armenia from the outside world and all regional programs. Iran has its interests, in the context of which Armenia may play a small role since Iran’s key objective is to establish rule in the East, establish some kind of relations with the West, for which it can only take advantage of the services provided by Armenia. With an interesting position among these countries, Armenia can become a very interesting junction for the world. Here Europe and Asia can carry out their plans to turn Armenia into a place and center for gathering in the region. Of course, the Armenian government didn’t consider this idea for years and didn’t want to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and gave a justification for that. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Azerbaijan’s belligerent statements kept Armenia away from taking drastic steps and from the change of descendants in foreign policy, and Europe didn’t want to see all that Armenia has to offer. Europe was only content with making short and incomplete statements and expressing pro-Azerbaijani positions. Perhaps that favors Europe since Azerbaijan is currently the new economic “beast” that has oil which Europe can use for free, weakening Europe’s dependence on Russia. The United States views Azerbaijan as the starting point for military operations during a possible war against Iran.

And now, Mrs. Ashton is truly in a state of confusion. For the first time, it’s safe to say that Armenia didn’t submit to Russia’s pressures and joined the Customs Union, but the EU wasn’t able to justify its invitation and wasn’t able to give warrants. What’s more, the EU embarrassed itself by being passive when Armenia had problems with Hungary and defending Azerbaijan, “reminding” the European Parliament to adopt the anti-Armenian agreement on the Eastern Partnership, which destroyed many notions in law. Now Armenia has the wonderful opportunity to state its claims to Europe in Vilnius and analyze the EU’s activities in the past four years. This means that no matter how much several political scientists view the situation pessimistically, the ball is in Armenia’s court. Armenia is in a favorable situation and should use this playing card…To use that playing card Armenia needs the support and lobbying from Diaspora Armenian organizations. Today, we regret to mention that Diaspora Armenian organizations kept silent after the adoption of the agreement On Eastern Partnership in the PACE. Perhaps those organizations should have collaborated with Armenia’s political authorities and diplomatic structures. Now, let’s hope the situation will change and that we will state our demands and expectations together.
Levon Mutafyan

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