Yesterday, it was stated that the president of the European Union Herman Van Rompuy will visit Armenia. It is noteworthy that the statement was issued after Konstantin Zatulin had announced about Vladimir Putin’s visit to Armenia due in September. For her part, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Armenia on June 4.
It is evident that sometimes an open fight for influence in Armenia is underway between the world centers. Russia can boast having more influence because a Russian base is situated in Armenia, while the Armenian borders are defended by Russian border guards.
The U.S. may also assure that it has influence in Armenia since during the past 20 years it has invested billions of dollars in the country’s social and economic infrastructures, it provides “saving” loans, political assistance and does not allow Moscow to push through undesirable resolutions relating to the Karabakh issue.
In the meantime, Armenia is increasingly facing Europe. This has reason. First, Armenia calls itself a member of the European family and announces commitment to the European values. Besides, if its relations with the U.S. make Russia jealous, the European bias is “safe”. Moreover, Russia itself would not mind facing the West. The U.S. would not resist if Armenia turns its face to the West.
It should be noted that Armenia is now ruled by a party which has announced integration with the EU a priority. Republican Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan believes the economic integration with Europe may open up a large market for Armenian products. The important thing is that Armenia “is forced” to carry out reform to make its economy compliant with the EU standards.
What else can Armenia win from the integration with Europe? Relating to the Karabakh issue, Europe proposes “transparent” borders. In other words, Europe thinks that the final settlement of the conflict should be postponed and confidence should be built which would enable opening of the borders.
As to the Armenian-Turkish relations, Europe’s opinion is also definite. For the past 20 years, Turkey has been made to wait in the EU “corridor”, while most European countries have recognized the Armenian genocide.
Van Rompuy’s visit will mean that the EU is going to support the integration of Armenia. In mid June, the first stage of negotiations on DCFTA will kick off and perhaps the agreement will be signed by the presidential elections of 2013.
Europe needs to support Serzh Sargsyan and his party which have perhaps made a final choice. It needs to express support before Putin’s visit in September and nomination of presidential candidates. In other words, during his visit Putin may offer Armenia loans for the construction of a nuclear plant, as well as a candidate for president other than Sargsyan.
Germany’s ambassador in Armenia Hans Jochen Schmidt says that 24 of 27 chapters of the free trade agreement between Armenia and Europe have been closed. Will and legislative amendments are necessary for the resting three points. He did not clarify what exactly he means but obviously they concern either the oligarchs or too “free” relations with Russia.
Anyway, the Republican Party has already expressed commitment to the EU integration and now it needs to make some more efforts. Perhaps, Herman Van Rompuy will help them.