YEREVAN, September 30. /ARKA/. The chairman of the National Union of Armenian Employers Gagik Makaryan claimed today that a string of statements made by senior EU officials that the union will not initial an association agreement with Armenia and the stemming agreement on creation of a free trade zone should not be viewed as final.
Armenia and several other former Soviet republics, included in EU’s Eastern Partnership program were supposed to initial association agreements with EU in late November at a summit of heads of these countries, but on September 3 Armenia’s president Serzh Sargsyan announced after talks in Moscow with Russia’s Putin that Armenia would join the Russia-led Customs Union and participate in the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Peter Stano, a spokesman for EU enlargement commissioner and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele, said the EU was not going to initial the association agreement with Armenia saying that the deep and comprehensive free trade area agreement was incompatible with Armenia’s membership in the Customs Union.
Speaking at a news conference Makaryan called on EU to initial the agreements saying its refusal to do so is a political mistake. “I think EU's refusal to initial the agreements and its statement about the incompatibility of the two unions is not final," he said.
According to him, EU's allegation that Moscow used pressure against Armenia to make it join the customs union should be another reason for Europe to meet Armenia halfway and continue cooperation in this matter.
Also, speaking on the economic aspect of the issue, Makaryan said the association agreement contains elements of the generalized system of privileges (GSP +), which Armenia joined in 2009 to have obtained ample opportunities for selling its goods in Europe.
"One should change some of the items in the association agreement, adapting them to the provisions of the customs union," he said.
In conclusion, he urged the EU to reconsider its decision and political views regarding Armenia’s’ right to have an alternative and moving in two directions. -0-