The European Union is not ready and doesn't even want to start war with Russia to bring Armenia back to the European path.
High-ranking Lithuanian officials openly told us, Armenian journalists, about it during the meetings held in Vilnius a few days ago. I would like to recall that Eastern Partnership Summit is due to be held in Lithuania in late November and Armenia-EU Association Agreement was expected to be signed during the Summit. It needs to be noted (for those who doesn't know yet) that the Armenian President decided by himself on September 3 that our country should pursue another path, and so the talks with EU completed.
Our meetings with Lithuanian officials were off-the-record that's why I can't reveal the names of my conversationalists due to professional ethic norms. Instead, I will present the main theses concerning the future of Armenia's relations with EU and EU member states.
• No other document than the Association Agreement will be signed with Armenia simply because 26 EU member states should give their consent to working out and signing a new document and it's a long process. It needs to be recalled that the very talks on Association Agreement lasted 3.5 years which was preceded by the consent of the negotiating sides. Besides, EU got a mandate for negotiating around Association Agreement from its members: the European Commission isn't authorized to discuss and sign any other document with Armenia.
• All Armenia's attempts to sign only the political component of the Association Agreement are destined to fail: the EU won't take up the step for several reasons and one of them is that the Agreement on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) makes an inseparable part of the major agreement. The second reason is that that's what Russia is willing, so there's no point in even dreaming about it.
• The EU is not ready and doesn't even want to launch "war" against Russia to bring Armenia back to the European path. EU regrets Armenia renounced further integration but stresses it was only our choice and it's no use to accuse anyone of it. To prove this point, they indicate Moldova's and Ukraine's examples on which Russia has been exerting unprecedented pressure for already several months (even stronger than on Armenia) but the countries still resolve to sign the Association Agreement and join the European family.
• Russia and EU use completely different tools while relating with their partners. For instance, the EU can't close borders for certain food without any explanations or ban the gas transfer while it's quite common for Russia. During the days of our visit, hundreds of trucks carrying milk products piled up on the same Russia-Lithuania border as their entrance to Russia was banned without any explanation.
• The EU is ready to provide tools to the countries which signed Association Agreement to resist Russia's pressures. They are going to offer the option of free entrance of Moldovan wine to European markets, some energy projects to Ukraine and some other benefits. It's not yet known how effective the tools will prove to be but the European officials claim numerous Russia-oriented EU states passed the same way including the same Lithuania. The DCFTA in itself is a very powerful tool it should just be effectively used.
• What happened to Armenia is bad first of all for Armenia and the Armenian people as the EU will move forward both with or without Armenia whereas choosing the Customs and Eurasian Unions, Armenia should shift its economic orientation to the Russian market. At the same time, the Armenian legislative field which is far more progressive and liberal than Russian should be changed. The tax duties for EU-imported goods will considerably increase and it won't be profitable to trade with Europe.
I would like to note that despite all the mentioned, the Armenian President is expected to take part in Vilnius Summit in late November. Visa Regime Facilitation and some other documents are expected to be signed. The Europeans hope Armenia won't stop its participation in Eastern Partnership program and there will be possible to find alternative option of cooperation. They also expressed the confidence that the Armenian delegation won't be received coldly unlike the Belarusian one which participation in the Summit is still open to a question.
By the way, we flew to Vilnius through Moscow. It turned out at the airport that Russian, Belarusian and Kazakhstan citizens who were leaving for countries as transit passengers had to get the luggage in Moscow, pass customs and passport check and only after go back to the waiting room. It occurs, soon Armenian citizens will also have to join them...
Davit Alaverdyan is the Chief Editor of Mediamax.