By K. M. Greg Sarkissian
The European Union (EU) and Armenia signed a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on November 24, 2017, in the presence of high representatives of both parties.
The US and Russia should support this agreement because Armenia lies along the geopolitical fault lines of two civilizations: the East and the West, Europe and Asia, Christendom and Islam. This agreement enhances the neutrality of Armenia and the security in the region.
The EU will be supporting democratic reforms in governance, the rule of law, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedom, the independence of the judiciary, and the development of public and social institutions in Armenia. CEPA also enables cooperation in the energy, transport, environment and trade sectors. It also promises improvements in banking, travel and business infrastructures along with investment opportunities and a healthier environment. CEPA does not include free trade arrangements as Armenia is a member of Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
The road to EU integration enjoys broad consensus among Armenians in the political arena and civil society. Armenia chose this path because it is public knowledge that its discontinuation in 2013 of its newly-minted association with EU was due to clear warnings from Moscow that its security guarantees by Russia would be withdrawn if it proceeded with the association agreement. In fact, Armenia was the first country that experienced strong backlash from Russia in response to its negotiations with EU due to the problems in Ukraine.
Armenia signed this agreement knowing well that it needs the establishment of active bilateral relations with as many countries as feasible to overcome the risk of isolation and garner guarantees for its national security. One presumes that Moscow has been kept informed all along that Yerevan will sign such an Agreement.