‘CEPA must be saved and signed as soon as possible’ – EuFoA Director Diogo Pinto’s interview for 1in.am

In his interview to Aram Sargsyan from Armenian news agency 1in.am, EuFoA Director Diogo Pinto talks about the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit and the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

 

Just one week left until the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels, where  the Armenian side is expected to sign the CEPA document with the EU. During the last weeks we were discussing the a delay in the signing of the Agreement  due to some technical problems, like translation or legal review. More importantly, there are reasons to assume that the bigger problem may be related with the Summit Declaration, particularly the part on regional conflict resolution. So what is the situation now, a few days before this event? What can you predict?

 

Very good, but very difficult question… it seems indeed that the Eastern Partnership Summit Declaration is proving to be a more difficult negotiation than most of us had anticipated… I am not privy to those negotiations, but from what I am able to gather from the contacts I have, the parts about conflict resolution are indeed, and still, an obstacle for reaching consensus. Actually, when you think of it, it isn’t even surprising; after all, Azerbaijan has been using the same tactics over and over again, regarding all resolutions, reports, or any other document discussed in the European Parliament, Euronest, etc., remotely connected to the region or the relations between the EU and its Eastern partners. You give them any topic, and they manage to make it about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict… With recent developments, the EU has become more rational, principled, and also more pragmatic in its approach to the countries of the Eastern Partnership. Let’s not forget, for instance, the position that the European Parliament just adopted regarding the Summit, and the language it uses. It seems to be a very balanced position, and it gathered an overwhelming support in the European Parliament… but, obviously, Azerbaijan is not ready to accept this constructive position, and will try to use its “veto power” to push for a more pro-Azerbaijani language… which, in turn, Armenia is not going to accept. So, I think we will have to wait and see… I think that all the scenarios are still on the table, and I am not sure that anyone at this stage can make very informed predictions.

 

What I do still hope, on the other hand, is that both parties can distinguish and separate this Summit Declaration discussion from the signature of the agreement. CEPA has been negotiated, initialed, and it will be ready to be signed soon (if not yet). And therefore it should be signed as soon as possible, regardless of what happens around the Eastern Partnership Summit and its Final Declaration. Emotions need to be controlled, and I would strongly urge the Armenian side not to fall into the Azerbaijani trap… ultimately, what Azerbaijan has been trying to do for some time already is to prevent this comprehensive and enhanced partnership between Armenia and the EU; Armenia cannot let that happen. CEPA must be saved and signed as soon as possible!

 

One more question on the security aspect of this topic. Do you think CEPA, as a significant success of Armenian foreign policy in terms of diversification and balancing, will, even indirectly, strengthen Armenia’s security? If you agree with this point, then how do you imagine that possible positive impact?

 

CEPA itself doesn’t contain any defense or other hard security provisions; but even if we stick to the content of the agreement, we must recognize that both the economic aspects and the political cooperation foreseen will contribute to Armenia’s long-term security. A more democratic, fairer, wealthier country will be a more secure country. And that is CEPA’s promise for Armenia. Also, if you do the exercise of going beyond the exact text of the agreement, you will certainly come to the conclusion that having a deeper partnership with the EU will make Armenia safer and more secure. After all, it is no secret for anyone that the more the EU and its Member States invest in Armenia (and I don’t refer to capital investments only), the more committed they will be to Armenia’ security and stability. Azerbaijan has understood it, and that is why it is so worried about CEPA; hopefully Armenia understands it too.

The full interview is available HERE (in Armenian)

 

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