Time in Yerevan: 11:07,   24 May 2024

Iran has no reason to be concerned about the rapprochement of Armenia-EU relations - political scientist

Iran has no reason to be concerned about the rapprochement of Armenia-EU relations - 
political scientist

YEREVAN, APRIL 12, ARMENPRESS. Armenia's relations with the European Union and the West, in general, have indeed reached an unprecedented level of volume and quality because new avenues and spheres of cooperation have been delineated, indicating significant potential for further development. This marks the onset of a new phase in relations, with Armenia being increasingly perceived by the West as a democratic state striving to confront various challenges and threats posed by authoritarian regimes.

Political scientist Edgar Vardanyan expressed this opinion in an interview with "Armenpress," referring to the evolving relations between Armenia and the European Union.

"There is a perception in the West that Armenia views itself as part of the Western sphere in terms of values and civilization. Recent actions by Armenia have led the West to believe that our country is undergoing radical changes in its foreign policy, driven by two primary objectives. Firstly, Armenia faces significant security challenges that require alignment with the Western sphere to address and resolve. Secondly, foreign policy changes are expected to catalyze the deepening of democratic reforms within Armenia," Vardanyan said.

According to the political scientist, first and foremost, the EU is a political and economic structure. Therefore, we should assess how it can contribute to the strengthening of our security, regardless of other factors.

''We have already established certain formats and mechanisms, one of which, for example, is the mission of European observers stationed along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border—an unprecedented phenomenon. While it is technically a civilian mission, its objective is to contribute to security efforts aimed at bolstering peace. Moreover, years ago, the EU introduced a significant initiative known as the Peace Fund. This initiative offers specific tools to non-EU member states to address their security challenges. Although the majority of the fund's activities are geared towards supporting Ukraine, given the recent meeting in Brussels on April 5, we can anticipate cooperation in this direction as well. Armenia stands to benefit from accessing certain funds that will be utilized to fortify our security," said our interlocutor.

According to Vardanyan's observation, it is evident that France, as a member of the EU, is fostering an unprecedented military-political cooperation with Armenia, despite Armenia's status as an ally of the Russian Federation. This cooperation also holds significant potential for further development.

"We are receiving weapons from France, and that country has recently expressed its profound support for Armenia in a much more significant manner. Negotiations are also underway with the United States regarding how Washington can support the strengthening of our security. The US ambassador recently mentioned that they will provide us with, for example, armored mobile vehicles to offer medical assistance to the military. It's crucial to remember that even formal and inactive participation in the CSTO poses a certain obstacle to deepening Armenia's military-political cooperation with the West. While relations can progress within certain constraints and reach a certain threshold, further deepening may already hinge on whether we continue to maintain our formal ties with the CSTO and whether we reconsider Armenian-Russian strategic relations," said the political scientist.

According to Vardanyan, the improvement of relations between the Republic of Armenia and the EU is not aimed at targeting third countries, particularly the Islamic Republic of Iran. Therefore, the Iranian side has no reason to be concerned in this regard.

The EU also acknowledges that Armenia maintains strong and amicable relations with Iran. Generally, the West, including the EU, is endeavoring to enhance ties with Iran. While neighboring countries outside of the Western sphere may harbor certain apprehensions about the deepening relations between our country and the European Union, these concerns are unfounded. It is important for us to demonstrate the irrationality of these fears. In turn, the EU is making efforts to address and alleviate such concerns," explained our interlocutor.

Speaking about the prospects of Republic of Armenia-EU economic relations, Vardanyan emphasized that our country is not yet prepared to fully integrate into the European economy. However, he noted that the situation could change favorably in a very short period of time.

It is imperative for the European integration process to be bilateral. On one hand, we must ensure that all legislative and administrative regulations are aligned with European standards, and our businesses must strive to enhance product quality, acquire new equipment, and endeavor to meet European standards. Following the trilateral meeting in Brussels on April 5, it became evident that the EU is prepared to support Armenia in this regard by providing substantial funding to small and medium-sized enterprises. The EU can also expedite the removal of barriers for Armenia to some extent by granting certain privileges, establishing a special regime, and setting deadlines. This would enable Armenian businessmen, whose products may currently fall short of the high European standards, to rectify the situation and produce goods that meet the required standards within a specified timeframe," said the political scientist.

Referring to the issue of visa liberalization with EU countries, Vardanyan expressed his anticipation for the adoption of a road map with specific dates based on the outcomes of the April 5 meeting. However, he noted that no such development occurred.

It means that there are still unresolved issues. In the European Union, there is the experience of other countries with which a visa liberalization regime operates. However, there are also quite serious complaints within the European Union regarding this matter, as many individuals abuse this regime, causing problems for the European Union. Additionally, resolving this issue requires consensus within the EU, which is a complex and time-consuming process. Nevertheless, I believe that this issue will be resolved in the future. If we consider that the visa liberalization regime entails the removal of visa requirements, then it's worth mentioning that countries like Georgia and others, although not requiring visas, have maintained strict conditions for visits by citizens. If the process is simplified for our citizens—such as the complete removal of visa fees, reduction in required documents, and elimination of long queues and wait times—this would constitute a form of liberalization. Regardless, the liberalization of visas is a necessary condition as it will contribute to strengthening Republic of Armenia-EU ties. In such a scenario, the Armenian society will feel fully integrated into the European territory and the European democratic community," said the political scientist.

Manvel Margaryan


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