Georgia’s EU association and prospects for Armenia – opinions

The signing of an EU Association Agreement by Georgia will, to a certain degree, affect also that country’s relations with Armenia, as both states will be in different customs zones after Armenia’s accession to the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, says Alik Eroyants, an expert in Georgian affairs.

According to him, the differences in the customs regulations are also expected to give way to a conflict of interests.

“With regard to the Armenia-Georgia cooperation per se, predicting serious negative changes is difficult; it is better to avoid such concerns, because the high-level relations between the two countries have the necessary potential to relieve and weaken future possible problems and obstacles with the help of negotiations,” he told Tert.am.

Noting that the free trade agreement between the two countries is in effect, the expert said he thinks that the mutual willingness to overcome and reduce the existing problems is the most important thing for the sides to continue the collaboration in that format.
He described the association deal as a major success for Georgia on the way of overcoming most different problems. “But that’s for future,” he said, “as the signing of the agreement may create lots of problems for Georgia until they finally get adapted to [the new political situation]. So Georgia has a long way to pass in the frameworks of the Association Agreement,” he added.

Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova signed EU Association Agreements on Friday in a move that’s thought to be strongly opposed by Russia.

Vazgen Safaryan, the president of the Domestic Commodity Producers’ Union, said he thinks the deal will be limited only to a political association. “To the best of my knowledge, the Russian market will be close for Ukrainian products. And that means that the Ukrainian goods, which have freely paved their way to Russia thanks to the free trade agreement, can no longer be there. So the problem is political for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. They will not be able to realize their goods in Europe,” he noted.
As for the future of the Armenian-Georgian economic partnership, Safaryan said he doesn’t expect the two countries’ presence in different economic areas to be a cause of conflicts. He stressed the need of adopting more flexible policies that would help the sides initiate joint ventures. “The two countries have to pursue flexible policies to export the Georgian agricultural produce to the Russian market through us and enable us to use the Georgian routes,” he explained.

Safaryan did not rule out the possibility of Armenian investments in the Georgian market. “But I do not see any prospects of realizing ready-made products, especially agricultural produce, in the European market in the short run,” he added.

Advertisements

Quake in Azerbaijan; jolts felt in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia’s north

A magnitude five earthquake, which struck Azerbaijan at 9:56 pm local time (GMT 17:26), was also felt in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Armenia’s northern regions/
The jolts measured 7 points in the epicenter, which lies 15 km south-west off the town of Zakatala, reports Armenia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations.
The hypocenter depth is reported to be 10km.

Border tensions not something new in Tavush, says regional governor

In an interview with Tert.am, the governor of Tavush, Hovik Abovyan, admitted that border tensions provoked by intensive Azerbaijani gun attacks are periodically repeated in the eastern region.

 

Mr Abovyan, what will you say about the recentshoot-out? Has the population in the border villages always been accustomed to that?
Tensions exist and have always existed; it isn’t the first day.
What solutions do you see?
I do not see any solution at the moment.
So will this situation persist as long as the frozen [Armenian-Azerbaijani] conflict [over Nagorno-Karabakh] continues?
Sure. And the shootings have never gone unanswered. We always take adequate measures to silence them. So they are retaliated against, not we. As for the damages, they [the population in the border regions] is provided with assistance. Together with the deputy prime minister we had a meeting with the people in a kindergarten in Aygepar, Berd region, a couple of days ago, to discuss security measures. So those measures are now under way.
The Russian ambassador to Armenia said that they hadn’t heard any shooting at all. Styopa Safaryan [the Heritage party’s political secretary] later proposed that the Armenian side take [Ambassador Ivan] Volynkin to the border zone so that he could hear [firing].
I don’t know who said what, but if there is anyone who hears nothing, I can accompany [that person to the border] muyself to make him not only hear but also see that.
Mr Abovyan, Andrzej Kasprzyk [the personal representative of the OSCE chairperson-in-office] was recently in the region …
Kasprzyk was at the regional administration for a working meeting. So he was present, and our servicemen briefed him on the situation, elaborating on the gunfires and even their number. We visited the border, and he saw and heard everything himself. So who says that nothing of the kind has ever happened?


And what did Kasprzyk say?

What could he have said? He was to meet with Azerbaijanis, as he always does.
What solutions did he point out to?
Only facts. He was to cross over to the other side [of the border] to do the same there.
And what about the annual volumes of the aid delivered to survivors? Is there any statistics?
We are now estimating the damages; I have issued instructions and will have a meeting in a couple of days to see what problems we have. So we will use all our potentials.
Well, that’s the situation for now, but what about the shoot-outs? They have always continued.
I am sorry to say that, but I haven’t always been [a regional governor]. It is just a month I have been in office.
We know that the National Security Council will address the border regions of Tavish at its upcoming session. Are you going to attend [the meeting]?
I am not a member of the Security Council, but I will be present there if I am invited to.

People with special needs feel more comfortable in Yerevan, employment problem remains

Armenia’s capital is gradually adjusted to meet the needs of people with disabilities, Armen Alaverdyan, Executive Director of the Unison NGO told reporters on Monday.

On the other hand, only 9% of people with disabilities are employed.

“We can see positive changes in Yerevan. In cooperation with NGOs and with the private sector, the Yerevan Municipality has taken measures. When we see faults, we point to them and the problems are resolved immediately. Private companies are adjusting entrances to people with disabilities as well,” he said.

With respect to employment, Mr Alaverdyan pointed out some progress.

“We are seeking to challenge the stereotype that employing a person with disabilities is a burden. They often work better than others.”

Chairman of the Pyunik union Hakob Abrahamyan said that the necessary changes need to be made in Armenia’s other cities and regions.

“Although, in general, the city now meets the needs of people with disabilities, hotels do not. Rooms for people with disabilities can hardly be found in hotels. I think it must be each hotel’s legal duty to have some rooms for people with special needs.” Mr Abrahamyan said.

Turkey not likely to change its attitude to Armenia – expert

 

Turkey is not likely to adopt new policies in relation to Armenia despite the expected change in the country’s presidential power, according to an Armenian expert.
At a news conference on Monday, Turkologist Ruben Melkonyan said he doesn’t think it right to link policy changes to specific individuals’ names. According to him, Turkey will not change its attitude to Armenia even if a person as powerful as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon becomes its president.
Melkonyan noted that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to be the winner in the upcoming presidential election in August.
Commenting on FM Ahmet Davutoglu’s recent call for bold steps by Armenia in the bilateral ties’ normalization process, Melkonyan he finds the Turkish official an unsuccessful theorist whose theses (including the one proposing ‘zero problems with neighbors’) normally experience a failure. “The proposal remains on the non-constructive platform. Davutoglu is suffering the crisis of a theorist and a politician,” he noted.
Melkonyan said he hopes the international community will react to Davutoglu’s theory with an adequate degree of reservation. “The goal is multi-vectoral. The first word Turkey uses to address its interlocutor is Armenia and the Diaspora. But the world community and the superpowers cannot be ignored in this context, so the messages are directed to them as well,” he added.

National human rights protection strategy launched

 

The national human rights protection strategy, which was worked out pursuant to President Serzh Sargsyan’s instruction in 2012, has played a key role in human rights protection in Armenia, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan stated at the UN office in Armenia.

“It can be considered an important means of implementing a human rights protection policy, which is supposed to ensure Armenia honoring its commitments under the Constitutional and international agreements,” the premier said.

Armenia’s ambassador to Georgia critical of newspaper over alleged interview

 

Armenia’s Ambassador to Georgia Yuri Vardanyan has commented on an interview he allegedly gave to the Hraparak newspaper.

“I consider this invented interview a low standard of journalism, and I did not expect even the Hraparak newspaper to do so. I regret the persons that ordered the ‘interview’ have gone too far. I am going to instruct lawyers to go to law and find out who and why gave that ‘interview’,” Vardanyan said.

He expects the newspaper to apologize.