Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Moving closer to Europe: The Eastern Partnership

I am pretty much pro-European in my views of Armenia’s direction. Therefore, I welcome any step which brings Armenia closer to the EU. There is no promise of EU membership with this new initiative of Eastern Partnership which was formally announced today. However, there is hint at it. The way to Europe is closer now, but still long way to go.

We like criticising other EU candidate countries, in particular Turkey (I would add here EU members Poland, Bulgaria…), that they are not ready to be considered as such, there are lots of problems in terms of democracy and human rights in those countries. We now have to look at ourselves and honestly ask: Are we ready? The obvious answer is no. We are not even close. However, the prospect of closer ties or even eventual membership could hopefully stimulate reforms in our country like it did in other countries. EU must offer more than a hint at the membership prospects to make incentives for changes more desirable. On the other hand, it has to be very strict in assessing and pushing countries’ compliance with the standards. These are hopes, but we know very well that the reality is different, and depending on the situation the wind may blow to any direction.

One thing I know for sure. I can’t wait to see THE day when Armenian citizens will travel EU countries visa-free.

*The EU will formally launch this initiative in spring 2009 at a special “Eastern Partnership Summit”.

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