September 6, 2013 - 14:59 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Delegation of the European Union to Armenia has refuted reports about suspension of Twinning program in the country.
"The claims about any suspension are not true. In the light of the recent decision of Armenia we will, naturally, need to review those programs which are directly linked to the signature of the AA/DCFTA and together with the Armenian authorities consider what to do. But as we said before, at this stage we continue our assessment of the new situation and are informing our member states and consulting with them; we also pursue ongoing consultations with our Armenian partners," says a statement issued by the press office of the EU Delegation.
Earlier, some media outlets spread reports that the EU decided to suspend the Twinning program in response of Armenia’s willingness to join the Russia-led Customs Union.
Twinning is a European Commission initiative that was originally designed to help candidate countries acquire the necessary skills and experience to adopt, implement and enforce EU legislation. Since 2003, twinning has been available to some of the Newly Independent States of eastern Europe and to countries of the Mediterranean region.
Twinning projects bring together public sector expertise from EU Member States and beneficiary countries with the aim of enhancing co-operative activities. They must yield concrete operational results for the beneficiary country under the terms of the Association Agreement between that country and the EU.
Armenia completed technical talks on a ‘deep and comprehensive free-trade agreement' (DCFTA) with the EU in July and it was set to be signed at a summit with the EU in late November.
In addition to a free-trade deal, Armenia has been working towards the signing of an Association Agreement with the EU, a framework agreement on cooperation that is seen as a first step towards political integration with the EU.
Nevertheless, during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Armenian leader Serzh Sargsyan said Armenia is ready to join Customs Union, with further plans to be involved in formation of Eurasian Economic Union, thus arousing indignation of European officials.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt described Armenia’s intention as a U-turn in relations with the European Union. “Seems as if Armenia will break talks on free trade agreement with EU and integrate with Russia instead,” he said on his Twitter account.
Linas Linkevicius, the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said Armenia “has blocked its chances of signing a free trade deal with the European Union by choosing to join the Russia-led union.”
“We respect any choice of countries but they cannot enter both organizations at the same time because of different tariff requirements,” he said.
However, later the European Commission issued a statement saying that “the Association Agreement (including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area) with Armenia can be compatible with economic cooperation with the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.”
“In July this year, after three and a half years, we finalized the negotiations of the Association Agreement (including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area) with Armenia. This agreement would allow Armenia with the EU´s support, to drive forward a program of comprehensive modernization and reform based upon shared values, political association and economic integration. We take note of Armenia's apparent wish to join the Customs Union. We look forward to understanding better from Armenia what their intentions are and how they wish to ensure compatibility between these and the commitments undertaken through the Association Agreement and DCFTA. Once this consultation has been completed, we will draw our conclusions on the way forward. We want to underline once again that AA/DCFTA is a blueprint for reforms beneficial for all and not a zero-sum game and could be compatible with economic cooperation with the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States,” the statement said.