“Had the Armenian authorities made a better effort in the cahnging world we may have met the spring 2020 along with the ratified (ed.: EU-RA) agreement.” This is a quote from an article in the April 15 issue of “Hraparak” daily headlined “We will integrate better with Europe after the virus.” The excerpt is from an opinion expressed by Robert Harutyunyan, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Whilst he denies the fact that we have issues with Europe, the author of the article has no problem claiming in the preface that our relations with Europe are not good. Moreover, according to the newspaper, “many Armenian nationals are concerned about this indefinite situation, which will take us even further into the zone of the Russian influence and cut us even more from Europe.” This fact of subjective commentary is revealed in the framework of the monitoring conducted by the Committee to Protect Freedom of Speech to identify the publications damaging the European values.
Have the processes prescribed by the EU-Armenia agreement deviated from their prearranged course? We posed this question to Armen Zakaryan, Director of the Yerevan School of Political Studies. “I would like to state right from the outset that I do not agree with the substance of the question. First, as a structure the EU continues rendering assistance worth millions of Euros to Armenia, for which we are very grateful. Apart from this, as of today Germany is the biggest economy within Europe that has expressed an intention to assist Armenia in the amount of 90 million Euro with a view to fighting the consequences of coronavirus. It is not excluded that there will be allocations from France and other countries too. Therefore, even if at this stage and at this point something is not in its proper place, this is the result of the realia generated by the coronavirus rather than politicis or geopolitics. I personally do not see any strategic or tactical disruptions in the relations between Yerevan and Brussels, Paris or Berlin”
In the same vein, “Hraparak’s” interlocutor in the above article notes in relation to the assistance provided to Armenia by Europe that “this is yet another proof that Europe takes responsibility not only for its internal problems but also for its partners and anything taking place in the world in general… What is important is that in this difficult period people are saying that they will provide part of what they have to others.” But even this statement does not prevent the author of the article from expressing the strage thought attributed to the majority of Armenians in relation to Russia that “many Armenian nationals are concerned about this indefinite situation, which will take us even further into the zone of the Russian influence and cut us even more from Europe.”
Are there any grounds for such concerns? According to Armen Zakaryan, “In the course of these years and in the light of the geopolitical and regional existential realia, Armenia has been able to maintain a balance with all the major power centers in the relations that have been vital to it, although not always at the desired level.” At any rate, according to our interlocutor, even now it can be observed that the post-quarantine period of overcoming the coronavirus at least in the short run is going to be collaborative in order to succeed in effectively overcoming this challenge. “Under these circumstances I do not imagine that Armenia has a priority in deepening its external political orientation in favour of this or the other side. Therefore, of priority to us is cooperation with all our friends to make sure that Armenia has the least losses, if possible, no losses at all in the way out of this pandemic nightmare,” Armen Zakaryan summarises his observations.