No Euromaidan for Armenia: Analysts draw parallels between Kiev and Yerevan over reactions to EU accord failures

No Euromaidan for Armenia: Analysts draw parallels between Kiev and Yerevan over reactions to EU accord failures

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The mass protests in support of Ukraine’s European integration that have been held in capital Kiev for several days now have generated interest also in Armenia, which, too, discontinued the process of its EU Association in September but saw only several hundred people taking to the street to voice their discontent.

More than a hundred thousand Ukrainians reportedly staged protests in their capital’s main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, over the weekend soon after the country’s government announced its suspension of the process of signing an Association Agreement with Brussels less than a week before the start of the November 28-29 EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The mass demonstrations may have already had a sobering effect on the Ukrainian leadership as Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Ukraine could sign the EU accord already next year. And President Viktor Yanukovych addressed a message to the nation on Monday, reaffirming the “European path” for Ukraine.

During a teleconference with Yerevan on Monday the Euro-Atlantic Cooperation Institute’s political analyst Vladimir Horbach told journalists that the Sunday demonstration was comparable to the 2004 protests that led to what was later called the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. (Hence, the current protests have quickly been dubbed Euromaidan.)

“This is a sign that the process has not been completed yet, there will be no U-turn, the Ukrainian leadership must reckon with the public opinion,” said the analyst.

Head of the Globalization and Regional Cooperation Analytical Center Stepan Grigoryan said that everyone, and first of all the Europeans, will pay attention to the demonstrations in Ukraine, and these demonstrations are an indication that Ukraine’s aspiration for European integration is not artificial.

“The top priority for Russia is to stop the Association Agreement signing process involving Ukraine. By using pressure on Ukraine, Georgia, partly on Armenia, Russia has shifted the issue onto the global arena, for which the EU was not ready,” says the analyst.

On September 3, in Moscow, after talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan announced Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union, which effectively blocked the way for an Association Agreement with the European Union. That decision also elicited mixed reactions in Armenia and some people staged street protests, but those were not anywhere near what is taking place in Ukraine today.

Following the protests in Ukraine, online social networks in Armenia are actively discussing these days why Armenians so easily gave up on the EU accord and did not put up a fight.

Drawing parallels between the protests staged in Armenia and Ukraine, analyst Horbach said that they could not be on the same scale as Ukraine has a population of 45 million people, while Armenia has a population below 3 million.

According to Horbach, when Armenia decided to join the Russia-led Customs Union, the West understood that challenge, but did not provide a very rapid response, as there still remained Moldova, Georgia, and most importantly, Ukraine, which were still to initial or sign the Association Agreement.