The visit to Brussels by the speaker of the Armenian parliament, Hovik Abrahamyan, this week took place against the background of the enforcement of a visa-free regime in Armenia for travelers from European Union member states.
The official registration of candidates in the Armenian presidential election will take another week or so, but it is already clear that the political forces loyal to the first and second presidents will remain aloof from the process. The only question now is what form their non-participation in the elections will take, in particular whether it will eventually turn into a full-scale boycott.
2012 may go down in history as the year of the revision by the Armenian government of its pro- Russian foreign policy and unprecedented rapprochement with Europe. Another major event that predetermined Armenia’s policies was the so-called Safarov Affair, which led to Armenia’s severing diplomatic ties with Hungary and created a new situation in the Karabakh settlement process. Even though the Karabakh conflict and relations with Turkey have not been priorities in the pre-election year of 2012, they still provided a background for other foreign-policy trends amid attempts by Azerbaijan to change the status quo.
The Armenian opposition is doing everything to deny the incumbent president and reelection hopeful a trump card in the upcoming presidential election. Serzh Sargsyan is known to be building his program on the idea of diversification of Armenia’s foreign policy, in particular through promoting European ties.
Armenia is having the most “latent” presidential elections ever as three days before the official start of the nominations it is not yet clear who will form the lineup of the strongest rivals to incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan. Some expert circles view it as a result of indifference and distrust existing in society towards the elections and the political forces’ ignoring public opinion.
Today Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan is meeting his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow on the sidelines of a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Council hosted by the Russian capital.
Armenian experts have no doubt that Moscow will do everything to prevent Armenia from signing an association agreement with the European Union. On December 17, Armenia and the EU signed an agreement on visa facilitation, while an Association Agreement and an agreement on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area are expected to be signed as early as in November 2013. Before that, Putin is sure to be trying to win Armenia over.
An agreement on visa regime facilitation for citizens of Armenia traveling to European Union-member countries is due to be signed in Brussels today, December 17. Armenia has waived the visa requirement for citizens of EU countries who will travel to this South Caucasus republic after January 1. And this is in the case when Europe and Russia are unable to agree on visa facilitation.
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday approved the next tranche of the loan for Armenia amounting to $51.4 million, thus bringing the total amount of credit released to Armenia to $324.4 million. The three-year $408.7 million project for Armenia was approved in 2010.
The statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Washington will openly oppose Russia’s attempts to re-integrate the post-Soviet countries into a new USSR-type union has caused a stir in the expert world.
Clinton made the statement about this attempt to “re-sovietize” the former USSR space last week at a meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Dublin, Ireland.