EU must continue negotiations with Armenia
In September, Armenia’s President Sargsyan decided to sign initial agreements with the Russian-led Customs Union on the eve of when he was expected to sign documents on an Association Agreement and a Deep and Comprehensive Trade Agreement with the EU.
– There are several human rights aspects with this decision and the following events in Armenia that the EU should take into consideration rather than writing Armenia off completely, says Lene Wetteland, Armenia advisor with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, in a memo to the EU in connection with the EU-Armenia Human Rights Dialogue on 17 December.
Following Sargsyan’s last moment decision, there have been demonstrations in Yerevan and in Armenia’s second largest city Gyumri, most notably on the occasion of Vladimir Putin’s visit to the country. The security forces demonstrated a use of violence, arrest and restrictions that Armenians have not witnessed since the infamous 1 March 2008-events, including mass arrest of more than 100 people. Looking back at these events and the equally disputed 2008 and 2013 Presidential Elections, civil society activists underline that Sargsyan cannot represent Armenia in such matters as he was not elected in free and fair elections, and his recent tightening further enhance this growing discontent.
Though the Armenians have not taken to the streets with the same numbers and intensity as the Ukrainians in their similar situation, they are quite substantial taking into consideration the small population and democratic tradition of Armenia, and should be allowed to take place without obstacles. – The EU must not turn its back on the Armenian population and their rights at this crucial moment and include civil society to a greater extent in the process, concludes Wetteland.