Lithuania: Armenia-EU free trade deal blocked

Armenia has blocked its chances of signing a free trade deal with the European Union by choosing to join the Russia-led customs union, EU president Lithuania said Tuesday.

The EU respects the decision announced by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in Moscow earlier Tuesday, but the two systems are incompatible, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told AFP.

“We respect any choice of countries but they cannot enter both organisations at the same time because of different tariff requirements,” he said.

After meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Sargsyan said he had decided to join the 2010 Customs Union.

Armenia had been poised to initial an association and free trade agreement with EU at a November summit in Vilnius with six post-Soviet states grouped in the Brussels-oriented Eastern Partnership programme.

In a separate statement on Tuesday, Linkevicius and seven other ministers from Nordic and Baltic countries warned against Russian pressure on post-Soviet states.

“Any economic threat or political pressure directed against Eastern partners because of their European aspirations and engagement with the EU is unacceptable,” they said.

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