Armenia and the EU: two perspectives on why it matters

Amid the geopolitical shifts and the regional challenges, the strategic value and importance of the EU to Armenia and vice versa can be unequivocally pointed out now more than ever.

Jun 2, 2024

Two-piece opinion article written by Tigran Ghalumyan and Teun Janssen 

Tigran Ghalumyan is a graduate of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and Analyst at the Center for International Strategic Analysis in Greece as well as an expert on regional security & cooperation in the Southern Caucasus. Teun Janssen is an EU affairs expert and candidate for the European Parliament with Volt Europa. With the fight for a ‘’choice for Europe’’ visibly on display in Georgia, they shed light on the importance for Europe of another aspiring democracy in the Southern Caucasus: the Republic of Armenia. They share their perspective on what is changing in this country, and why it is crucial for Europe. 

This first part is written by Tigran. The second part is written by Teun and can be found here

A New Dawn: Armenia-EU Relations and the Path to Peace in the South Caucasus

In the aftermath of a destructive war and amidst domestic political turmoil in the South Caucasus, a new era starts for a decade of cooperation between Armenia and the European Union (EU). Amid the geopolitical shifts and the regional challenges, the strategic value and importance of the EU to Armenia and vice versa can be unequivocally pointed out now more than ever.

The Soviet past of Armenia, that formed its history, strongly correlates with its ties to Russia. The transformation of Armenian foreign policy over the past years was accompanied by an irresistible move towards detaching oneself from Russia and an unstoppable integration with the EU institutions, the leading player in the European space.

The basis for this shift was laid in Armenia during its “Velvet Revolution” in 2018, where an ambitious and modern government stepped in with democratic values and closer ties to the EU. Armenians' bitterness at Russia for not protecting them, combined with the failure of the Kremlin to comply with obligations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, became one of the main reasons for Armenia to move toward independence and align with the West.

The European Union views Armenia as a strategic partner in the South Caucasus jurisdiction with various chances for commercial contacts, regional balance, and democratisation. In line with its  democratic values, the EU must contribute to Armenia's democratic principles and help it confront the challenging nature of the region.

Armenia is at the midpoint of the movement to democracy following the Velvet Revolution of 2018; but the path ahead remains fragile in the face of regional challenges. On the contrary, the behaviour of Azerbaijan's authoritarian regime contradicts fundamental human rights and democratic principles. The EU cannot remain silent if Azerbaijan threatens Armenia militarily; that would breaches the EU’s principles  by seeking to overcome values with narrow economic interest.  

The EU should open a path to the Armenian people who serve as a bright example of the fight for  democratic progress. Through the backing of the Armenian democratic changeover and the provision of access to EU institutions Armenia can become part of a stronger and democratic Europe. The objective is to be in line with the EU's wider aspirations regarding the promotion of democracy and human rights internationally. At the same time, we should support civil society in Azerbaijan striving for a democratic future and strong human rights. Ultimately, only regional reconciliation can be the solution.

The EU's Role in Armenia's Security Landscape:

Underpinning the changing Armenian-European partnership is the European Union Mission in Armenia (EUMA), brought to ensure the security and stability of, and along, the Armenian-Azerbaijani

border. By proxy of its armed and peaceful approach EUMA assists in the creation of a more confident atmosphere and contributes to the normalcy of the EU-Armenia-Azerbaijan dialogue. While the region is
still tense and Azerbaijan threatens to escalate the situation on the borders, the EU should keep to its commitment to promote dialogue and peace by using all the available tools.

Moscow’s Fears:

Moscow tries to impose its power on the South Caucasus region, using both internal and external means to push Armenia to the corner and limit its independence. By taking advantage of Azerbaijan's military capacity and territorial disputes, Russia strives to strengthen her leading role and obstruct the progress of Armenia in European integration. Armenians believe that Russian steps are unfriendly and contradict its representation of itself as a friendly neighbour. This justifies the necessity of Armenia's association with the EU in building peace and stability in the region.

Recommendations for Strengthening Armenia-EU Partnership:

Moving forward, there are several recommendations to deepen Armenia-EU cooperation and support Armenia's path towards European integration:

  1. Enhanced Diplomatic Engagement: The EU must escalate diplomatic activity in the form of dialogue and production of confidence-building events between Armenia and Azerbaijan, becoming the main facilitator of peace processes.

  1. Increased Support for Armenia's Integration: The EU is encouraged to strengthen cooperation on Armenia’s further integration into European structures to deepen the negotiations that lead to a visa liberalisation deal, reinforce the trade ties and explore channels towards  accession.

  2. Economic Collaboration: To balance off the potential threat from Russia, the EU should develop its economic relations with Armenia. The EU’s trade and investment promotion can lessen Armenia’s reliance on Russian power and, on the contrary, guarantee the stability of the region.

  1. Strengthening Security Cooperation: On that basis, the EU is to further the security partnership with Armenia, with much concentration on such areas as border protection and defence reform, to consolidate the existing resilience to the emerging security perils.


In the face of a new beginning for dialogue between Armenia and the EU, , the prospect of cooperation and interaction is hard to measure in the scale of the South Caucasus future. Through its preventive engagement, as well as its firm commitment to Armenia’s European integration process, and, finally, for the fostering of dialogue on a regional basis, the EU can be a catalyst of transformations towards the establishment of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region. When obstacles are overcome, the horizon of united cooperation is opened to present a new day, and so the future will carry bright Armenia, EU, and the South Caucasus in common.