YEREVAN/JUNE 10 2021 (The Bulletin) — Armenia’s government agreed to stop marketing its premium brandy products to Europe as cognac from 2032, part of a trade deal that it signed with the EU four years ago.
The announcement that Armenia would finally drop using the cognac brand came 10 days after PM Nikol Pashinyan had been in Paris meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron to lockdown France’s support for Armenia over its ongoing border rows with Azerbaijan.
France, a key ally of Armenia, has been pushing for the cognac title to be used only by brandy produced in its Cognac region. In return for dropping the term cognac, the EU promised to spend 3m euro helping Armenia build up a new brand for its brandy exports to Europe.
The TASS news agency quoted Armenia’s deputy PM Mger Grigoryan as saying that a new brand for Armenian brandy had not yet been decided upon.
“I am not ready to disclose such details so far because major market players have no consensus so far,” He said.
Armenia had appeared to drag its feet over imposing a ban on the cognac branding after signing an Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the EU in 2017 that improves trade relations and enforces European standards.
EU law protects regional names on European food and drink products, although Armenia will still be able to market its brandy as cognac in Cyrillic on bottles sold to Russia, its main export market. The EU struck a similar deal with Moldova in 2014 when it agreed to drop using the cognac term too. Premium Moldovan brandy is now called Divin.
Brandy is an important part of Armenia’s branding and it is famed across the former Soviet Union. Its most famous producer is the Yerevan Brandy Company which markets its products under the Ararat brand and is owned by France’s Pernod Ricard.
— This story was published in issue 48 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on June 16 2021
— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021