EU remains committed to strengthening bilateral cooperation with Armenia

“Despite Armenia’s decision in September 2013 not  to sign the Association Agreement/DCFTA with the EU but rather join the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), the EU remains committed to further engage with Armenia, and to strengthen bilateral cooperation within the Eastern Partnership, in all areas compatible with Armenia’s more recent policy choices,” Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia Traian Hristea at the conference on “EU-Armenia Cooperation: Perspective in the Actual Political Environment”

“Currently, we are reflecting jointly with our Armenian counterparts on the scope for future EU-Armenia relations. Following the Joint Statement issued at EaP Vilnius summit November 2013 both sides have started a joint reflection on how to revisit the legal basis for their relations,” he said.

“On 4 November 2014, the EU and Armenia have launched in Brussels a scoping exercise on the future legal and political framework for EU-Armenia relations, based on information as regards to Armenia’s EEU commitments and their possible implications on future relations with EU. Both sides agreed to “safeguard” the negotiated but not initialled AA/DCFTA and to use it as reference to this aim,” Hristea added.

“As long as good governance, reform of the judiciary, rule of law, human rights do not form part of the official Eurasian integration process, there is plenty of room for the EU to engage Armenia, and for Armenia to demonstrate their commitment to reform. The upcoming human rights sector budget support is in that regard a welcome step – and at the same time a litmus test, for which the more-for-more principle also applies,” the Head of EU Delegation said.

He also attached importance to making best use of the significant EU assistance of 140-170 million EUR for the period of 2014-2017, focusing on private sector development, public administration reform and justice sector reform.

“Moreover, we need to further promote mobility of citizens of Armenia and people-to-people contacts once a steady and satisfactory implementation of the visa facilitation and readmission agreements is confirmed. Negotiating a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement with Armenia is a policy objective outlined in the Eastern Partnership Road Map. Armenia has expressed interest and readiness to negotiate the agreement and the European Commission sent a fact finding mission to assess the possibility of preparing a mandate for negotiations. We will also need to strengthen our cooperation within the EaP’s multilateral dimension in 2015, in particular the four multilateral platforms and the flagship initiatives and contribute together to the success of the 4th EaP Summit in Riga. And last but not least to continue the EaP-related dialogue during the Euronest meeting in Yerevan at the parliamentary level,” Hristea stated.

The envoy said “the EU is seriously concerned over the security situation in the region, especially after the unprecedented increase of tension and recent events at the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh.” “The protracted Nagorno-Karabakh conflict does not have a military solution and the status quo is unsustainable. Although we are not part of the OSCE Minsk group negotiation mechanism, the EU further supports efforts towards peace through the EUSR and peacebuilding activities.”

“The EU also continues to supports the normalisation of Armenian-Turkish relations and encourages both sides to remain committed to the process of normalisation without preconditions, despite the withdrawal of protocols signed back in 2009 from parliaments of both countries. This year’s commemoration of atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire also is considered by us a test-case for Armenia-Turkey relations,” he stated.

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