EU-Armenia relations saw progress on several agreements in 2014, while Armenia continued its democratic transition, though some issues of human rights and rule of law remain to be dealt with, according to the 2014 ENP Country Progress Report released on March 25.
The report on Armenia underlines key main developments and reform efforts in 2014 and makes recommendations for the year to come.
The EU and Armenia have reconfirmed their commitment to further develop and strengthen their cooperation in areas of mutual interest within the Eastern Partnership framework. The EU and Armenia have recently successfully completed their joint scoping exercise for a future legal agreement compatible with Armenia’s new international obligations after the country became a member of the Eurasian Economic Union. This will enable both sides to launch soon negotiations on a new EU-Armenia overarching agreement once the respective negotiating mandates have been approved.
In 2014 Armenia advanced on several bilateral agreements: The EU-Armenia Visa-Facilitation and Readmission Agreements entered into force in January 2014 and since March 2014, Armenia can participate in EU programs and agencies.
Armenia continued its democratic transition process, in particular with regard to constitutional reform. Certain human rights issues, fundamental freedoms and rule of law issues remained to be dealt with. Armenia developed legislation in several areas that is in line with EU rules and standards or international requirements. Such legislation often remained to be adopted and implemented. Related reforms were developed but not put in practice. The lack of trust in the judicial system persisted. The fight against corruption remained a key issue. Progress was noted with regard to the right of free legal aid.
Armenia continued to implement sound macroeconomic policies, such as with regard to poverty reduction and social cohesion. Economic activity continued to decelerate in 2014. Reforms in the tax administration continued. More efforts to diversify the economy are recommendable.
The European Commission received Armenia’s stress test on the Medzamor nuclear power plant. The test will be reviewed in 2015. This procedure is in line with EU nuclear safety requirements.
2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the 1994 ceasefire agreement in relation to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict against the background of a continued stalemate. The security situation on the ground remained a matter of serious concern amid unprecedented incidents and casualties since 1994, as well as rise in confrontational rhetoric and a continued arms race.
On the basis of the Country Progress Report, several actions are recommended to Armenia for the year to come, amongst others:
- initiating the amendment of the electoral legislation in accordance with OSCE/ODIHR recommendations in due time before the parliamentary elections in 2017;
- adopting and implementing comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation;
- investigating the cases of attacks and intimidation of human rights defenders and ensuring effective law enforcement, including in cases relating to the deaths that occurred during the clashes of March 2008 and the allegations of ill-treatment in police custody and violation of due process;
- Intensifying the reform of the judiciary and law enforcement and implementing the related reform agenda; continuing public administration reform, intensifying the prevention of and the fight against corruption;
- stepping up efforts towards a comprehensive peace settlement in accordance with the commitments undertaken within the Minsk Group; refraining from actions and statements that could heighten tension and undermine the peace process;
- progressing in regulatory approximation with international trade-related laws and standards in order to achieve the objective of diversifying Armenian exports with commodities of higher value added;