On 16 May 2018, the EU and Armenia held the 9th round of their regular Human Rights Dialogue in Yerevan. This was the first EU-Armenia regular meeting following the election of the new Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia.
The EU and Armenia reiterated their commitment to the common values of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. These values underpin the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement signed on 24 November 2017 and unanimously ratified by the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia on 11 April. The EU confirmed its readiness to work together with the new Armenian Government and to offer its support in these crucial areas.
The EU and Armenia discussed, inter alia, electoral reform, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression and gender equality, as well as labour rights. On electoral reform, the EU recommended amending the legislation bringing it in line with international recommendations and commitments undertaken by the Republic of Armenia prior to the early elections.
It was stressed by both sides that freedom of assembly is a universal and fundamental right of all. The EU welcomed the peaceful nature of recent protests and the general restraint shown by all sides, and inquired about the status of those who had been detained. The Dialogue highlighted the importance of a free and pluralistic media environment and political pluralism as a prerequisite for the conduct of democratic elections.
Armenia reconfirmed its commitment to the adoption of a comprehensive anti-discrimination law in line with international standards and to establishing a national equality body under the Human Rights Defender’s office. The Armenian Government will hold interactive public hearings with civil society organisations to ensure effective implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan. In the area of labour rights, Armenia indicated that it planned to reform the system of labour inspection to comply with international standards, including with regard to working time, wages and workers’ rights.
The dialogue allowed for an open, constructive exchange on the human rights situation in Armenia. In line with its policy, the EU had prior to the dialogue met and consulted representatives of Armenian and international civil society. The meeting resulted in operational conclusions with concrete actions that will be monitored and followed up over the next year.
The EU reconfirmed its readiness to provide financial and technical support to Armenia, necessary for continuing the reforms aimed at further strengthening democratic institutions and human rights.
The Armenian delegation was headed by Mr. Garen Nazarian, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, while the EU delegation was led by Mr. Dirk Schuebel, Head of Division for bilateral relations with Eastern Partnership countries at the European External Action Service.