Mr. Thomas Mayr-Harting, Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia of the European External Action Service (EEAS) visited Armenia on 17-18 October 2018.
In the course of his visit, Mr. Mayr-Harting, accompanied by H.E. Dr. Piotr Antoni Świtalski, Ambassador, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia and Mr. Vassilis Maragos, Head of Unit responsible for Armenia at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, met with Acting Prime Minister Mr. Nikol Pashinyan, His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II, Acting Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Mher Grigoryan, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Acting Minister of Defense Mr. Davit Tonoyan, and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Ms. Arpine Hovhannisyan.
The Managing Director also met with representatives of political parties and civil society, and delivered a public lecture in front of a broad student audience at the Yerevan State University.
The senior EU official emphasized the EU’s support to sustainable democracy. “This is an important time for Armenia – it is now essential to secure the gains of the democratic changes the country has experienced” – he said. He stressed the EU appreciated the achievements of peaceful transition, particularly the commitment to eliminating corruption and making Armenia a modern society based on the rule of law, with a truly independent judiciary.
“We are at the beginning of a new era in EU-Armenia relations. Our new Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement – CEPA – opens up a broad spectrum of opportunities for deeper engagement in various spheres, starting with democratic institution-building to social affairs, trade, health, cooperation in the areas of tourism, science and technology, cultural cooperation and others. All of this can be taken to a higher level depending on the will of both sides”, said Mr. Mayr-Harting. He expressed hope for a speedy development of a CEPA Implementation Roadmap containing measures to improve the business environment and attract investment, ultimately bringing tangible benefits to Armenian citizens. He added that Armenia’s obligations under CEPA were fully compatible with those of Armenia being a member of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Thomas Mayr-Harting reconfirmed the EU’s support for the Government’s ambitious reform agenda focusing on enhanced transparency and accountability, and looked forward to free and fair parliamentary elections in December. “The EU and several of its Member States will provide financial support for the conduct of the elections. We hope to see broad participation by the youth and women”.
“The EU is the largest donor in Armenia. We have an active portfolio of around 250 million EUR of grant support. Our investment portfolio is close to one billion EUR. We are currently reviewing our existing and planned cooperation package together with the Government to match Armenia’s reform priorities and commitments in a more targeted manner that benefits Armenian citizens. We are already preparing a CEPA Reform Agenda Facility including Twinning, and a banking facility to help private sector investments to adjust to the requirements of CEPA.” said Mayr-Harting.
The EEAS Managing Director also praised Armenia’s commitment to regional cooperation in the framework of Eastern Partnership and the joint work towards achieving the “20 Deliverables for 2020”.
The senior EU diplomat also touched upon the Nagorno Karabakh conflict welcoming the momentum after the Dushanbe meeting between the Armenian Prime Minister and Azerbaijani President on 28th September. He hoped this would open the way for engagement in substantive negotiations without preconditions as soon as possible.