EU, Armenia Aim to Advance Relations in Yerevan

EU President Jose Manuel Barroso and President Sarkisian in Yerevan

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—The European Union and Armenia are building a strong relationship based on political association, economic integration and deeper people-to-people contacts, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said following his meeting in Yerevan with President Serzh Sarkisian.

“Democratic institutions, independence of the judiciary, political pluralism, media freedom and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms are the lifeblood of our partnership,” Barroso stressed, adding this had been his key message in the meetings with Armenia’s political leaders, parliamentarians and civil society.

The European Commission President hailed progress in the negotiations on the Association Agreement (including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area), due to be concluded in time of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November 2013.

Barroso also cited headway in the Mobility dialogue, with the expected signature of the Visa Facilitation Agreement on 17 December, followed, at a later date, by the signature of the Readmission Agreement.

He also commended Armenia for the good conduct of the Parliamentary elections in May 2012, saying he was reassured by the President’s personal commitment to address the shortcomings raised by the OSCE/ODIHR mission.

The EU fully recognizes Armenia’s commitment to reforms and the efforts being made, said Barroso, adding the EU was determined to support Armenia, in particular by stepping up its assistance to the country this year with an additional €15 million for an existing project on the reform of the Judiciary and for an on-going operation on Vocational and Education Training.

President Barroso stressed the EU’s commitment to peace and regional stability, in particular through efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the framework of the Minsk Group, and reiterated the EU’s readiness “to provide enhanced support for confidence building measures if the parties so wish.”

In Yerevan, President Barroso said the EU attached great importance to Armenia as a country and to the Eastern neighborhood as a whole. He told an audience at the National Manuscript Museum in Yerevan that the EU and Armenia were discussing the possibility of replacing the ENP Action Plan with an ‘Association Agenda’ – “a more focused tool which will prepare the road for the implementation of our new Agreement.”

In his speech, President Barroso focused on the role of civil society in the reform process. He said the EU had developed a new instrument – the Neighborhood Civil Society Facility – “to provide additional grant support and encourage concrete actions from civil society.” He also voiced hope that the EU’s support to NGOs will continue through the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights and through thematic programmes for non-state actors, as well as other EU instruments.

“But beyond the instruments what is important to note here is the political will – the political commitment to work together with your country. We believe that Armenia is a European country, that you belong to the European family of nations and that we have everything to gain from working even closer,” Barroso said.

“The Armenian people have always been steady in their aspiration to have a government system anchored on European values – freedom, democracy and rule of law. We view the cooperation with European structures as an important factor for Armenia’s institutional reinforcement and implementation of effective reforms,” Sarkisian told reporters after meeting with Barroso.

He reiterated Armenia’s resolve to deepen and develop the Armenia-EU cooperation. “We aim to complete the negotiations on the Association Agreement, including the creation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, before the summit in Vilnius scheduled for November 2013 and thus raise our relations to a new level.”

“During the meeting I expressed our conviction that it’s necessary to deepen the cooperation within the framework of the Eastern Partnership format. Closed borders,  threats of use of force, xenophobia and racism have no place in the 21st century. All our statements and actions become imperfect, if against their background one of the partner countries calls the people of another partner country an enemy. This is a classical and disgusting example of hatred,” explained Sarkisian.

“We cannot pretend that it’s normal that Turkey, which is a member of the G20 and bids for EU membership, illegally keeps the border of its Eastern partner Armenia closed. This does not only contradict the simple logic of partnership, but also violates the basic principles and norms of international law. In Europe borders should not be used as dividing lines,” said Sarkisian.

“Armenia has declared on many occasions that Nagorno Karabakh is part of the European family, the bearer of the same values. Therefore, we attach importance to the immediate contacts of EU representatives with Nagorno Karabakh, particularly their periodic visits,” he said.

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10 Comments

  1. Ari said:

    If corruption was not a major factor in Armenia, the country would have been accepted as a European Nation long time ago. It’s a pity that Armenian politicians care more for the lining their pockets and billionaires than they do about the faith of the Armenians, the economy and getting back the stolen lands from the Turks. They need to learn from the Singapore’s lessons in stamping out corruption which has a direct relationship in encouraging capital investments from abroad. Armenia has the most important resource for success, i.e. an educated population. If Armenia follows the Singaporean model, She will be even more successful.

  2. Garen Mailyan said:

    Great policy. Keep it up, Serjik. Add also NATO membership on top of it, and you will be done.

  3. GB said:

    Geopolitical position of Armenia will improve much better if Armenia, and Georgia join with EU, Armenia has a long historical ties with European Civilization and Family. Most European countries are fully aware of Armenian History!!

  4. Avetis said:

    Western reptiles are sweet talking Armenians because they do not want Yerevan joining Putin’s Eurasian Union. Armenia’s rightful/natural place is in the Eurasian Union.

  5. Art said:

    Less reliance on Russia and stamping out pervasive governmental corruption are the only two outlets for a stronger Armenia.

  6. Armanen said:

    The EU is falling apart, why would Armenia gaining by joining? And those calling for Armenian membership in nato, you are aware turkey is a member? The genocidal neighbor which denies its crimes? forget nato and the eu. the Eurasian Union is where Armenia’s future lies.

  7. Aram said:

    It is all about oil pipelines and not about anything else. The EU wants Armenia to make peace with the Azeris so that oil pipelines can be built from Baku through Armenia to the EU. They could care less about the Armenians. The Germans and Dutch do seem to have some sympathy because the Turks are destroying their country and they have seen the true face of the Turks. The British are the most anti-Armenian in Europe because of their very pro-Azeri policies because they built the baku oil pipeline.

  8. Avetis said:

    I realize that it’s a little difficult for our idiots to realize this… but hasn’t a NATO member been blockading Armenia for almost twenty years? Didn’t this NATO member also threaten to invade Armenia in the 1990s? Isn’t this NATO member accused of genocide against several peoples? Hasn’t NATO joined Islamists and Turks to break up Libya, Syria, Serbia and Cyprus? Isn’t NATO seeking to do the same in Iran and Russia?

    Reading some of the utter nonsense posted on this page, I see Washington’s cyber warriors are out again.

  9. Artin said:

    This will all take time. I am SURE our nation will weed out the lazy and greedy idiots. The younger generation is quite moral, quite strong and quite keen on the geopolitical situations that concern them and Armenia. I know a lot of people dont like Dodi Gago but personally I like him A LOT better (as well as his party) than our current president of Armenia and his “republican” party!

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