YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—The action plan for beginning the visa liberalization with Armenia will be on the agenda of the next Eastern Partnership summit in 2017, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Switalski said at the “Civil Society Perspectives on EU-Armenia Relations” conference in Yerevan.
“There is an increasing interest in Armenia concerning the future of relations with the European Union, and we are now going into a very busy period in our relations. The negotiations on a framework agreement are underway. We will soon start discussing the partnership priorities between Armenia and EU within the framework of the Neighborhood Policy,” the Ambassador said, addressing the conference.
Outlining the EU priorities in Armenia, the Ambassador said they want to contribute to the economic stability of the country and enhance good governance, while the third priority is connectivity.
“We want Armenia to be better connected to Europe in terms of infrastructure, roads, electricity connections, but also in terms of people-to-people contact, cultural exchanges, intellectual connectivity,” he added.
“Another priority is the security cooperation. The EU wants to help its neighbors to deal with security challenges. Of course in Armenia, the security component has a very concrete connotation, because the country faces very material military threats. But from the European perspective, we speak about a very broad range of security issues –ranging from cyber security to terrorism,” Switalski noted. “Another priority is the outreach to civil society and issues relating to human rights.”
Speaking about the reasons why the European Union has been trying to develop a political agenda and build bridges with Armenia, Switalski said “We want to show that it is possible to be a loyal member of another integration project and live with European standards and have good relations with the European Union, that there is no contradiction between membership in another integration project and European values.”
The Ambassador said they now have a common understanding with Armenia on issues such as the fight against corruption, economic governance, etc., and the conclusion of the framework agreement will open a new chapter in the relations.
“It is the Armenian party determining the ambition in our relations. On countries like Armenia, we are not trying to pursue anything, to impose an egoistic agenda on the part of the European Union,” Switalski stressed.
The Ambassador said in the Eastern Partnership there are two groups of countries – association countries and non-association countries. The first group includes Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, while Armenia is put together with Azerbaijan and Belarus. He added however, that the offer presented by the European Union is still non-discrimination. “Even without the association agreement, the countries can enjoy a lot from the European Union,” he said.