EU Official Sees Progress in Relations With Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–An agreement on partnership and cooperation between the European Union and Armenia effective since last July is being implemented successfully as joint structures come into existence–the EU’s outgoing representative in Yerevan said on Tuesday.

Denis Corboy told a news conference that the Armenia-EU "cooperation council" will meet for the first time in Brussels on October 12–with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian representing the Armenian government. The EU is also bound by similar agreemen’s with Azerbaijan and Georgia.

The presidents of the three South Caucasus states last June attended an official ceremony in Luxembourg marking their entrance into force. Officials in Yerevan have said the document signals the start of a "political dialogue" between Armenia and the most powerful economic grouping in the world.

The EU’s assistance to Armenia’since 1991 has totaled about $300 million–mostly in humanitarian aid and development projects. The EU has also funded a large part of the safety measures at the Medzamor nuclear plant in the last three years. The aid is conditional on the plant’s shutdown in 2004 promised by Yerevan. According to an agreement signed with the Armenian government earlier this week–the EU will allocate an additional $70 million for Medzamor in the next five years. But Corboy said the plant will not be closed until Armenia is able to make up for the 35 percent of power generated on its territory.

Armenian officials have said membership in the EU is an ultimate aim of their foreign policy–while admitting that it can only be achieved in the distant future. Corboy said European nations will begin considering the issue after the union’s enlargement to Eastern Europe is complete.

"Clearly–the Black Sea will then become as much a home sea for the EU as the Mediterranean is now," Corboy said.

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