EU Pledges Continued Cooperation With Armenia

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The EU’s Chief Foreign Affairs Commissioner Monday pledged further cooperation with Armenia as it works to implement its EU Neighborhood Policy Action Program.
The statement of support came in the form of a letter to Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian from the EU’s External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The letter, which conveyed the EU’s permanent commitment to dialogue and cooperation between Armenia, was hand delivered to Nalbandian by the head of the European Commission’s Delegation to Armenia Paul de Lutzenberger.
"Our cooperation, the implementation of [Armenia’s] New Neighborhood Action plan and our permanent dialogue over foreign policy issues means that we have a full agenda, and I hope to cooperate with you during the coming years," Ferrero-Waldner’s letter said. "[Armenia] will have an important role in the implementation of the EU New Neighborhood action program."
The letter also said that the EU envisages a greater cooperative role for Armenia with other EU establishmen’s and international partners.
Lutzenberger and Nalbandian met in Yerevan Monday to discuss the pace of Armenia’s implementation of its Neighborhood Policy Action Plan. The two also discussed regional issues as well as the prospects of developing a EU-Armenia cooperation program.
In other news, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan met Monday with the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Maud de Boer-Buquicchio to discuss Armenia’s implementation of recommendations issued on April 17 by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly.
The resolution stressed the need for far-reaching political reforms and the establishment of dialogue between the Armenian Government and the opposition. It warned that failure to implement the changes by the time the PACE meets in June would freeze Armenia’s voting rights within the Council of Europe.
The Armenian authorities must use what little time is left before the June session effectively, de Boer-Buquicchio told Sargsyan.
While agreeing with her, Sargsyan noted the challenges of implementing PACE’s extensive list of recommendations.
It is important that democratic norms and principles be the essence of Armenian society, the Prime Minister said, assuring de Boer-Buquicchio that the Government has the political will to carry out the necessary reforms.
But solving Armenia’s existing challenges is a very daunting task, he stressed, adding that it is difficult to expect that it is possible to change Armenian society in one month.
The Government has already made public its desire to make positive changes and has even begun taking serious steps to that end, he said.
The government is currently working on a new Poverty Reduction Program that will significantly decrease the country’s tense political situation, Sargsyan explained.
De Boer-Buquicchio said she was very glad that the Armenian government was displaying resolve in carrying out the reforms and expressed assurance that the initiatives will manage to solve a number of serious issues.
She also stressed the need for the opposition to take on a more constructive role and not merely forward deman’s to the Government.
De Boer-Buquicchio also expressed the Council of Europe’s readiness to continue supporting Armenia in the fight against corruption, and the continued implementation of legislative, electoral, and judicial reforms.

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