YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Citizens of the European Union member states travelling to Armenia will no longer need entry visas starting from next year, the Armenian government announced on Thursday in what it called a further boost to the country’s European integration.
The landmark measure, effective from January 10, 2013, means that EU nationals will be allowed to stay in Armenia visa-free for up to 90 days each year. It also applies to citizens of European nations such as Switzerland that are not EU members but are part of the bloc’s borderless Schengen area.
Armenia thus became the fourth non-Baltic former Soviet republic — after Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova — to unilaterally abolish visa requirements for Europeans. It currently has mutual visa-free regimes with less than two dozen countries, including Georgia, Russia and most of the other ex-Soviet states.
In an explanatory note, the government said that visa-free travel will stimulate a greater influx of European tourists and help to expand Armenia’s business ties with the EU. More importantly, it also put the measure in the context of ongoing negotiations on the signing of an “association agreement” between Armenia and the 27-nation bloc.
The Republic of Armenia has adopted a policy of integration with the EU and is holding negotiations with the EU on the association agreement and the creation of a free and comprehensive free trade area,” explains the document.
One of the main elements of that accord is a facilitation of the EU’s strict visa requirements for Armenians planning to travel to Europe. It is expected that they will be able receive Schengen visas with fewer documents and at a lower cost. In return, Yerevan will have to sign a separate “readmission agreement” with Brussels that will commit it to helping EU immigration authorities expedite the repatriation of Armenian illegal immigrants.
Armenian and EU officials opened formal negotiations on visa facilitation in February. Diplomats in Yerevan have reported major progress in the talks.
In the written explanation endorsed by the government, the Armenian Foreign Ministry also argued that a unilateral scrapping of visas would encourage the EU to take a “differentiated approach” to Armenia and Azerbaijan on the issue.
Ministry officials are worried that the EU could delay the entry into force of a more liberal visa regime with Armenia until it negotiates a similar deal with Azerbaijan, presumably to avoid Azerbaijani accusations of pro-Armenian bias. Brussels’ visa facilitation talks with Yerevan are apparently at a more advanced stage than those with Baku.
The document also declares that the EU is ready, in principle, to eventually scrap visas for Armenians altogether. It says the two sides plan to start a “dialogue” on the matter one year after the softer Schengen visa rules take effect.
Armenia’s own visa procedures for much of the outside world have been quite simple since the late 1990s. EU and U.S. citizens can get visas at not only Armenian consulates abroad but also the country’s border crossings and Yerevan airport.
“The document also declares that the EU is ready, in principle, to eventually scrap visas for Armenians altogether.”
Hey “Armenian government” what a brilliant move… while twice the number of Armenians are living outside Armenia and in danger of assimilation, instead of working on bringing those Armenians in, open your doors to Europe huh? And eventually make it easier for Armenians to depopulate Armenia. I don’t know whats worse, LTP, the Protocols, or this lunacy.
Europe is a worse enemy than Turkey, only the mafia-turned government wouldn’t have a clue or care.
Man are you kidding me? What is wrong with you? What kind of a selfish statement is that. Let’s see, Armenia has a depopulation problem and you suggestion is to lock up the remaining population, while YOU sit here in the west drinking latte’s and making observations from the comfort of your home. Wonderful. You did not think about what positive outcome can this bring? A) more European tourists B) more exchanges between people, institutions and industries C) actually brings Armenia closer to Europe makes it more integrated D) this will make Armenia less corrupt.
Oh and if we have a depopulation problem lets think about ways of fixing the issue. Locking up folks is not the solution.
Armenia’s integration with EU standard will make Armenia less corrupt and more law biding citizens, where Armenia is suffering the most since collapse of USSR, especially in a volatile place like South Caucasus. Armenia surrounded with sea of radical dictatorial, Islamic countries, and we need a better protection from Europeans!!
Thanks I am agree with you. Armenia need to join the Eu . future of Armenia line with the European country for better future for next generation
Do you think a visa should be required for Diaspora Armenians entering Hayastan? I realize most of us
will not be bankrupted by the 3,000 Dram for it, however, the recent difficulty caused to Syrian Armenians
by the Armenian government, before it corrected itself, raises the issue for many Diaspora Armenians.
Armenian goverment did their best to help Diaspora Armenians in syria, provide house, school and money for them. and also Drops Visas for syrian Armenia, to make sure they can stay here. Thank for our president, our future line with EU
I don’t see how making business ties with a bankrupt European Union will do any good for Armenia. Except to bring in the unwanted and undesirables Muslims from the EU to come and destroy our country too.
There are many Muslims in Armenia from Iran.
What they’re opening their doors to are the millions of Turks living in Germany, France and other EU countries. How can the government of Armenia reach a decision this important without a referendum being put before the Armenian voters?
You are just being paranoid and ignorant. Relax, Turks don’t want to come to Armenia, and if they did they would by now via Germany (as German citizens).
It is a useless gesture. Anyone from anywhere wanting to come to Armenia must get a visa. What is wrong with a visa ? What is the purpose of such a foolhardy move such as removing visa regulations from the EU?. Today it is the EU, tomorrow the whole globe.It is the same syndrome of copying what others do. The EU population transfer policies are based on open borders, any dick tom and harry from any galaxy is free to circulate as it wishes. These kind of policies are anathema to national homelands. The only ones who will benefit from this visa free entry would be the scoundrels, professional mafias , crooked gangsters and the flotsam from abroad. The 3000 dram visa at the airport is inexpensive, and well worth it for genuine visitors. As for diasporan Armenians, it is a small way of contributing to the ministry of interior coffers. Any diasporan Armenia should feel glad to pay the 3000 Dram and even 6000 if it was required, to enter and breathe the air of the fatherland. As for other visitors a visa is a vital requirement, it screens and filters the genuine visitor from the fraudulent professional wanderers .
Are you kidding me? Have you seen the visa process?? It screens nothing and prevents no one from entering. Its a piece of paper on which you write your name and date of birth. The end. What about the fact that America has a visa free entry for most of the Western Worlds? Does this bother you somehow? That a Frenchman can jump on a plane come to US and make a business deal. What about the thousands of hikers, travelers who will now pass through to Armenia via Georgia etc, etc, and while they are at it spend money in Armenia and go home telling others what a great place it is. No, no one thinks of that. Western Normal Nations don’t make money for their interior ministry through issuing visas. Money is collected through tax reform and combating corruption.
looks good in my passport
This is an important and symbolic move for Armenia which is struggling economically in a hostile environment. Tourism is important for the economy and facilitating the ease of entry of EU citizens can only be a positive move. The question remains on whether this move will also open up the possibility for Armenians who want to work and visit EU countries. Historically Armenians have always been linked to Europe. Unfortunately some Armenians have a very narrow view of Armenia’s destiny because of their tragic and profoundly unjust history they can not reach out. Others are open to exploring cultural links with countries that are geographically distant but culturally close. Solidarity with Armenia I say….
I keep hearing all these nice things about Armenia eventually becoming part of EU…
If Armenia becomes part of EU, it’ll have to deal through the European Central Bank (ECB) and because of it, there will be more wars and Armenian blood will be shed. We don’t want this!
Hi..I have an armenian visit visa can i travel to other schengen countries on this visa??
I am from India and need your advise
Why should an Italian, or a French lower level of their society be able to come to our country without a visa but us Armenians nor having the same opportunity. How many Armenians are actually citizens of our small so called republic. Shame on our leaders where is your pride you guys are like ….. how can you claim to be Armenians .Time flies you have to answer to the history.