BY CHRISTINE MAYDOSSIAN
For my research paper during the ANCA Eastern Region Sponsored Internship at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations, I decided to write about the case for Armenia’s integration into the European Union. Having had experience interning at the Mission of Canada to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium, I was interested to learn more about the possibilities and benefits of closer political, economic, and social Armenia-EU ties for both parties. Strengthening the Armenia-EU relationship will contribute to swifter and more sustainable development in Armenia as well as to facilitating varied cooperation between Armenia and the 27 EU Member States. The EU will also benefit as among other things Armenia represents significant agricultural and alternative energy opportunities for European investors.
As a fast-paced developing nation in the midst of institutional modernization and reform, the Republic of Armenia is continuously working towards a closer relationship with the European Union. Through operating with various governmental and non-governmental institutions, particularly the United Nations Development Programme and the EU Advisory Group, efforts to improve political, economic, and social infrastructures are increasingly efficient and effective. The Armenia-EU relationship is systematically advancing, as on March 15, 2011, Armenian Prime Minister, Tigran Sargsyan, and European Commission President, José Manuel Barrosso, met in Brussels to discuss development in Armenia, in reference to what policies are further required to be established in order to strengthen ties with the 27 EU Member States.
The UNDP provides strategic and operational support to the government of Armenia in its work with the EU Advisory Group so as to simplify efforts to implement ministry-specific policies aimed at improving the lives of all Armenian citizens. Projects range from health and human rights awareness to strengthening diplomatic relationships, particularly in reference to attracting trade and foreign direct investment from across the globe. Seventeen advisers from a range of EU Member States are funded 2.8 million Euros by the European Union to provide assistance in the organization and execution of these projects.
The UNDP attempts to contribute to the modernization of the Republic of Armenia, particularly through altering traditional and often outdated cultural practices that may leave a population stagnant. Through encouraging education for youth, new generations are able to have the forward-looking perspective required for the development of society.
Granted its desire for a closer relationship with the 27 Member States at political, economic, and social levels, the Republic of Armenia is improving its development policies at a swift pace. Nevertheless, an extensive path remains if it desires to be wholly in line with all standardization regulations and requirements for official accession to the European Union.
In light of current international economic failures, the Republic of Armenia currently has the opportunity to utilize its resources and to further develop the nation. Ample natural resources, fertile agriculturally diverse lands, clean air, and the possibility to start from a clean slate are instruments that may be used to build a solid foundation for legitimate and sustainable growth and development. Due to its technological progress and vast environmental resources, the country also has solid capacity for green development, which may contribute to making it a future environmental leader in the region.
Negotiating a bilateral free trade agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the European Union may also facilitate the economic development of both regions as well as streamline closer Armenian diplomatic relations with each of the 27 Member States. As a result, the Republic of Armenia’s bid for a possible accession in the future may be simplified.
The many higher academic institutions in the Republic of Armenia are producing educated students, prepared for professional careers but often unable to find work in the country. Through developing the national economy, jobs will be created for young professionals keeping them in the country so that they may contribute to long-term economic prosperity. The Bologna Process has set in motion the exchange of students between the Republic of Armenia and the 27 Member States. This has allowed for Armenian students to gain a larger perspective about the world and for foreign students to learn about inter alia the historical and cultural significance of the Republic of Armenia. It is significant to also facilitate the mobility of professors to introduce new perspectives as well as to facilitate professional qualification recognition between the Republic of Armenia and the EU.
Decentralizing employment and development opportunities from Yerevan is also instrumental in acquiring the necessary economic development in rural areas for a closer relationship with the EU.
Conflict resolution between the Republic of Armenia and Turkey and Armenia and Azerbaijan are also pre-conditions to smoothen the relationship with the European Union. Although the United Nations works incrementally due to the difficulty of reaching consensus between 193 diverse nations, dialogue is indefinitely created between Armenia and the countries it has conflicts with, establishing the basis for initiating positive change. This allows for the most efficient solutions in a timely manner, guaranteeing the effectiveness and legitimacy of diplomatic partnerships, humanitarian initiatives, as well as trans-national economic and social development.
The Republic of Armenia’s active participation in dialogue and negotiations to improve world matters and to render the international arena more secure for its populations is also significant. This includes the encouragement of anti-corruption measures and political reforms both nationally and internationally. Gaining influence in the decision-making process of international security matters is imperative if the Republic of Armenia wishes to be a part of the EU.
In conclusion, as a nation working towards accession to the European Union, the Republic of Armenia is increasingly multiplying efforts in collaboration with the UNDP and the EU advisory group to meet the necessary criteria. This includes standardization of political, economic, and social policies, as well as strengthening government infrastructures to build a more stable, secure, and efficient nation.