BRUSSELS—Armenia and the European Union on Friday signed a long-anticipated accord, known as the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which aims to strengthen ties between the two sides.
The agreement was signed by Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.
“This comprehensive and ambitious agreement is our joint endeavor that opens a new chapter in the bilateral relations between the Republic of Armenia and the European Union,” Nalbandian said at the signing ceremony.
“By reaffirming commitments to the consolidation of democratic institutions, human rights, the rule of law the CEPA gives a strong impetus to the continuation of the reforms in Armenia,” Minister Nalbandian added.
“It is important that CEPA reaffirms EU’s clear support to the efforts and approaches of OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs for the peaceful resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict based on the norms and principles of international law,” the Armenian Foreign Minister stated.
“This agreement is the first of this kind that is concluded with a party that is also a member of the Eurasian Economic Union. It will now be very important to implement it,” said Mogherini.
“The Agreement we have signed today will have a real impact on people’s lives, a positive one, both in Armenia and in the European Union,” Mogherini said at the CEPA signing ceremony.
“It will allow us to strengthen our cooperation on security matters, in particular through increasing resilience; to improve the investment climate, stimulating growth and jobs; and to find environmentally-friendly solutions to help communities prosper and businesses grow,” Mogherini said.
“It has been a long-term objective of ours to have an ambitious agreement in place that better reflects the priorities of our partnership with Armenia, to address the challenges we face and to make the most of the opportunities available to us through even stronger cooperation,” she added.
“Through this agreement, the EU-Armenia partnership will continue to be anchored and based on our shared common principles and strong commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” Mogherini stated.
Attending the ceremony were President Serzh Sarkisian and the President of European Council Donald Tusk.
Sarkisian and Nalbandian are in Brussels to attend the EU’s Eastern Partnership summit. The signing ceremony became the highlight of the summit, which brings togethers leaders from the European Union and the South Caucasus.
This agreement has been in the works for several years, with diplomatic efforts around the specifics of the deal accelerating during the past several months.
In 2013, Armenia and European were poised to sign an Association Agreement, which would have made Armenia part of the “deep and comprehensive free trade area” with the European Union. President Sarkisian backed out of that deal, opting instead to become a member of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, known as the EEU.
EAFDJ Welcomes CEPA
“We are very content that CEPA was signed today, thus giving a fresh impetus and solid basis for deepening the relations between the EU and Armenia. CEPA is a result of political wisdom and will to build a strong and enhanced partnership, taking into account the political realities. Our heartfelt congratulations go also to the chief negotiators of both Armenia and the EU as well as their teams, for their determination and hard work,” stated European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy President Kaspar Karampetian.
“CEPA offers new perspectives and possibilities to enhance Armenia’s strong cultural, historic, political ties with Europe and contribute to the economic development of the country. Now it is also up to the Armenian authorities to make best use of these opportunities, combating challenges, including rule of law and social justice. We, as the European Armenian Federation will be closely following the implementation and will bring our full support to its success,” added Karampetian.
EAFJD President further elaborated that “CEPA shows a new level of maturity, pragmatism and flexibility of the European Union as an external policy actor in its eastern neighborhood. In other words, the conclusion of the CEPA with Armenia was also a test for the EU as an external policy actor in its eastern neighborhood which the EU passed successfully.”
“CEPA emphasizes that Nagorno Karabakh conflict should be settled in the framework of the negotiations led by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, following the three principles, including the equal rights and self-determination of peoples. We are convinced that Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh cannot continue staying the only part in its neighborhood where the EU does not implement any projects, thus indirectly endorsing the total isolation of Artsakh, imposed by Azerbaijan, violating all basic human rights of the people of Artsakh enshrined inter alia in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” concluded Karampetian.
Under the agreement, the sides express determination to strengthen comprehensive political and economic partnership and cooperation – based on common values and close ties, including by raising Armenia’s participation in the European Union’s policy, programs and works of agencies.
The agreement seeks to boost, preserve and strengthen peace and stability in both regional and international levels, including combining efforts for eliminating sources of tension, through enhancing border security, as well as cross-border cooperation and friendly relations. Mobility and contacts between peoples of various countries will also be expanded.
The agreement stresses the significance of Armenia’s commitment for the peaceful and lasting settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the necessity of reaching this settlement as soon as possible within the frameworks of the negotiations of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs: by also accepting the necessity of reaching this settlement based on goals and principles stipulated in the UN Charter and the OSCE Helsinki Final Act , namely the goals and principles which concern avoiding the use of force or the threat of use of force, territorial integrity of states and equality and self-determination right of peoples and are reflected in all statements of within the frames of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship since the 2008 OSCE 16th ministerial council meeting: mentioning also the European Union’s commitment in assisting the process of the settlement.
As common values, the agreement mentions respect for democratic principles, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely stipulated in the UN Charter, the OSCE Helsinki Final Act and the 1990 New Europe Paris Charter, as well as in other relevant human rights documents, for example the UN Human Rights Universal Declaration and the European Convention of Human Rights, comprises the domestic and foreign policy basis of the sides and important element of the agreement.
The sides reaffirm their commitments for liberal market economy principles, sustainable development, regional cooperation and effective versatility.