YEREVAN—“Despite Armenia’s decision in September 2013 not to sign the Association Agreement and DCFTA with the EU but rather to join the Eurasian Economic Union, the EU remains committed to further engagement with Armenia, and to strengthening bilateral cooperation within the Eastern Partnership, in all areas compatible with Armenia’s more recent policy choices,” the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia Traian Hristea said Wednesday at a conference titled, “EU-Armenia Cooperation: Perspective in the Actual Political Environment.”
“Currently, we are reflecting jointly with our Armenian counterparts on the scope for future EU-Armenia relations. Following the Joint Statement issued at the Eastern Partnership Vilnius summit in November 2013, both sides have started a joint reflection on how to revisit the legal basis for their relations,” he said.
“The EU and Armenia have launched in Brussels a scoping exercise on the future legal and political framework for EU-Armenia relations, based on information regarding Armenia’s EEU commitments and their possible implications on future relations with the EU. Both sides agreed to safeguard the negotiated but unsigned Association Agreement and to use it as reference toward this goal,” Hristea added.
“As long as good governance, reform of the judiciary, rule of law, human rights do not form part of the official Eurasian integration process, there is plenty of room for the EU to engage with Armenia, and for Armenia to demonstrate their commitment to reform. The upcoming human rights sector budget support is in that regard a welcome step – and at the same time a litmus test, for which the more-for-more principle also applies,” Hristea said.
He also attached importance to making best use out of the significant EU assistance of 140-170 million euros for the period of 2014-2017, focusing on private sector development, public administration reform and justice sector reform.
The envoy also said: “the EU is seriously concerned over the security situation in the region, especially after the unprecedented increase of tension and recent events at the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“The protracted Nagorno-Karabakh conflict does not have a military solution and the status quo is unsustainable. Although we are not part of the OSCE Minsk group negotiation mechanism, the EU further supports efforts towards peace through the EUSR and peacebuilding activities.”
“The EU also continues to supports the normalisation of Armenian-Turkish relations and encourages both sides to remain committed to the process of normalisation without preconditions, despite the withdrawal of protocols signed back in 2009 from parliaments of both countries. This year’s commemoration of atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire also is considered by us a test-case for Armenia-Turkey relations,” he stated.