The recent visit by the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan to Brussels, during which he met with the leaders of the European Union, gave a new impetus to the Armenia-EU relations.
Specifying expectations and positions
During the joint press conference of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and European Council President Donald Tusk on the results of the Brussels negotiations, the parties announced their expectations and positions. After the negotiations that touched on a broad range of issues – from democratic transformations in Armenia to regional and international issues, Nikol Pashinyan said that “the dynamic political changes that have taken place in our country as well as the democratic elections, brought Armenia and the European Union even closer together, as far as their shared values are concerned”; that “Armenia is more determined now and it wishes to deepen the cooperation with the European Union” and that “the New Armenia is ready to make continuous efforts and to offer new ideas and innovations aimed at the facilitation of the cooperation with the European Union and the EU Member States. I am glad that our European friends and colleagues have such an approach and vision in the context of our bilateral program. “
“The EU will continue to support Armenia in the process of forming a more consolidated democracy and creating a better economic future for its citizens. We are determined to fulfill our promises to implement the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement, which will benefit both Armenia and the European Union. Most of the agreement is already in place and has already had a tangible impact. The EU is Armenia’s largest export partner, accounting for more than 28% of Armenia’s exports. This agreement is being applied in parallel with the internal reforms. The EU is ready to continue to support the process of these reforms in the future by providing extensive technical and financial assistance. We share your determination to put emphasis on the fight against corruption and the strengthening of the rule of law, “said Donald Tusk.
Financial support for the Armenian reforms
In January, Brussels adopted a plan for the next few years, according to which the European Union and the World Bank will provide about 13 billion Euros for the implementation of a number of large-scale infrastructure projects in the six countries participating in the Eastern Partnership program. Under this program, Armenia will be allocated over 700 million Euros. According to the published EU document, most of Armenia’s top priority programs are linked to the International North-South transport corridor. In particular, 450 million Euros are earmarked for the construction of the Artashat-Agarak section of the North-South motorway (up to the border with Iran). 41million Euros will be allocated for the same highway for the reconstruction of the Gyumri-Bavra section (up to the border with Georgia), another 7.5million euros will be allocated for the repair of the Yerevan-Vanadzor motorway. In addition, the EU and the World Bank plan to allocate around 15million Euros for the modernization of the Meghri border crossing on the Armenian-Iranian border.
At present, the government and some ministries, as well as the inter-ministerial commission established for the CEPA, are working on joint programs in other areas as well – IT, education, culture, small and medium business support, regions, ecology, etc. which the European Union is ready to fund.
Relations with the EU as one of the key elements for Armenia’s security and regional stability
A separate part of the talks was devoted to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and regional security concerns. At a joint press conference, the President of the European Council stated: “As you know, the EU fully supports the Co-Presidents of the Minsk Group and their proposals. I feel more hopeful after the recent contacts between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan and I welcome the alleviation of tensions in the region. The EU continues to believe that the situation is unstable: the conflict has no military solution and needs a quick political resolution under international law. Preparing the population to establish peace is the most important step towards regulation and we are ready to cooperate. ” The position of the Armenian side on this issue was expressed by Pashinyan: “We appreciate the highly balanced position of the EU in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which supports the Co-Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group, their position and their efforts. This is a valuable contribution which will help to ensure peace and security in our region. I have vouched for Armenia’s wish for a fully peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
It should be noted that one of the key members of the United Nations Security Council – France is one of the three co-chair members of the OSCE Minsk Group, and the above-mentioned EU position in this context is undoubtedly an important stabilizing factor in the region, even though the EU is not directly involved in the negotiation process on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The EU position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict practically coincides fully with the NATO position expressed in Yerevan in the framework of the NATO Week of Armenia by the Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai: “It is undisputed, that NATO is interested in peace and security. We are optimistic after seeing that the new government of Armenia is once again making efforts for the peace process. We are optimistic because of the significant alleviation of tensions in conflict-affected areas. According to NATO, this conflict can only be resolved peacefully. There can be no military solution for it. “
– Armenia seeks to strengthen the partnership with the European Union in accordance with the previously announced policy – no geopolitical twists and turns; development of relations in all areas, and the areas should not be opposed to each other and no area should be developed at the expense of another; a change in the quality and the philosophy of foreign policy;
– relations with the European Union are seen by Yerevan as a strategic factor, not only because they are necessary for the success of internal reforms and their economic component, and as a source of financial assistance, but because they are based on common values and a worldview;
– the development of the Armenia-EU relations within the framework of CEPA, as well as the relations with member states of the EU, are perceived in Yerevan as one of the key factors for security given their consolidated balanced position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and their support of the triple co-presidency of the OSCE Minsk Group for the peaceful resolution of the conflict; the development of these relations are also perceived as the most important goal in the Armenian security policy diversification plan.
Prepared in the frames of the “CACDS. South Caucasus” project