A new round of EU-Armenia talks | EUNewsletter

A new round of EU-Armenia talks

16 February 2016
ARS_4853

The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Świtalski, was invited to discuss the new round of the EU-Armenia talks with Armenian journalists on 9 February 2016. Ambassador Świtalski made an initial speech and answered questions from the floor. Below you will find the views he shared on key topics concerning EU-Armenia cooperation.

EU-Armenia relationship
Armenia and the EU have entered into a new, constructive phase of their relationship. The EU has a positive agenda – we are trying to build something new, to develop a new model of relationship. I am very glad that the political dialogue between the EU and Armenia is developing quite well – last year President Tusk visited Armenia, and this year we are expecting a visit of High Representative Mogherini quite soon. This is a good signal of the willingness of the EU to develop a productive relationship with Armenia. Last December negotiations on a new framework agreement between the EU and Armenia were launched in Brussels, during which both sides declared their readiness to conclude negotiations as soon as possible. We are also implementing a new revised Neighbourhood policy, which we hope will coalesce into a new framework agreement. The strategic objective the EU is pursuing in the negotiations is to show that it is possible to be a member of another supranational organisation and simultaneously have good relations with the EU. As you know, the EU is Armenia’s biggest foreign donor, we are spending over €50 million in Armenia each year. Our aim is to support Armenia in its efforts to stabilise, prosper and modernise. The main method of supporting those efforts is to help Armenians to design and benefit from proper institutions and laws.
The future framework of the new agreement
The framework agreement will create a solid legal basis for bilateral relations. We hope that the parts of the agreement relating to shared values, justice, and laws will be adopted without changes. However, other parts will need to be adjusted, particularly trade. This is because the Association Agreement was based on the logic of approximation, i.e. Armenia moving closer to the EU and opening its market to the EU and vice-versa. However, with the new reality of Armenia joining the Eurasian Union, this is no longer possible. Then again, we still hope that the new agreement will contain a number of provisions which will facilitate and encourage European investments in and trade with Armenia. We hope very much that all remaining aspects of cooperation from the Association Agreement will be adopted to the greatest extent possible. Let’s look at the new framework agreement as the floor and not the ceiling – it will be the basis on which we should develop practical forms of cooperation, political dialogue and a good climate for investment and trade. This should be the starting point and not the limit of our opportunities.
The revised Neighbourhood policy
The revised Neighbourhood policy is based on differentiation. This means that our cooperation with each country is based on the country’s own priorities. There are discussions with Armenia on every level: economic, security aspects, political, etc. We are now in a constructive, prodcutive phase of our cooperation, and there are no apparent gaps in that engagement. Everywhere I go, every Armenian official I meet from government and opposition confirms the willingness of Armenia to have close and good relations with the EU. This is something we take very seriously and we will be able to harness to achieve new, greater quality of our relations. The president of Armenia, on number of occasions, has said that Armenia wants to build relations with the EU on the basis of common values. This is a very important statement, which we take very seriously.
Armenia towards the 2017 elections
There are priority areas in which Armenia can use the best practices of the EU. With this in mind, we are now in the process of providing human rights budget support. This comprises concrete budget support, where the EU is putting money to help the Armenian authorities. Only a few days ago we had the opportunity to read the report of the OSCE/ODIHR mission on the last referendum in Armenia. The electoral process in Armenia needs improvements, and this report is a proof. Take this seriously – the Government of Armenia needs to do its homework – the Armenian state will benefit greatly if the comments and recommendations from the report are implemented.
We believe that the 2017 elections in Armenia constitute a crucial moment for the future of Armenia. This will be the first national elections to be conducted on the basis of new constitutional arrangements. Armenia will move from a presidential to a parliamentary model. One thing is the trust of every Armenian in the fairness of the election process and legitimacy of democratic institutions, and another is the international image of Armenia. When I talk to the Armenian state authorities or members of the oppostition we define two main problems in the electoral process. The first one is voter registration – stressed by the OSCE report – the second is the voting process on election day, including counting and tabulation. We urge all political parties, the government and members of the opposition to engage in dialogue, to adopt a new electoral code through an inclusive process, and to seriously address these weak points, all of which have been clearly described by the OSCE.
Issues and prospects
The EU respects Armenia’s secutity choices, we know it is a priority for the country. The EU doesn’t play geopolitics and we believe that a country like Armenia in this geographical and security situation should be interested in having as many friends as possible. The EU is coming here as a friend, there is no hidden agenda in our policy in Armenia. We believe that Armenia is a part of the European civilisation and it is an organic part of Europe. Armenians, in particular the younger generation, feel this way – they want to live like Europeans and therefore your link to Europe is quite natural. The EU takes this link it very seriously, because Armenia is a part of the European neighbourhood. The EU wants to have good relations in its neighbourhood, to have stable, modern, and prosperous societies. The new revised Neighbourhood policy is quite clear on this: the EU doesn’t want to protect itself from the neighbourhood, rather we want an organic relationship with it.

A new round of EU-Armenia talks

The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Świtalski, was invited to discuss the new round of the EU-Armenia talks with Armenian journalists on 9 February 2016. Ambassador Świtalski made an initial speech and answered questions from the floor. Below you will find the views he shared on key topics concerning EU-Armenia cooperation. EU-Armenia relationship Armenia and the EU have entered into a new, constructive phase of their relationship. The EU has a positive agenda – we are trying to build something new, to develop a new model of relationship. I am very glad that the political dialogue between the EU and Armenia is developing quite well – last year President Tusk visited Armenia, and this year we are expecting a visit of High Representative Mogherini quite soon. This is a good signal of the willingness of the EU to develop a productive relationship with Armenia. Last December negotiations on a new framework agreement between the EU and Armenia were launched in Brussels, during which both sides declared their readiness to conclude negotiations as soon as possible. We are also implementing a new revised Neighbourhood policy, which we hope will coalesce into a new framework agreement. The strategic objective the EU is pursuing in the negotiations is to show that it is possible to be a member of another supranational organisation and simultaneously have good relations with the EU. As you know, the EU is Armenia’s biggest foreign donor, we are spending over €50 million in Armenia each year. Our aim is to support Armenia in its efforts to stabilise, prosper and modernise. The main method of supporting those efforts is to help Armenians to design and benefit from proper institutions and laws. The future framework of the new agreement The framework agreement will create a solid legal basis for bilateral relations. We hope that the parts of the agreement relating to shared values, justice, and laws will be adopted without changes. However, other parts will need to be adjusted, particularly trade. This is because the Association Agreement was based on the logic of approximation, i.e. Armenia moving closer to the EU and opening its market to the EU and vice-versa. However, with the new reality of Armenia joining the Eurasian Union, this is no longer possible. Then again, we still hope that the new agreement will contain a number of provisions which will facilitate and encourage European investments in and trade with Armenia. We hope very much that all remaining aspects of cooperation from the Association Agreement will be adopted to the greatest extent possible. Let’s look at the new framework agreement as the floor and not the ceiling – it will be the basis on which we should develop practical forms of cooperation, political dialogue and a good climate for investment and trade. This should be the starting point and not the limit of our opportunities. The revised Neighbourhood policy The revised Neighbourhood policy is based on differentiation. This means that our cooperation with each country is based on the country’s own priorities. There are discussions with Armenia on every level: economic, security aspects, political, etc. We are now in a constructive, prodcutive phase of our cooperation, and there are no apparent gaps in that engagement. Everywhere I go, every Armenian official I meet from government and opposition confirms the willingness of Armenia to have close and good relations with the EU. This is something we take very seriously and we will be able to harness to achieve new, greater quality of our relations. The president of Armenia, on number of occasions, has said that Armenia wants to build relations with the EU on the basis of common values. This is a very important statement, which we take very seriously. Armenia towards the 2017 elections There are priority areas in which Armenia can use the best practices of the EU. With this in mind, we are now in the process of providing human rights budget support. This comprises concrete budget support, where the EU is putting money to help the Armenian authorities. Only a few days ago we had the opportunity to read the report of the OSCE/ODIHR mission on the last referendum in Armenia. The electoral process in Armenia needs improvements, and this report is a proof. Take this seriously – the Government of Armenia needs to do its homework – the Armenian state will benefit greatly if the comments and recommendations from the report are implemented. We believe that the 2017 elections in Armenia constitute a crucial moment for the future of Armenia. This will be the first national elections to be conducted on the basis of new constitutional arrangements. Armenia will move from a presidential to a parliamentary model. One thing is the trust of every Armenian in the fairness of the election process and legitimacy of democratic institutions, and another is the international image of Armenia. When I talk to the Armenian state authorities or members of the oppostition we define two main problems in the electoral process. The first one is voter registration - stressed by the OSCE report - the second is the voting process on election day, including counting and tabulation. We urge all political parties, the government and members of the opposition to engage in dialogue, to adopt a new electoral code through an inclusive process, and to seriously address these weak points, all of which have been clearly described by the OSCE. Issues and prospects The EU respects Armenia's secutity choices, we know it is a priority for the country. The EU doesn't play geopolitics and we believe that a country like Armenia in this geographical and security situation should be interested in having as many friends as possible. The EU is coming here as a friend, there is no hidden agenda in our policy in Armenia. We believe that Armenia is a part of the European civilisation and it is an organic part of Europe. Armenians, in particular the younger generation, feel this way – they want to live like Europeans and therefore your link to Europe is quite natural. The EU takes this link it very seriously, because Armenia is a part of the European neighbourhood. The EU wants to have good relations in its neighbourhood, to have stable, modern, and prosperous societies. The new revised Neighbourhood policy is quite clear on this: the EU doesn't want to protect itself from the neighbourhood, rather we want an organic relationship with it.