Ambassador Świtalski’s Europe Day Press Conference | EUNewsletter

Ambassador Świtalski’s Europe Day Press Conference

25 May 2017
ARS_6030

On 8 May the Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski gave a press conference on Europe Day 2017 celebrations in Armenia. He discussed EU-Armenia relations and the embezzlement case of EU grants.

EU-Armenia relations

ARS_6004May will be a busy month for the EU Delegation to Armenia due to the Europe Day celebrations from 6-27 May. Ambassador Świtalski mentioned that Armenia was considered part of the wider European family and that all the values embodied in Europe Day were shared: ‘We hope very much to use this opportunity to conduct direct dialogue with the Armenian population, youth in particular. Europe Day celebrations started in Yerevan on 6 May, when Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan honoured us with a visit to the office of the EU Delegation. We will hold events in seven Armenian cities. The last event will be in Yerevan on 27 May. Europe Day is an occasion to talk about the achievements of and important documents created as a result of EU-Armenia cooperation. The EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement was announced on 21 March in Yerevan. I hope that, by the autumn, the agreement will be ready to be signed. However, the key will be implementation. These agreements offer opportunities, but how we use them is up to us. In January I spoke about another important document, Partnership Priorities. I can tell you that the draft has already been agreed between the European Union and Armenia. Armenia is the first Eastern Partnership country to negotiate with the European Union on this new type of document. I hope very much that this agreement will be signed soon. The third important document is the Single Support Framework. These are the areas of EU development assistance in Armenia until 2020. The draft has been submitted to the European Parliament and has received good feedback. I hope that the final version will be officially finalised soon. We are currently very busy working on the next Action Plan, our annual commitment. We plan to include some new areas of cooperation, areas where the European Union has not so far invested its resources. We are very happy to expand our cooperation and development assistance. I hope these new documents will produce very tangible results for ordinary Armenians – for me that is the most important challenge’.

Embezzlement case

ARS_5992The Ambassador also answered questions concerning the embezzlement case of EU grants in Armenia. On 27 April, the Delegation disseminated a press release on the detention of the Delegation’s staff member. Ambassador Świtalski clarified the information provided: ‘Our announcement contains four elements. Firstly, this embezzlement case was discovered by the EU Delegation – this shows that our verification and control mechanisms work well, which is very important. Secondly, the EU Delegation has passed the information on to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Many Armenians may not have heard of OLAF before – it carried out an independent, internal analysis of the case. OLAF is an independent anti-corruption body within the EU which investigates dozen of similar cases around the world. I would use this case to support my recommendation to the Armenian government to establish a similar independent anti-corruption body. OLAF is proof shows that such bodies can be very effective. If Armenian government is interested how OLAF works, we are open. Thirdly, OLAF has informed the Armenian authorities about its investigation and they have been conducting their own investigation. One member of our staff was detained in connection with this ongoing investigation. I think that the cooperation between the EU and Armenia will become stronger thanks to this joint work. I hope that the Armenian investigative committee will treat other corruption cases at a similar level of seriousness. As for the fourth element, I cannot jump to any conclusions as the trial has not yet begun and everyone has the right to be presumed innocent before being potentially proven guilty. Let’s wait for the decision of the court’.

Ambassador Świtalski’s Europe Day Press Conference

On 8 May the Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski gave a press conference on Europe Day 2017 celebrations in Armenia. He discussed EU-Armenia relations and the embezzlement case of EU grants.

EU-Armenia relations

ARS_6004May will be a busy month for the EU Delegation to Armenia due to the Europe Day celebrations from 6-27 May. Ambassador Świtalski mentioned that Armenia was considered part of the wider European family and that all the values embodied in Europe Day were shared: 'We hope very much to use this opportunity to conduct direct dialogue with the Armenian population, youth in particular. Europe Day celebrations started in Yerevan on 6 May, when Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan honoured us with a visit to the office of the EU Delegation. We will hold events in seven Armenian cities. The last event will be in Yerevan on 27 May. Europe Day is an occasion to talk about the achievements of and important documents created as a result of EU-Armenia cooperation. The EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement was announced on 21 March in Yerevan. I hope that, by the autumn, the agreement will be ready to be signed. However, the key will be implementation. These agreements offer opportunities, but how we use them is up to us. In January I spoke about another important document, Partnership Priorities. I can tell you that the draft has already been agreed between the European Union and Armenia. Armenia is the first Eastern Partnership country to negotiate with the European Union on this new type of document. I hope very much that this agreement will be signed soon. The third important document is the Single Support Framework. These are the areas of EU development assistance in Armenia until 2020. The draft has been submitted to the European Parliament and has received good feedback. I hope that the final version will be officially finalised soon. We are currently very busy working on the next Action Plan, our annual commitment. We plan to include some new areas of cooperation, areas where the European Union has not so far invested its resources. We are very happy to expand our cooperation and development assistance. I hope these new documents will produce very tangible results for ordinary Armenians – for me that is the most important challenge'.

Embezzlement case

ARS_5992The Ambassador also answered questions concerning the embezzlement case of EU grants in Armenia. On 27 April, the Delegation disseminated a press release on the detention of the Delegation’s staff member. Ambassador Świtalski clarified the information provided: 'Our announcement contains four elements. Firstly, this embezzlement case was discovered by the EU Delegation – this shows that our verification and control mechanisms work well, which is very important. Secondly, the EU Delegation has passed the information on to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Many Armenians may not have heard of OLAF before – it carried out an independent, internal analysis of the case. OLAF is an independent anti-corruption body within the EU which investigates dozen of similar cases around the world. I would use this case to support my recommendation to the Armenian government to establish a similar independent anti-corruption body. OLAF is proof shows that such bodies can be very effective. If Armenian government is interested how OLAF works, we are open. Thirdly, OLAF has informed the Armenian authorities about its investigation and they have been conducting their own investigation. One member of our staff was detained in connection with this ongoing investigation. I think that the cooperation between the EU and Armenia will become stronger thanks to this joint work. I hope that the Armenian investigative committee will treat other corruption cases at a similar level of seriousness. As for the fourth element, I cannot jump to any conclusions as the trial has not yet begun and everyone has the right to be presumed innocent before being potentially proven guilty. Let's wait for the decision of the court'.