Tag Archives: Belgium

On 24 November in Brussels, Belgium, the 5th Eastern Partnership Summit took place to mark the achievements of the last two years of the EU’s relationships with its six Eastern partners. The 5th EaP Summit was long awaited by participants.
On the same day in Brussels, the Armenia’s Foreign Minister, Edward Nalbandian, and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, signed the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement in the presence of Armenia’s President, Serzh Sargsyan, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. Negotiations on the new EU-Armenia agreement started 2 years ago and successfully concluded on 26 February 2017. Once it enters into force, the new agreement will replace the EU-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
On the occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit, the European Union also concluded negotiations with Armenia for a new aviation agreement. It is estimated that this agreement will bring up to 87.000 additional passengers and will generate more than €16 million in the first five years. Under the agreement, Armenia will join the EU Common Aviation Area. This will liberalise the market in a mutual manner, allowing airlines to operate routes with no restrictions and enjoy the equal opportunity of servicing a market of 500 million people. European standards will be introduced into Armenian legislation and foreign airlines will be allowed to choose air routes commercially, without political interference.

ARS_9523On 27 November the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, held a press conference to speak about the mutual benefits and deeper cooperation the agreement should bring: ‘Let’s congratulate each other because it was a mutual success: many people have worked very hard to achieve this success in Armenia, in Brussels and in the capitals of our member states. For me it is an unbelievable pleasure to speak to you about this agreement, because this agreement is very important for both of us. I hope very much that it will boost our relations, consolidate the basis of our relations, and enlarge the scope of our relations. I hope, with time, all Armenian citizens will be able to benefit from this new chapter of our relations. The leaders of Armenia and the EU have commented upon the agreement and the experts have studied the contents. The agreement is different from the Association Agreement, but it retains its ambition. The EU is always taking on board the aspirations of our partners; therefore, it is wrong to speak about the EU pursuing either one or the other policy. This is an agreement that takes into account Armenia’s international commitments and obligations and is cooperative in nature; this means it is a joint commitment. The EU encourages but never imposes. Under the agreement, Armenia will undertake different commitments: fighting corruption, implementing judicial reforms, freeing up competition for businesses, etc. I can tell you, from a local perspective, that we, the EU Delegation to Armenia, are all set to do our best to implement the agreement as it creates new opportunities and opens new doors. However, the essential benefit from the new agreement is to ensure its successful implementation. We are all motivated to implement the agreement and establish cooperative ties with all Armenian partners. We have no time to rest, it’s a stimulus to intensify our work and make our contribution more effective and visible from the point of view of ordinary Armenian – we are doing it for ordinary Armenians. There is no need to talk about failure at this time because I am optimistic that this agreement will bring new quality to our relations and I’m very optimistic about implementation. I am confident that we will succeed’.

On 27 November the campaign “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence” (GBV) was officially launched in Matenadaran, Yerevan, to raise public awareness of and hold different events on GBV across Armenia. The campaign takes place from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10 (Human Rights Day). This year’s campaign theme is “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls”.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, Armenia’s Vice President of the National Assembly, Arpine Hovhannisyan, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender, Arman Tatoyan, the UN resident Coordinator in Armenia, Bradley Busetto, the Head of the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, Natalia Voutova, and the Ambassadors of France, Germany, United Kingdom and United States of America in Armenia took the floor to reconfirm their commitment to protecting the rights of women and girls and promoting women’s empowerment in Armenia.

ARS_9288Violence against women and girls remains one of the most serious human rights violations in the world. Almost one third of women in relationships report that they have experienced some form of violence, mostly from an intimate partner. According to the official data of the Armenia’s Investigative Committee, 215 criminal cases on domestic violence were investigated in the first half of 2017 in Armenia. Almost one third of criminal cases refer to violence used by men against their partners. The European Union and its member states place women’s human rights and gender equality at the core of all its external policies. The EU makes every possible effort to strengthen the voice of women, empower, and to assert their political, social, and economic rights women and girls. The 2016-2020 EU Gender Action Plan serves as the main guiding framework for EU actions and cooperation with partner countries, international and civil society organisations, and the private sector.

ARS_9384Ambassador Świtalski praised the work done by the Armenian government and civil society on this issue: ‘Last Friday we had a big event, as the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit was held in Brussels, Belgium. The leaders of EaP reaffirmed their commitment to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. What happened last Friday with the new EU-Armenia Agreement was also very important. Let me make very simple observations: firstly, from our perspective, the dignity of women is never relative, never conditional; secondly, human rights are indivisible, they should be applied equally; finally, let me make it very clear that the EU does not impose any values on our partners. We have never tried and there are no mechanisms to do it. Armenia is in a good situation, as we have declared that we share the values; therefore, there is nothing to impose as we are on the same page. We will continue our work on the basis of this new agreement and make these values strong and functioning for the benefit of ordinary citizens of Armenia, in particular for women’.

ARS_9372NA Vice President Hovhannisyan presented the situation in Armenia from a legislative perspective: ‘Any violence is chargeable, including violence against women and girls. Violence has a negative effect not only on an individual’s psychological, sexual or physical health, but also an institutional impact: it directly and/or indirectly affects the sustainable development of states. The high numbers in our country of GBV are worrying. The draft law on “Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence” is currently on the agenda of the National Assembly (NA). This week it’s on the agenda of the Standing Committee on State and Legal Affairs and Protection of Human Rights,and where it will be discussed. Serious work has been done to address ongoing concerns. After the committee’s discussion, the draft law will be included in the agenda of the NA plenary session and will again be discussed. At present, the draft law is in line with international standards’.