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The EU announced on 25 March 2015 its assessment on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) publishing Progress Reports for 16 partner countries, including Armenia. The European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy issued a press release stating that the EU and Armenia have reconfirmed their commitment to further developing and strengthening cooperation in areas of mutual interest within the Eastern Partnership framework. The EU and Armenia have recently successfully completed their joint scoping exercise for a future legal agreement compatible with Armenia’s new international obligations, after the country became a member of the Eurasian Economic Union. This will enable both sides to launch negotiations on a new EU-Armenia overarching agreement soon, once the respective negotiating mandates have been approved.
Traian Hristea, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, presented the Progress Report for Armenia. Ambassador Hristea stressed that the report on Armenia underlines key main developments and reform efforts in 2014, and makes recommendations for the year to come: ‘In 2014 Armenia advanced on several bilateral agreements: the EU-Armenia visa-facilitation and readmission entered into force in January 2014 and, since March 2014, Armenia can participate in EU programmes and agencies. Armenia continued its democratic transition process, in particular with regard to constitutional reform. Certain human rights issues, fundamental freedoms and rule of law issues, however, still need to be tackled. Armenia has developed legislation in several areas in line with EU rules and standards or international requirements, but this legislation is yet to be adopted and implemented. Reforms have been developed but not put into practice. A lack of trust in the judicial system persisted. The fight against corruption remained a key issue. That said, progress was noted with regard to the right to free legal aid. Armenia continued to implement sound macroeconomic policies, such as poverty-reduction and social-cohesion measures. Economic activity continued to decelerate in 2014. Reforms in tax administration continued. More efforts to diversify the economy are recommendable. The European Commission received Armenia’s stress test on the Medzamor nuclear power plant, which will be reviewed in 2015. This procedure is in line with EU nuclear safety requirements. 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the 1994 ceasefire agreement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; however, the stalemate continues. The security situation on the ground remains a matter of serious concern amid unprecedented incidents and casualties since 1994, as well as rise in confrontational rhetoric and a continued arms race’.
Ambassador Hristea also talked about the Armenia-Turkey relations and the EU’s contribution to the further dialogue between the two countries. Later, he introduced ARS_5364several recommended actions to Armenia for the year to come based on the findings of the Country Progress Report:
– Initiating the amendment of electoral legislation in accordance with OSCE/ODIHR recommendations before the parliamentary elections in 2017;
– Adopting and implementing comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation;
– Investigating cases of attacks on and intimidation of human rights defenders and ensuring effective law enforcement, including in cases relating to the deaths that occurred during the clashes in March 2008, allegations of ill-treatment in police custody, and violation of due process;
– Intensifying reforms to the judiciary and law enforcement, and implementing the related reform agenda;
– Continuing public administration reform, intensifying the prevention of and the fight against corruption;
– Stepping up efforts towards a comprehensive peace settlement in accordance with the commitments undertaken within the Minsk Group;
– Refraining from actions and statements that could heighten tension and undermine the Nagorno-Karabagh peace process;
– Progressing with regulatory approximation to international trade laws and standards in order to diversify Armenian exports with commodities of higher added value.