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Simplified procedures, reduced waiting times, modern infrastructure and equipment, improved security – these are only a few of the many advantages that the new border-crossing point (BCP) in Bagratashen will provide to ordinary citizens of Armenia and tourists travelling from Armenia to Georgia.
14937437_1149055855148342_5298925730231118127_nThe official opening of the newly constructed Bagratashen border checkpoint took place on 4 November 2016, attended by a variety of representatives from state border management bodies, international organisations, and members of the diplomatic corps and media. Key attendees included Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, a delegation headed by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Head of Cooperation Section of the European Union Delegation in Armenia Hoa-Binh Adjemian and Head of the Regional Representation of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in the South Caucasus Sebastiaen Husson de Sampigny, UN Permanent Coordinator in Armenia and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Permanent Representative in Armenia Bradley Busetto. This ceremony was organised through the EU-funded and UNDP-implemented “Modernisation of Bagratashen, Bavra and Gogavan Border Crossing Points of Armenia” (MBBG) project. After the opening, participants toured the facility.
The main objective of this EU-supported MBBG project has been to promote free movement of people and goods across the border, ensuring border security, improving bilateral and regional cooperation, and modernising the three checkpoints at Bagratashen, Bavra and Gogavan. This modernisation has been in accordance with the requirements of Armenian law, international standards and principles, as well as the principles of comprehensive border administration.
14947825_1149054925148435_7735196230274237844_nAdjemian spoke about EU border-management projects: ‘The European Union funds numerous inter-related programmes at all Armenian border posts with Georgia and Iran. We support the creation of an e-governance single window, finance physical and IT infrastructure, provide training, and ensure best practice exchange. Today, we are witnessing the impact of the European Union’s cooperation efforts in Bagratashen. Armenian citizens can now cross this border point in a faster, more secure and more efficient manner. Trade has been facilitated and will support further economic and social development, thus benefiting Armenian citizens and the entire region’.
De Sampigny commented on the EIB’s involvement in infrastructure in the region: ‘EIB supports, as the EU bank, the Armenian government’s key priority of fostering the development of crossing points between Armenia and Georgia, such as Bagratashen, to comply with increased demand for smoother flows of people, vehicles and goods in terms of quality and capacity. This new, modern infrastructure will have positive implications in the standards of everyday life of citizens, will increase security, and will improve trade across the whole region’.
BCP modernisation is expected to raise the living standards of local populations in the shorter term, i.e. through jobs created by construction, and also in the longer term, i.e. jobs to permanently man the checkpoints and other cross-border economic activities. BCP modernisation will also address additional issues surrounding communication and transportation.

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Potential gains from updated BCPs are not limited to business alone. The ability to move across borders freely and easily, and to engage in small-scale cross-border trade is vitally important to local border communities, increasing livelihood opportunities and access to services. The EU and UNDP have worked together to ensure modern and streamlined procedures and trained 700 border officials in search techniques, profiling, dealing with refugees, and fighting drug trafficking.
The EU’s affiliate European Investment Bank (EIB) has extended a 30.8 million Euro loan to the Government of Armenia for financing of the project, which was complemented by a 17.6 million Euro grant from the European Union.

Integrated border management is vital for the expansion of Armenia’s economic, trade, and cultural ties with the countries of the region. It also can manage and control the flow of travellers efficiently while protecting their rights fully. The European Union is supporting Armenia to modernise northern border crossings in Bagratashen, Bavra and Gogavan, as well as to renovate nearby roads. Now it’s time to move to the Southern border of Armenia and modernise border crossings with Iran.
On 3 October 2016, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a project cooperation agreement to implement the “Support to Migration and Border Management in Armenia (MIBMA)” project. MIMBA is fully funded by the European Union.
ars_5217‘The EU wants Armenia to be better connected to the outside world for many reasons, not just economically or culturally, but also politically. A more prosperous Armenia, and indeed EU, is one connected to its neighbours. This project involves a non-Eastern partnership country, Iran. After investing in northern Armenia we now believe that, with current political developments, it’s important to move south, improve the border crossings in Meghri, and increase traffic between Armenia and Iran. We believe that this is a good opportunity not only for Armenia, but also for Iran’, – highlighted Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski.
Bradley Busetto, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia, reinforced UNDP’s commitment to regional connectivity: ‘UNDP has worked extensively on infrastructure upgrades, on sharing knowledge and expertise in transparency, accountability and integrity, as well as in trade facilitation. Together with our partners, we will build on these results and continue supporting Armenia’s efforts in this area’.
The overall budget of the 3-year MIBMA project is approximately €4 million. UNDP, as a project partner will lead the implementation of the border management component with a price tag of EUR 880,000 to be spent before the end of 2017.