Tag Archives: Eastern Partnership

On the initiative of the EU Delegation to Armenia and the Government of the Republic of Armenia, a joint press conference was organised on 26 November to mark the 2nd anniversary of the signing of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Luc Devigne, the Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia and OSCE at the European External Action Service, Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East and Institution Building at the European Commission, who were in Armenia on a working visit and Avet Adonts, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia held a press conference. The EU representatives welcomed Armenia’s commitment to reform and to the implementation of the EU-Armenia Agreement.

“We very much welcome Armenia’s commitment to reforms and to implement CEPA, which we signed 2 years ago. We have been positively impressed by the professionalism and seriousness with which Armenian authorities have taken this Agreement. It’s motivating to see that what we do will deliver benefits for people of Armenia and the EU. CEPA represents modernisation reforms and EU standards in all key areas. We are happy that Armenian civil society is actively monitoring and contributing to CEPA’s implementation. We are looking forward to the next EU-Armenia Partnership Committee meeting on 16 December in Brussels, where the CEPA Implementation Roadmap elaborated by the Armenian Government will be discussed. We are looking forward to continuing our support to Armenia and the Armenian Government’s reform efforts”, said Director Luc Devigne in his speech.

“I would like to highlight three things. Firstly, how does Armenia benefit from CEPA? We strongly believe that this will create new opportunities for people, new jobs and will help to shape an economy that works for all. Secondly, the EU is investing substantially in support of ambitious reforms to make Armenia ready to benefit from the potential of this Agreement. The CEPA Reform Facility will advise the Government on strategic reforms through EU High-Level Advisers and a series of twinning projects. Additionally, CEPA banking facility will support the private sector to adjust to CEPA requirements. Thirdly, why to invest in Armenia? We see an ambitious vision from Armenia in terms of reform. Armenia is a country famous for innovation; we are investing in young people – the future of Armenia is in their bright, hospitable hands”, mentioned Director Lawrence Meredith.

In his opening remarks, the Deputy Foreign Minister Avet Adonts highlighted the importance of CEPA, the ongoing process of its ratification and full implementation. The Deputy Foreign Minister also touched upon the importance of launching of visa liberalization dialogue between Armenia and the EU, as well as the vision of the Republic of Armenia on the future of the Eastern Partnership. The press conference was followed by the inclusive “Stronger Together” fashion show with participation of people with disabilities.

ARS_4924On 29 January Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for EU Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, visited Armenia. During the visit the EU Commissioner met with Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. During the meetings, the parties discussed  EU-Armenia relations, EU assistance to Armenia, the Eastern Partnership (which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year), the implementation of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the necessity of fostering broader regional cooperation, and the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Commissioner Hahn also met with the representatives of civil society and gave a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Mnatsakanyan.

Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner 5During the press conference Commissioner Hahn congratulated the Armenian government on the parliamentary elections held on 9 December 2018: “These elections reflected the people’s will. These were elections accepted by the international community as fair and transparent. Based on them, we must look to the future, which means economic development – we need to have a stronger, more resilient, more democratic society. We have identified some areas where we can focus and make a European contribution, particularly agriculture, technology, judicial reform, education, and others. Our whole cooperation is based on a solid framework. Currently we have projects worth €300 million being implementation and another €100 million allocated for upcoming projects. Additionally, grants and loans have generated over €800 million in investments across various sectors. This will be further enhanced as we are working with the government to identify areas requiring further support. I would like to announce the signature of a €23 million assistance package to Armenia on education and innovation. I am proud to say that we have invested a lot in education and will continue to do so. We are already in the midst of the negotiations concerning the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) within the EU. We are talking about a 7-years budget, 2021-2027. It takes some time but I can already reassure you that support to Neighbours will be in financial terms bigger than the current allocation, and this should have also very positive effect for Armenia”.

ARS_5081Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs thanked Commissioner Hahn for his visit and the quality of dialogue with the EU: “We talked about all issues concerning the current stage of the EU-Armenia agenda. Once again we emphasised the importance we attach to our relations, to those fundamental, main causes and values underpinning the basis of our relations with the European Union. We highlighted the legal foundation of our current relations, CEPA, which remains an essential legal instrument. We evaluated the dynamics of CEPA implementation in Armenia and programmes envisaged for the coming months, so we can efficiently continue the implementation process. We also touched upon how to being visa liberalisation dialogue and the steps we need to take. We also touched upon regional issues, an ongoing process. We have a clear programme of dialogue and contact for the coming months, which we will present more precisely after the dates are fixed. In March we are planning to continue high-level dialogue. This year is going to be very significant, because it marks the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership. Accordingly, a high-level event will be held in Brussels, in May, to mark this important anniversary, which will serve as a platform for our dialogue”.

Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG) is a new initiative within the Eastern Partnership Flagship Initiative on Sustainable Municipal Development, launched during a high level conference, co-organised by CORLEAP and the European Commission, in Yerevan last October.
The M4EG initiative is partly inspired by the EU Covenant of Mayors, an urban climate and energy initiative which brings together local, regional and national authorities voluntarily to implement EU climate and energy objectives. Thanks to its voluntary nature, participatory approach and clear objectives, the Covenant of Mayors has proved very successful in the EaP region.
On 28 April a call for proposals for the new EU-funded “Mayors for Economic Growth Pioneers Projects” (M4EG) was launched. This multi-country call for proposals contributes to the achievement of the objectives of the new EU-funded Mayors for Economic Growth initiative supporting cities in the Eastern Partnership region Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The initiative aims at strengthening local authorities’ capacity to implement smart local economic development through enhanced local governance, better planning and more efficient municipal management. Through the initiative, the joining cities should develop and implement Local Economic Development Plans, receiving technical assistance and scientific support from the EU. The champions will receive grant support to implement pilot projects included in cities’ Local Economic Development Plans. The budget for Lot 1 announced for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, or Moldova is to the amount of €5 million.

ARS_4191Hoa-Binh Adjemian, the Head of Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, announced the launch of the call for proposals: ‘On the behalf of the EU Ambassador to Armenia, Piotr Świtalski, I would like to reconfirm EU support to local authorities as actors for change, as enablers of ensuring balance. The EU has been working closely with local authorities in the regions, and will continue to do so. This project complements what the EU is already doing in Armenia, which is supporting different spheres in the regions’.

ARS_4177Vache Terteryan, the Armenian First Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Development, highlighted the importance of the initiative during the current economic crisis: ‘M4EG will enable community representatives to think of new ways of cooperation to bring about economic improvement. I am sure that, together with other EU initiatives and projects, M4EG will be a good opportunity for local communities and provide additional resources to solve problems’.

On 17 November, Yerevan hosted  the 8th Eastern Partnership (EaP) Informal Ministerial Dialogue. Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations and Carlos Moedas, the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, were in Armenia to take part in the event. The meeting focused on strengthening the cooperation of the EaP countries with the European Union in science and innovation and prospects for multilateral cooperation.

2A session on research, science and innovation was hosted by Levon Mkrtchyan, the Armenian Minister of Education and Science. During the session, Commissioners Hahn and Moedas launched the #EU4Innovation initiative for EaP countries. This initiative focuses EU support on reinforcing EaP countries’ capacities for innovation, especially those funded through HORIZON2020 or the European Neighbourhood Instrument.

The meeting was held during an extremely important time for Armenia as the agreement associating Armenia to HORIZON2020 entered into force on 12 November 2016. This agreement allows researchers and innovators from Armenia to have full access to HORIZON2020, the EU’s research and innovation funding programme, under the same conditions as their counterparts from EU member states and other associated countries.
Same day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia hosted foreign ministers of EaP countries, which was also attended by Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations and  Jean-Christophe Belliard, the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service.During these discussions, ministers discussed developments and achievements following the Riga summit and expressed their expectations of the upcoming summit in 2017.

3This meeting was followed by a press conference. Hahn noted the constructive and open nature of discussions: ‘This is the 8th time that we have gathered in this format – and we have many other  opportunities to meet. This meeting has allowed us to review EaP implementation. There are a lot of agreements, but it’s time to implement and to make things visible for citizens. That’s why, during the summit in Riga, we decided to group different topics into in four areas to be more visible. The first is, of course, extensive support to EaP countries; we believe that economic development is crucial for increasing welfare, prosperity and stable business in the region. The aim of the next couple of years is to support more than 10,000 SMEs – they are the backbone of the economy. We will not only support existing SMEs, but also promote conditions to enable start-ups to thrive’.

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On 7 October a working meeting on the “Promotion of SMEs’ competitiveness in Eastern Partner countries: Armenia” project took place in Yerevan. The Head of Political Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Dirk Lorenz, and the Armenian First Deputy Minister of Economy, Garegin Melkonyan, and the Head of the “Eurasia” competitiveness project, Gregory Lecomte, participated in the event.

Armenia was included in the reform research programme of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) “Eurasian Competitiveness” project in December 2013. This involved research on raising competitiveness in the local economy and now, under the new stage of the project, two working groups studying possible reforms.

Participants at the meeting discussed the work being carried out by the two working groups and the reports they had written. Additionally, further perspectives for development were explored.

On 26-27 November, the second roundtable on the “Eurasian Competitiveness” project will take place. Armenia will be represented by its Ministry of Economy. The rountable will synthesise current results, and examine the research undertaken. Independent experts will evaluate the results achieved and determine future plans. The implementation stage of the “Promotion of SMEs’ competitiveness in the Eastern Partner countries: Armenia” project will be launched in early 2015.

The project is implemented by OECD with the support of German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ), and funded by the European Union. Several experts from EU Member States (Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic) have already visited Armenia to provide consultancy.