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The European Commission and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have outlined the major points European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) review, highlighting the EU’s renewed approach to its eastern and southern neighbours. The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Switalski, held a press conference on the reviewed ENP and EU-Armenia relations on 19 November 2015.
The ENP will make stabilisation a main political priority in this mandate. Differentiation and greater mutual ownership will be further key elements of the new ENP. This recognises that all partners aspire to comply with EU rules and standards, and reflects the wishes of each country concerning the nature and scope of its partnership with the EU. The EU will uphold and continue to promote universal values through the ENP, seeking more effective ways to promote democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
ARS_8388Ambassador Piotr Switalski talked about ENP’s priorities: ‘This is my very first press conference since I arrived in Armenia. This occassion marks the presentation of the ENP’s joint communication, which was made yesterday in Brussels by Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn. The EU’s review of the ENP is a result of long process of reflection and consultation. It started at the end of 2014 and the process involved all the relevant actors, including governments, CSOs and regional partners and received more than 250 contributions. The Armenian government made contributions, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs sending a letter in January. Why the review is neccessary is obvious: the European neighbourhood has changed; the situation in the countries has changed; the EU has changed; our challenges have changed. What is new in the document that was presented yesterday? The keyword in the ENP is “stabilisation”. With everything that is happening in different countries, there is no higher priority than stabilisation’.
This review will allow the EU to refocus relations with its neighbours in order to address the political priorities which underpin partnerships. Options will be discussed with partners; these discussions are key to increasing countries’ sense of ownership. The aim is also to involve member states more intensively in the definition and implementation of policy in neighbourhood countries.
The new ENP will introduce some new working methods, including the abolition of the traditional annual package of country reports. Reporting will now be more tailored to the nature and working calendar of each relationship.
In the coming months, the proposals unveiled in the joint communication will be discussed with member states and partner countries to jointly determine new priorities and the shape of future relations.
After presenting the key parts of the ENP review, Ambassador Switalski answered journalists’ questions. EU-funded programmes in Armenia, the negotiations on the new EU-Armenia agreement, the situation in the region and many other important issues were discussed.

Traian Hristea, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, delivered a lecture at the American University of Armenia (AUA) on 27 March 2015. The lecture was organised within the framework of the “Ambassadorial lecture series” with the EU member-states Ambassadors and the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia. These lectures are organised by Dr. Syuzanna Vasilyan, the Chair in Armenia of the Jean Monnet sub-programme in the framework of the EU-funded “Lifelong Learning” programme. The lecture was intended to representatives of the academia, civil society and students.
Ambassador Hristea started his lecture with underlining that the European Union is destined to be a key partner for all countries in their neighbourhood, while defending their right to choose independently their own way forward of sovereign development. “The European Neighbourhood Policy was created to build new partnerships with the EU’s direct neighbours, based on shared values, stability and prosperity. Those fundamental objectives remain as valid today as they were when the ENP was launched more than ten years ago; indeed, they are now more important than ever.
ARS_5449The situation in Europe’s neighbourhood has changed dramatically since the ENP has been in place. Growing challenges to a number of Eastern Partnership countries, from the crisis in Georgia in 2008 to the on-going conflict in Ukraine”.
The ambassador touched also upon important subjects like the crises in Syria and Libya, the complex transition in Egypt and the war that is unfolding in Yemen. As to the EU-Armenia relations the Head of the EU Delegation emphasised that Armenian government and the EU institutions are cooperating together quite well and the input from the civil society will be an invaluable contribution to the ENP review and to the implementation and future development of the Eastern Partnership within a reviewed ENP. He added that the EU would like to continue to strengthen the cooperation with Armenia. EU has been exploring with Armenia the possible scope of future bilateral cooperation bearing in mind Armenia’s other international commitments. EU is prepared to further support Armenia in areas such as good governance, human rights, fighting corruption, reforming the judiciary, implementation of the mobility partnership and the visa facilitation and readmission agreements in force with the EU. The EU will continue supporting the country’s modernisation efforts and will continue encouraging necessary reforms in Armenia.
The EU will also continue to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) Development in Armenia, human rights protection, reforms in electoral system, torture prevention, provide greater protection against discrimination of persons belonging to minorities, people with disabilities and to other vulnerable groups, develop effective gender equality mechanisms and protection of victims of domestic/gender-based violence, and improve child protection system.
“So, in the new ENP the messages will probably remain the same: but we should seek new ways to deliver our messages, and to be heard. We are looking for concrete ideas that will deliver results in the short to medium term, and ones the public can understand. And here we see a crucial role for you, students, representatives of the civil society and academia, in giving this review visibility on the ground in your country and in ensuring that your views on the ENP are fed back to us,”- stated Ambassador.

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.