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On 1 March 2016, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC Federica Mogherini visited Armenia for the first time. The high-level EU official held talks with political leaders and representatives of civil society in Yerevan. Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian was the first Armenian government official to meet her and she had a long and constructive exchange with President Serzh Sargsyan. Due to the importance that the EU attaches to a vibrant civil society, Mogherini also had an extensive and fruitful discussion with NGOs and civil society representatives, as well as with political party representatives from the governing parties and the opposition. Mogehrini and Nalbandian held a joint press conference in the evening of 1st March, which concluded her visit.
ARS_7633During the press conference Mogherini spoke positively about EU-Armenia relations and issues discussed during her visit: ‘This is my first visit to Armenia, which has been a very intensive and comprehensive day. I had good discussions with the president, members of political parties represented in parliament, and Armenian civil society representatives. We have addressed a wide range of issues, starting with the EU-Armenia bilateral agenda.
2015 was an important year for our bilateral relations, marked by joint reflections on the scope for future relations and the launch in December of negotiations on a new EU-Armenia agreement. Today we discussed the state of play and perspectives of these negotiations. I believe we both want to be good partners. Peace, cooperation, and the rule of law are proven to be the best drivers of economic growth, employment and security. Even in these very difficult years, the EU is Armenia’s leading trade partner, as well as its primary foreign investor and first donor; however, it’s not only about money.
Emphasis needs to be placed on democracy, the rule of law, anti-corruption, human rights, fundamental freedoms, etc. We also pay particular attention to the electoral system and the next elections in Armenia. The EU supports the recommendations of the OSCE /ODIHR Referendum Expert Team´s Final report, as well as previous recommendations – these still need to be addressed. Without a transparent investigation, as well as appropriate measures taken, the recent constitutional referendum would be a missed opportunity to increase the confidence and integrity of electoral processes in Armenia.
The EU will continue to support Armenia’s efforts to advance political and social reforms, and the mobility agenda, just as we are very committed to improve the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We also discussed the integration of Syrian refugees. A peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains a priority for the EU. We continue to support the efforts of OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to reach a peaceful settlement based on the Madrid principles and elements, and call for the intensification of high-level talks to advance a peaceful settlement. The EU promotes the OSCE offer to create incident-investigation mechanisms along the conflict line’.
Nalbandian thanked the EU for its continuous support in many areas, including human rights and the rule of law, improvement of governance, fighting corruption, and the strengthening of democratic institutions and civil society: ‘I am very glad to welcome to Yerevan HR/VP Mogherini. A few minutes ago we had a meeting with the Armenian president, in which we discussed various issues regarding cooperation between the EU and Armenia. We also discussed further extending the Armenia-EU cooperation and negotiations on forming a new legal agreement. We have a clear framework and timetable for discussions. We expressed mutual satisfaction with the progress achieved. We reaffirmed Armenia’s readiness to strengthen comprehensive cooperation with the EU in all areas of mutual interest, taking into account our obligations in other integration formats.
ARS_7658We also talked about a number of pressing international and regional problems, exchanging views on the Middle East and the situation in Syria. The importance of mobilising international efforts to combat terrorism was stressed, as was the need to protect minority rights in the region. In this context, we welcomed the UN Security Council’s resolution on a ceasefire in Syria. We discussed the migration crisis and refugee flows. On the agenda was the agreement reached on Iran’s nuclear programme, which opens up wide opportunities for cooperation. We touched upon in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group on recent developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasise with satisfaction that Armenia-EU relations are at a high level and have promising prospects’.

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.