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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.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, arrived in Armenia on a regional visit on 20 July, 2015. During his stay in Armenia he visited the “Memorial to the Armenian Genocide victims” and “Armenian Genocide Museum Institute”.
ARS_2686Later on the same day he had a meeting with the Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan. The parties discussed a wide range of issues related to the strengthening and deepening of bilateral cooperation. Reiterating their commitment to continue the joint efforts in the fields of human rights, democracy, rule of law, public administration and a number of other spheres, the interlocutors discussed the progress in the talks on the new framework agreement between the EU and Armenia, looked at ways of promoting free communication and movement of citizens, reviewed the ongoing negotiations over a common aviation area with the EU and further more.
Both sides expressed confidence that the new framework agreement between the EU and Armenia will help to boost bilateral relations and develop a multifaceted cooperation.
“As President of the European Council, I am convinced that Armenia is an important partner in the region and the EU is ready to reinvigorate interaction in the wake of the Riga summit. We will help you push ahead with your reform agenda which is quite ambitious. I am confident that it will take effect owing to your personal commitment,” Donald Tusk noted.
ARS_2925“The EU has been and remains a major partner of Armenia due to the fact that our cooperation is first and foremost underpinned by shared values. Armenia is ready to continue cooperating with the EU in a bid to promote reforms, efficient governance, democracy, human rights, as well as to boost economic exchanges and cooperate in other fields of mutual interest,” the Prime Minister said.
After his meeting with Prime Minister Donald Tusk and the delegation led by him met with the Armenian President. After bilateral negotiations EC president and Armenian president held a joint press conference.
In his speech Donald Tusk talked about the EU-Armenia relations and regional issues. “Firstly, I would like to thank you for the possibility of visiting the Genocide Memorial. This was my second visit, and was as moved as during my first visit. We have had a good discussion on a wide range of issues; on EU-Armenia relations, the Eastern Partnership and wider regional issues. We discussed the situation regarding Nagorno-Karabakh. Recent negative trends are a cause for concern. The peaceful resolution of this conflict remains a priority for the European Union. The European Union supports the negotiations aimed at settling the conflict led by the OSCE Minsk Group.
ARS_3154Armenia has chosen not to make use of the European Union’s offer of an Association Agreement including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. This is a choice that the European Union fully respects. We still stand ready to deepen our relations by working together to open markets and by advancing on democratic reforms, economic growth, regional integration, a better business-investment climate, and sustainable development. We have just successfully completed the first stage of discussions on a new, comprehensive bilateral agreement. In this agreement we have identified areas for future cooperation. One important area in our cooperation is to make it easier to travel between Armenia and the European Union. Armenia can count on the European Union’s continued support to advance on a whole range of political and social reforms, and to improve the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The European Union supports the work of civil society in Armenia and I encourage a closer involvement of the civil society in the reform process to broaden the perspective and ensure common ownership. This year is decisive for our relations”.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan expressed his satisfaction with the talks that they had. “We are keen on broadening relations with the European Union, one of our key partners, during Mr. Tusk’s tenure, which, I am sure will contribute to the long-lasting constructive dialogue existing between us. We stated that Armenia-European Union relations keep on developing dynamically. This bears testimony to the fact that there are a mutual political will and commitment, and, most importantly, a set of shared values that underlie our development path. I am confident that we will continue to intensify our relations and work towards further deepening of democratic processes and reforms in Armenia. This is illustrated both by our active collaboration with European countries at a bilateral level, and by the ongoing work with different EU institutions. Touching upon the results of the fourth Eastern Partnership Summit held from 21 to 22 May this year, we expressed satisfaction with the fact that in Riga, we managed to confirm our commitment to promoting mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and partner countries based on a differentiated approach. I am hopeful that in the near future we will start negotiations on a new EU-Armenia legal document the successful end of which will open a new chapter in our bilateral relations”.
After their speeches high ranking officials responded to the journalists’ questions. Most of the journalists were interested in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and EU-Armenia new bilateral agreement.