EU-ARMENIA: NEW CONTEXT BUT SAME RESOLVE TO TAKE PARTNERSHIP FORWARD
EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle has outlined the way forward for EU-Armenia relations in the current new context, confirming the EU’s resolve to keep building the partnership, ENPI Info Centre reports. At the same time, he stressed the role of civil society in the reform process, the need to protect activists against intimidation, and to strengthen fundamental freedoms in the country.
Speaking after the 14th Cooperation Council between Armenia and the European Union in Brussels today, Füle told a press conference: “Compared to previous Cooperation Council there is definitely a difference in the content of our discussions – given the new international commitments of Armenia. But what remains the same, is our desire and resolve to continue to have a close relationship and take it forward, based on what we have achieved so far.”
Füle said the two sides had confirmed the need to revisit the basis for bilateral relations, as well as to update the EU-Armenia European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan to adjust it to the extent and ambitions of future cooperation.
He commended Armenia’s progress on the Mobility Partnership, with the ratification of the Agreements on Visa Facilitation and Readmission completed. “This will enable us to boost people to people contacts, which is an important element of our continued cooperation.”
The Commissioner also welcomed progress on reforms and Armenia’s commitment to continue on this path. “At the same time, we have however encouraged acceleration of the efforts in specific areas, notably Democracy and the Rule of Law, anti-corruption, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and judicial reform.”
“The way forward for EU-Armenia relations in the new context has been outlined. Now we have to start work to make it reality,” Füle said. “Armenia can count on the continued EU support to advance political, economic and social reforms and improve the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Today’s meeting was also an opportunity to underline the role of civil society in the reform process, the Commissioner said. “We have strengthened the cooperation and support for the Civil Society. We hope very much that also their work will be built on what has been achieved in that area in the last 3.5 years. We hope very much that fundamental freedoms, in particular freedom of expression and assembly, will be further strengthened.”
A specific support is going to be provided to the Armenian national platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in order to strengthen its role and monitoring the reform process by building structured dialogue with the government.
“We call on the government to ensure that there is not intimidation of Civil Society representatives, human rights activists, in particular women’s rights activists. And we called on Armenia to investigate some of those cases from the past and make sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice,” Commissioner Füle said.
Source: ENPI Info Centre