Riga Summit strengthens EU-Armenia relations
During the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit in Riga on 22 May, the EU and the EaP countries have issued a joint declaration that reviewed the EaP achievements so far and mapped out its priorities and goals ahead of the next summit in 2017. Several points of the declaration concern Armenia and its future relations with Europe.
European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA, www.EuFoA.org) welcomes this declaration. “It seems that the EU and Armenia are working together to reach a common understanding on issues of mutual interest, and this gives us hope that the negotiations for a new legal framework between both sides will be launched soon”, comments EuFoA Director Mr Eduardo Lorenzo Ochoa.
On 19 May, the European Commission recommended opening the negotiations, thus paving the way for talks for a new agreement between the EU and Armenia. The Riga declaration welcomes “the common understanding reached on the scope for a future agreement between the EU and Armenia aimed at further developing and strengthening their comprehensive cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.” The declaration lists several areas of intensified cooperation, noting, among others, Armenia’s progress in joining the E5P (Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership).
Regarding mobility agenda, Armenia made progress in the implementation of the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements (VFA/RA). In this regard, the participants of the Summit “look forward to consideration in due course of the opening of a visa dialogue with Armenia, provided that Armenia continues to ensure sustained progress in the full implementation of the VFA/RA.”
Armenia is also due to finalise soon its association with the Horizon 2020 programme, concerning knowledge, innovation and sustainable development. It will also have a possibility to join the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME). Lastly, the participants of the summit “look forward to the launching of negotiations on an EU-Armenia Aviation Agreement at the earliest opportunity.”
“The areas of EU-Armenia cooperation included in the declaration – mobility, innovation, enterprises, competitiveness and aviation – are all going to bring positive and concrete results in Armenia’s development, thus improving the state of EU-Armenia relations”, adds EuFoA Director.
The declaration also included a statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, reiterating “full support to the mediation efforts by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including at the level of Presidents and their statements since 2009.”
In September 2013, Armenia announced its willingness to join the Customs Union, hindering the full initialising of the EU-Armenia Association agreement due to certain incompatibilities with its trade component and the apparent impossibility to initialise only the political part of the agreement. In the meantime, the EU-Armenia relations continued to grow. One of the biggest achievements in this regard is Armenia’s progress in the mobility agenda and participation in EU Agencies and Programmes, which represented the first tangible cooperation step after the Vilnius Summit, granting Armenia access to EU Agencies and Programmes, reserved to date mostly to EU member states. It allows Armenia to reap financial and administrative benefits vital for the country’s modernisation. This decision means that Armenia now has access to the EU world leading initiatives in the fields of culture, education, environment and science, and Armenian civil servants can be integrated into EU agencies such as aviation security, medicine or environment. Armenia is also joining the HORIZON 2020 program, on knowledge, innovation and sustainable development, with 70.2 billion euro budget. It may also be able to take part in other EU programmes, such as LIFE, on environment and climate action, with a 3.29 billion euro budget for the period 2014-2020, or the well-known ERASMUS PLUS.
Armenia has also adopted an Open Skies policy in late 2013, substantially increasing its air traffic with European countries.
About the Riga summit
The fourth Eastern Partnership summit was held in Riga, Latvia, on 21-22 May 2015. It brought together heads of state or government and the representatives from the 28 EU member states with those of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. Armenia was represented by its President, Mr Serzh Sargsyan.
The summit was chaired by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk who, together with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, represented the European Union. The Summit was closed with a joint declaration that reviewed the achievements so far and mapped out the priorities and goals of the EaP with a view towards the next summit.
The summit was hosted by the Prime Minister of Latvia, Laimdota Straujuma. The EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini, the Commissioner Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn and the Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, also attended the summit.
EuFoA is happy to provide commenting or background analysis in English, French, Spanish, Polish, German, Russian and Armenian. Members of the Europe-Armenia Advisory Council may also be available for comments; for enquiries please contact our secretariat.
For more information on EuFoA and the Europe-Armenia Advisory Council, please visit our website at www.EuFoA.org.
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