European Council President Donald Tusk

EU Vows Stronger Support For ‘Reform Process’ In Armenia


BRUSSELS (RFE/RL) — The European Union welcomes the Armenian government’s ambitious reform agenda and is ready to support it with greater aid, European Council President Donald Tusk said after meeting with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels on Tuesday, March 5.

“I admire your resolve to bring about democratic reforms and economic development which will benefit all Armenians,” Tusk told Pashinyan at a joint news briefing. “The EU will continue to support Armenia’s journey towards becoming a consolidated democracy and creating a better economic future for its citizens.”

“The EU is ready to further support your reform process with enhanced technical and financial assistance,” he said. “We agree with your strong emphasis on the fight against corruption and the rule of law reform.”

Johannes Hahn, the EU commissioner for European neighborhood and enlargement negotiations, said in Yerevan in late January that the EU will provide Yerevan with additional financial assistance already this year in recognition of democratic change in the country. Hahn singled out the proper conduct of the Armenian parliamentary elections held in December.

Neither Hahn nor Tusk specified in their public statements the likely amount of the extra EU aid promised by them.

Visiting Brussels in July, Pashinyan criticized the EU for not boosting its assistance to Armenia following the “velvet revolution” that brought him to power. A senior EU diplomat dismissed the criticism at the time.

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Pashinyan again called for greater EU support for his government’s stated reform effort at the start of his latest trip to Brussels on Monday. “It is obvious that an enhanced assistance of the European Union will help us move forward in a more resolute and decisive way,” he told members of the European Parliament. “The wider the scope of the assistance, the faster and smoother the pace of our reforms will be.”

Speaking after his talks with Tusk, the Armenian leader said: “I highly appreciate the European Union’s technical and financial support to our government’s reform agenda.” He stressed the importance of new EU “initiatives aimed at supporting our efforts to develop institutions and reinforcing our democratic achievements.”

“I am glad that our European friends and partners have a similar approach and vision on our bilateral agenda,” he added.

Pashinyan also urged an “early ratification” by all EU member states of the EU’s Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Armenia signed in 2017.

And he again expressed hope that the 28-nation bloc will lift “in the near future” its visa requirements for Armenian travelling to Europe. “We do hope that the political decision on this matter will be taken shortly,” he said.

Pashinyan also insisted that closer ties with the European Union sought by his government cannot undermine Armenia’s alliance with Russia.

“The good news is that the European Union doesn’t set any geopolitical conditions in its relations with Armenia,” Pashinyan said at the start of a visit to Brussels on Monday. “Our cooperation agenda with the EU is fully [based on a] reform agenda … and we are going to fully implement this reform agenda.”

“I don’t think that there are contradictions between our relationships with the European Union and Russia,” he told members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. “In these two relationships we are transparent. It is very important to insist that there is no plot against Russia in our relations with the European Union and there is no plot against the EU in our cooperation with Russia.”

Pashinyan had strongly criticized Russian-Armenian relations and, in particular, Armenia’s membership in the EEU when he was in opposition to his country’s former government. However, he ruled out major changes in Armenia’s traditional foreign policy orientation immediately after coming to power on a wave of anti-government protests last May.

Addressing EU lawmakers, Pashinyan stressed that there have not been “any changes in our foreign policy strategy” since the “velvet revolution.” “Armenia remains committed to its foreign policy obligations and partners,” he said.


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