By Ani Mejlumyan
YEREVAN (Eurasianet.org) — The European Union has offered Armenia an aid package of over $3 billion, 62 percent more than previously promised, in the wake of fair elections and as the country tries to recover from defeat in the war with Azerbaijan last year.
The new aid package will total 2.6 billion euros over five years, or $3.1 billion, EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi announced in Yerevan on July 9. That’s 1 billion more euros than the EU had offered in an earlier draft proposal.
The aid is part of a package for the EU’s six post-Soviet Eastern Partnership countries, though Armenia’s share far outweighs what many other countries will receive. Ukraine —with a population of 44 million compared to fewer than 3 million in Armenia — and which has signed an Association Agreement with the EU, is getting 1.9 billion euros. Azerbaijan is getting 140 million euros.
Armenian officials have interpreted the big aid package as a reward for the successfully conducted elections on June 20, in which incumbent Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan won a resounding victory. The post-election violence that many feared did not come to pass, and the political crisis that has gripped the country since the war defeat has simmered down.
Meeting with Varhelyi, Pashinyan said he regarded the aid as a “reaction to irreversible democratic processes taking place in Armenia.” He pointed out that European observers deemed the parliamentary elections to be “competitive and generally well-managed.”