European Commission – Press release
The Commission proposes to open negotiations on Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements with Armenia
Brussels, 19 September 2011
Today the Commission proposed to open negotiations on agreements to facilitate the procedures for issuing short-stay visas as well as on the readmission of irregular migrants between the European Union and Armenia.
“Easier access to visas will improve cooperation and exchanges between the EU and Armenia. Visa facilitation and readmission agreements are very tangible results of the Eastern Partnership and I know how much this means to the citizens of these countries”, said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
“The human dimension of the Eastern Partnership is one of its most important ones. Fostering mobility and people-to-people contacts through visa facilitation is fundamental in order to promote social and economic development and mutual understanding between the people. The proposals to open negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Armenia are an important step in this direction”, said Štefan Füle Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy.
The Commission proposes to open negotiations on a visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Armenia. The agreements will be based on reciprocity and provide visa facilitations for Armenian citizens. The list of suggested visa facilitations include the simplification of documentary evidence to be submitted in support of the visa application, the possibility of issuing multiple-entry visas with a long period of validity, the waiving/reducing of the handling fees for specific categories of travellers, set deadlines for processing visa applications, as well as a possible exemption from the visa obligation for holders of diplomatic passports.
At the same time, the Commission proposes to combine the easing of visa requirements for travellers from Armenia with agreed mechanisms for the readmission of irregular migrants. The negotiation of readmission agreements will provide for the speedy return of nationals staying without authorisation on the territory of the EU or Armenia.
The visa facilitation and readmission negotiations with Armenia follow the political commitment taken at the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit in May 2009 regarding the improvement of people–to people contacts. This approach was reaffirmed more recently by the Eastern Partnership Foreign Ministers’ conclusions in December 2010. Once negotiated, the agreements on visa facilitation and readmission can only enter into force simultaneously.
EU, Armenia Set To Further Relations Under Updated European Neighborhood Policy
Brussels, 20 September 2011
On September 19 on the sidelines of his working visit to Brussels, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan met with European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle at EC headquarters.
The parties discussed questions concerning Armenia reforms and the status of joint programs. The Prime Minister presented a new package of reforms consisting of actions in 33 different directions to boost our country’s efforts under the European Neighborhood Policy Program.
After the meeting, Tigran Sargsyan and Stefan Füle gave a joint press conference the shorthand report of which is provided below.
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle – We were pleased to state that the talks proceeded intensively for the last one year and it has the proved reason. Both sides adhere to the performance of the obligations assumed, to further expansion of cooperation.
We feel that intensive contacts may be conducive to improved reform agenda. We appreciateArmenia’s progress in terms of the association agreement-related talks and preparations for the deep and comprehensive free trade agreement, in particular.
I am glad to state that the European Commission has decided to start talks on eased visa requirements with Armenia and the readmission arrangement. The EU advisory team will continue assisting Armenian authorities with their key association agreement-related efforts. We stand ready to support your country with its ambitious reform action and have already redoubled the amount of assistance. Armenia has still much to do in this area, and I call on your country to keep on endeavoring based on its current achievements.
We had fruitful talks today: both the EU and Armenia are prepared to further relations under the updated European Neighborhood Policy.
The planned Eastern Partnership Summit of Warsaw will serve as a focal point where the Program of Eastern Partnership will be re-approved to bring participant nations closer to the European Unon.
Republic of Armenia Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan – I wish to thank Stefan Füle for important and useful talks at which we exchanged views on program performance and presented a new reform agenda consisting of actions in 33 different directions to boost our country’s efforts under the European Neighborhood Policy Program.
We are grateful to our European partners who have described as positive those steps implemented by the Government of Armenia for the last few months. Also, we appreciate the aforementioned EU decision to step up assistance for the new package of reforms.
We have expressed conviction that our country will be able to comply with the obligations assumed before the European Union. We are likewise convinced that the news of the launch of deep and comprehensive free trade agreement-related talks will not keep us waiting for a long time.
Question – I am addressing Mr. Füle. We have heard Armenian officials often stating that the EC should adhere to the more for more principle. How much is this approach acceptable to you?
Stefan Füle – Should Armenia continue doing a good work in the target areas, it will unequivocally meet those European Neighborhood Policy principles specified by you. The deeper Armenia will go into reforms, the more reform assistance it will get from the EU. The more for more principle concerns all our neighbors.
The Prime Minister of Armenia submitted today the new agenda of Armenian reforms. We have agreed upon the further steps in line with the arrangements made by the President of the Republic of Armenia and the Chairman of the European Commission. It is crucial for us to inform the people of Armenia that what we are doing is in their best interest.
If we look at the revised European neighborhood policy program as updated by EC vice-chair Catherine Ashton we can see that it features new principles implying specific tools for further action.
We are going to announce a new set of 2-year programs referred to as “Assistance for partner reforms and inclusive growth” for EPP-participant States under which they will get extra funds over the next couple of years. Deeper performing nations shall be eligible for greater support from the European Union.
Armenia will be better poised for getting more assistance for deeper reforms, if it maintains the stated reform momentum.