On 23 January 2015 the European Union Delegation to Armenia and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) held a ceremony to launch ENPARD (European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development) Armenia. This programme will be implemented over the next three years, providing €20 million of budget support for the Government of Armenia to enhance agricultural and rural development. Further €5 million will be provided to support the Ministry of Agriculture to promote the development of farmers groups and value adding chains.
H.E. Mr. Sergo Karapetyan, the Minister of Agriculture welcomed participants and expressed gratitude to the European Union and Austrian Development Cooperation for the support within ENPARD program. He expressed confidence that existing problems in the agricultural sector can be addressed effectively through cooperation with EU and other donor states and organizations. Minister has presented recent developments as well as government priorities in the agricultural sector.
“The European Union is delighted to provide substantial financial support to the agricultural sector” noted the Head of the EU Delegation, H.E. Ambassador Traian Hristea. “ENPARD Armenia will be a source of significant opportunities for the government and private citizens to develop and improve agriculture and rural development in Armenia and enhance prospects for the future,” he added.
Gunther Zimmer, ADA Head of Office for South Caucasus noted that “Strengthening producer groups and improving effectiveness of supported value chains in Lori, Shirak and Tavush regions is the primary focus for Austrian Development Cooperation”. He also underlined that “Agriculture is and will continue in the future to be one of the most important parts of ADC’s strategy”. He explained: “Because we strongly believe in the positive impact that our financial assistance, in combination with critical know-how transfer, can bring to rural communities in Northern Armenia”.
The announced support will improve the agricultural institutions, encourage the development of farmers’ associations and improve access to more affordable food. The programme will focus on women, youth and other vulnerable groups. Beneficiaries of the programme are rural communities, producers, producer group members, employees, and their families throughout Armenia. Complementary activities funded by Austria will be implemented in Shirak, Lori and Tavush marzes.
Within the framework of the programme UNIDO, UNDP and FAO will provide technical support to the Government of Armenia in close cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, local authorities and other stakeholders. UNIDO and UNDP will join efforts to strengthen and establish producer groups and engage them effectively in value chain development. FAO will provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture for institutional development and policy support, regarding technical issues to increase productivity, better land management and the roll-out of the national agricultural census.
The proposed support, in line with EU assistance priorities, should contribute directly to achieving the Eastern Partnership key objective of reduction of economic and social disparities. Given the high unemployment and lack of livelihoods and income, poverty levels in Armenia remain high, particularly in rural areas. Thus, agriculture and subsistence farming represent a broad-based opportunity for food security and informal employment. There is a great need for improving agricultural institutions, strengthening capacity and performance of farmers associations and cooperatives, increasing access to more affordable food and supporting the roll-out of a general agricultural census.
15th session of Armenia-European Union Cooperation Council took place in Brussels
On January 20, the 15th session of the Armenia-European Union Cooperation Council took place in Brussels, chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Edward Nalbandian.
EU delegation was headed by Foreign Minister of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs, representing the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn.
The Head of the Armenian Mission to the European Union, Ambassador Tatul Margaryan, First Deputy Minister of Economy Garegin Melkonyan, and Deputy Minister of Justice Arman Tatoyan were in the delegation of Armenia.
During the 15th session of Armenia-European Union Cooperation Council, steps towards further development of Armenia-EU cooperation were thoroughly discussed, i.e. issues on political dialogue, future legal aspects of the relations, mobility partnership, human rights, economic reforms, EU assistance to Armenia.
Minister Nalbandian expressed gratitude to the EU for the assistance and support provided to Armenia over the years, that greatly contributed to the process of implementation of reforms and development of institutional capacities in Armenia, and reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to deepen comprehensive cooperation with the European Union in different areas and directions, on the basis of the achievements reached over recent years, and taking into consideration Armenia’s commitments in other international integration frameworks.
Foreign Minister of Armenia stressed, that the mobility, progress of migration and people-to-people contacts are among top priorities of cooperation with the EU. In this context Minister Nalbandian mentioned that EU-Armenia Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements that entered into force in January 2014 pave the way for the launch of negotiations on the liberalization of the visa regime, that will lead to the elimination of visa regime for the citizens of Armenia in the future.
Edward Nalbandian attached significance to the entering into force of the Protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which enables Armenia to participate in a broad range of EU programs and to cooperate with the EU Agencies.
Regional issues and the ways to their settlement were on the agenda of the Council session.
Upon the request of the European side Edward Nalbandian presented latest developments in the negotiation process for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, the existing situation which is a result of destructive and provocative activities by Azerbaijan.
In their speeches, Armenia’s First Deputy Minister of Economy Garegin Melkonyan and Deputy Minister of Justice Arman Tatoyan briefed about the economic policy of the Government, reforms in judicial system, the results of cooperation in aforementioned areas as of 2014.
The session was followed by a joint press conference of Edward Nalbandian, Edgars Rinkēvičs and Johannes Hahn.