EU-Armenia cooperation perspectives
International conference on “EU-Armenia cooperation: perspective in the actual political environment”, took place on 25 February 2015 at the Congress Hotel in Yerevan as a joint effort of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Armenian National Platform and EU Delegation to Armenia.
During the conference, the Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Traian Hristea, and representatives of the Armenian authorities discussed perspectives on EU-Armenia bilateral cooperation and the role of the civil society in it. ‘This is an important and decisive year for EU-Armenia relations, marked by joint commitment and efforts to identify the scope for bilateral relations and their potential future, particularly with regard to their legal basis. Despite Armenia’s decision in September 2013 not to sign the Association Agreement/DCFTA with the EU but rather join the Eurasian Economic Union, the EU remains committed to further engagement with Armenia, and the strengthening of bilateral cooperation within the Eastern Partnership, in all areas compatible with Armenia’s more recent policy choices,’ stated Hristea. He went on to say that possible future cooperation would be clarified at the Eastern Partnership summit in May in Riga: ‘The EU is acknowledging the role of civil society in discourse on EU-Armenia relations, and we aim to foster civil society participation in shaping the future of EU-Armenia cooperation. With that in mind, this conference needs to be seen as a platform for encouraging structural dialogue and as an exchange of perspectives and concerns between representatives of civil society and the Armenian authorities on the EU-Armenia cooperation agenda’.
The Armenian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed the importance of the role of civil society in Armenia’s internal and foreign policy: ‘We notice that the role of civil society institutions is getting stronger in EU-Armenia relations, there are many meetings, conferences, and fora held by civil society representatives. I would like to underline that the Armenian government appreciates the role of civil society in EU initiatives, as well as in national reforms. EU cooperation is important for Armenia and we are currently negotiating the introduction of another component in EU-Armenia relations on commercial cooperation’.
In March the Euronest parliamentary assembly forum will take place in Armenia for the first time. Euronest is a parliamentary forum which promotes political association and further economic integration between the European Union and the Eastern European Partners. Euronest contributes to the strengthening, development and visibility of the Eastern Partnership as the institution responsible for parliamentary consultation, supervision and monitoring. Artak Zakaryan, Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the Armenian National Assembly, introduced upcoming events within the framework of the Euronest forum: ‘The Euronest agenda includes presentations of 4 reports and discussions on the main message concerning the Eastern Partnership at the Riga summit. The reports will be discussed in the 4 permanent committees, each of them presenting one report. We are expecting lively debates’.
After the speeches, four sessions were held and presentations were made by civil society experts, conference participants and journalists had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the situation of civil society in Armenia. Taking into consideration the important role of civil society in the reform process, the EU Delegation and the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum welcomes the active participation of civil society representatives in defining the challenges surrounding Eastern Partnership processes and strengthening democratic processes in Armenia.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has reacted with “indignation and deep sadness”at the murder of Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, killed just before a demonstration against the effects of the economic crisis and the conflict in Ukraine which he was organising for 1 March.
“Boris Nemtsov was a strong advocate for modern, prosperous and democratic Russian Federation,” she said in a statement, adding: “The EU expects the Russian authorities to conduct a full, rapid and transparent investigation into this assassination, bringing the culprits swiftly to justice.” (EU Neighbourhood Info)