Brussels, 01 February 2008
On the eve of her visit, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said: "Over a year after we embarked into our joint Action Plans, the relations between the EU and the countries of the Southern Caucasus are growing ever closer. This is my third visit to the region, and I am looking forward to discussing the implementation of our ENP Action plans, energy security, regional issues including the frozen conflicts, as well as international issues. ."
She added: “This time I am particularly happy to open fully-fledged EC Commission Delegations in Armenia and Azerbaijan. This opens a new chapter in our relations with these countries. It is a confirmation of the Commission’s commitment to cooperate closely with the South Caucasus countries, supporting reforms with a view to bringing the whole region closer to Europe”.
The EU Troika visit will provide the opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics with Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian authorities, such as the implementation of the three ENP Action Plans, the situation of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratisation, frozen conflicts, regional cooperation in the Southern Caucasus and energy.
The European Commission contributes to the peaceful settlement of frozen conflicts. The EU is already active in preventing and resolving conflicts. The Commission can make an important contribution by working around the conflict issues, promoting similar reforms on both sides of the boundary lines, to foster convergence between political, economic and legal systems, enabling greater social inclusion and contributing to confidence building and the financing of rehabilitation programmes. The EU is also institutionally involved in conflict settlement mechanisms. The Commission is also an observer to the Joint Control Commission, a conflict settlement mechanism for South Ossetia. However, only individual Member States participate in the Minsk Group (Nagorno-Karabakh) and the UN Friends of Georgia (Abkhazia) peace mechanisms.
The ENP Action Plans in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia were adopted in late 2006. Implementation is supported by the European Community bilateral ENPI assistance to the tune of EUR 92 million in Azerbaijan, EUR 98,4 million in Armenia and EUR 120 million in Georgia over the period 2007-2010, plus assistance initiatives implemented in the context of ENPI Regional and Inter-Regional and EC Thematic Programmes such as the European Instrument for Democratisation and Human Rights – EIDHR.
The main focus of cooperation with Azerbaijan is good governance, socio-economic reforms and energy.
For Armenia the three focal areas of bilateral assistance are support for strengthening of democratic structures, and good governance, support for regulatory reform and administrative capacity building, and support for poverty reduction efforts.
For Georgia the focus is support for democratic development, rule of law and governance, economic development and implementation of the ENP Action Plan, poverty reduction and social reforms, conflict resolution.
From 1991-2004, the EC has allocated over €1.2 billion worth of assistance, with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia receiving approximately an equal share of about €400 million each.
For more information on the EU's relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia: