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Brussels, 9 January 2013
Press statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle following his meeting with Hovik Abrahamyan, President of the Armenian National Assembly
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with Mr. Hovik Abrahamyan, President of the Armenian National Assembly in Brussels today.
The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss how to accelerate the reform and modernisation of Armenia for the benefit of the country and its citizens and how the EU can support those changes.
Commissioner Füle commended the recent developments in EU-Armenia relations, notably the good progress on the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreement and the signature of last December's Visa Facilitation Agreement. The Commissioner expressed the hope that a good track record of its implementation will allow the journey towards visa liberalization to be taken to a next level. The Commissioner also expressed his appreciation for the unilateral lifting of visa requirements by Armenia for EU citizens.
He welcomed progress in the negotiations on an Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. This Agreement is of the utmost importance in moving the EU-Armenia relationship to a higher level. It goes far beyond a normal free trade agreement. Through the Agreement the EU will open up portions of its acquis related to the internal market. But beyond this it encompasses changes that affect citizens in their daily lives in areas like consumer protection, air quality and road safety, offering a protective umbrella of high democratic standards and real guarantees for their rights.
The upcoming Presidential elections were also discussed during the meeting: "Successful – free and fair - elections really matter and are crucial for EU-Armenia relations; without them the continuous reform which we want to see could be undermined. Before the elections next month, further progress is needed in the implementation of the current legislative framework, as recommended by the OSCE/ODIHR, while in parallel the longer-term process of updating electoral legislation for polls in the future should also continue.'' said Commissioner Füle.
Broader regional cooperation was also raised, with an emphasis on the fact that good neighbourly relations are of strategic importance for Armenia, in particular as regards Russia. It is in the EU's interest to see good Armenian-Russian relations; they can in turn benefit also from Armenia's partnership with the EU.
Issues concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process were discussed, including the issue of possible flights to the airport in Nagorno-Karabakh. Commissioner Füle reiterated EU's continued support for the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and their efforts in facilitating a peaceful settlement. He also stressed the need for the sides to seek a diplomatic solution to issues relating to this airport and to avoid any actions that could fuel tensions in the region.