Brussels, 17 December 2012 13th EU – Armenia Cooperation Council
European Council - PRES/12/540 17/12/2012
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The Cooperation Council between the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Armenia held its thirteenth meeting on Monday 17 December 2012. The EU was represented by Dr Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, acting as Chair of the Cooperation Council on behalf of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy. The Armenian delegation was led by Mr Edward Nalbandian, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia.
This meeting took place in a very intensive year for bilateral relations, including visits to Armenia by the President of the European Council Van Rompuy, President of the European Commission Barroso and Commissioner Füle, and a visit by President Sargsyan to Brussels earlier this year.
The Cooperation Council reviewed progress on the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The EU reaffirmed that the status quo is unacceptable and that the solution of this conflict remained a top priority. Both sides reiterated their support to efforts deployed by the OSCE Minsk Group. The Cooperation Council reviewed progress on the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The EU confirmed its complementary role in support of confidence building measures. The EU also expressed concern on incidents at the frontlines. The EU urged both sides to maintain stability on the ground and to refrain from aggressive, belligerent statements and actions that would increase tension.
The Cooperation Council underlined the need to remain focused on implementation of reforms, in parallel to the negotiations of the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. The sides agreed to start soon the negotiations of an Association Agenda, intended to replace the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan and to prepare for the future implementation of the Association Agreement.
The European Union encouraged Armenia to conduct fair and transparent presidential elections in February 2013, addressing OSCE/ODIHR recommendations presented following the May 2012 parliamentary elections.
The EU welcomed progress so far in the area of democratic governance and human rights, and encouraged further efforts by Armenia to address outstanding issues, including independence of the judiciary and corruption.
The signature ceremony for two agreements took place before the Cooperation Council. The first was the Visa Facilitation Agreement, which together with Readmission Agreement (to be signed at a later stage and enter into force simultaneously) will be a first step to creating conditions for secure and well managed mobility, including a visa-free regime in due course. The second was a Protocol to the EU-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement: this protocol concerns participation by Armenia in EU programmes, and will create a legal basis for the Armenian institutions to benefit from closer contacts with its EU counterparts.