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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Tigran Sargsyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia
Brussels, 15 March 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It was a pleasure to receive Prime Minister Sargsyan in Brussels today. I would like to thank him for his visit. Not only we had a very good meeting, but he is engaging in very in-depth contact with several Members of the Commission.
The relations between Armenia and the European Union are on the move. We discussed a range of these positive developments today.
We are particularly pleased with the very good progress in the negotiations on the future Association Agreement.
This ambitious treaty will bring our political and economic relationship to a new level and draw Armenia closer to the European Union. It will in particular include the negotiation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, which will deepen Armenia’s economic integration with the European Union.
I have therefore encouraged Prime Minister Sargsyan to intensify Armenia's efforts in the area of trade-related reforms. We need to see further progress on the institutional and administrative capacity and also in regulatory approximation, before we can launch negotiations on this free-trade area.
After discussing the issue with the Prime Minister, I now understand that our Armenian friends believe that these reforms are also a priority for Armenia.
It is in Armenia's own interest. They are crucial for a better business and investment climate.
I would like to congratulate the Prime Minister for his personal commitment in this process of reforms. The Commission is also assisting Armenia with all the relevant support to meet the conditions, in particular through an institution-building programme and an Advisory Group. I have now discussed in concrete terms our commitment to go further in this work. In fact Commissioner Füle will work with the Armenian authorities to see what we can do more concretely in this area.
In this context, it is of course important that Armenia fully respects its WTO commitments and this is as important as is the need to deepen relations to make progress on democratic reforms.
Our shared commitment to common values – democracy, human rights and the rule of law – is a key part of our relationship and the foundation of an enhanced cooperation under the Eastern Partnership.
I particularly pointed to the importance of enhanced media pluralism in Armenia and also the improvement of the electoral conduct. Both issues will be critical in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in spring 2012. The EU already provides financial and technical support to these reform efforts.
Enhancing mobility with our partner countries also remains an important goal of the Eastern Partnership and of our relations with Armenia in particular.
I am therefore pleased to announce that we will start negotiations on Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements in the near future. This will make it easier for Armenians to travel to the EU, and promote contacts in all areas.
We also briefly discussed regional issues. I stressed the EU's continued, strong commitment to promote peace, stability and reforms in our shared neighbourhood, especially through the solution of protracted conflicts.
I have affirmed in clear terms that the European Union supports a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the principles of non-use of force, territorial integrity and the self-determination of peoples. The status quo is not an option.
We remain seriously concerned about continuing armed incidents at the Line of Contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and the ongoing militarisation in the region.
The persistence of this conflict remains a major impediment to development in the region. The European Union lends its full support to the OSCE Minsk Group and will continue to promote regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations through the multilateral track of the Eastern Partnership.
Finally, let me say that the European Union continues to support the Armenian-Turkish normalisation strongly. We encourage both countries to stay committed to this historical process. I am confident that there will be new possibilities for dialogue in the future.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The scope and quality of our discussions showed how positively our relations are evolving.
I would like to thank Prime Minister Sargsyan again for these fruitful talks. I look forward to continuing my cooperation Armenia and with you, Mister Prime Minister.