Jose Barroso: EU expects Armenian elections to meet international standards - Mediamax.am

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Jose Barroso: EU expects Armenian elections to meet international standards

Jose Manuel Barroso
Jose Manuel Barroso

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Mediamax’s exclusive interview with the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso

President of the European Commission will visit Yerevan November 30 to take part in the Eastern Partnership Summit of the European People’s Party (EPP). On the eve of the visit he gave an interview to Mediamax.

- Armenian officials say that a big progress was made in Armenia-EU relations during 2012. Do you share this view? What is the main achievement and what still needs to be done?

 

- EU-Armenia relations further intensified in 2012. Good progress was made in the negotiations on an Association Agreement, which will provide for Armenia’s political association and economic integration with the EU. In that framework, since the start in July, 3 negotiating rounds have taken place on a future Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. This agreement has the potential to increase Armenian exports to the EU by 30%. By the time of the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit in November 2013, we hope to be near to the completion of both sets of negotiations.

 

In February 2012, we started negotiations on a Visa Facilitation Agreement and a Readmission Agreement. In record time, the negotiations were completed and the agreements were initialled in October. We expect both agreements to come into force, in parallel, by mid-2013. Together with the announced abolition of short-stay visas for EU and Schengen zone citizens by Armenia, this will boost mutual mobility. On a different issue, let me also mention that Armenia received an extra € 15 million in assistance on the basis of the EU's "more for more" policy that encourages reform.

 

- You are visiting Armenia 2,5 months before the Presidential Elections. What is your expectation from the elections and how important is their conduct for the future of Armenia-EU relations?

 

- The EU expects elections to be conducted according to international standards. We fully support the OSCE ODIHR recommendations, made after the parliamentary elections, on improving election procedures and their implementation. These recommendations should be implemented as soon as possible. Our policy is, as you know, based on the "more for more" principle: the deeper the reform, the more the EU can and will help.

 

- Armenian Government and the European Commission are discussing the Donors Conference for Armenia. Is this Conference linked to the elections and their compatibility with the international standards?

 

- The EU stands ready to help Armenia organise a donor conference in conjunction with  other international donor organisations. Clearly, Armenia has to do the main preparatory work, with a view to ensuring that the outcome of the conference is fully in line with Armenia’s aspirations. If the preparations are of a high standard and EU-Armenia relations continue to evolve in a positive direction, then we can support the organisation of the conference.

 

- EU always calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to look for compromises. Azerbaijani President publicly stated last this week that “Armenia as a country is of no value”, “Armenia is actually a colony”, “Armenia is an outpost run from abroad”. Don’t you think that such statements are making Armenia less motivated to look for possible compromises?

 

- It is in Armenia's own best interest to strive for a comprise on Nagorno Karabakh. The same is true for Azerbaijan. This conflict should be solved in a peaceful way. Renewed conflict would seriously harm all parties involved.The EU has a strong interest in a stable neighbourhood; this is the raison d'etre of our European Neighbourhood and Eastern Partnership policies. The EU actively supports the mediation process of the OSCE Minsk Group, we have important assistance projects to build confidence between the parties to the conflict, while the efforts of our EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the conflict in Georgia, Ambassador Lefort, fully support the efforts of the Minsk Group in a complementary way.

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