05, 2010

Joint briefing of the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso

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President Sargsyan’s statement for the press

Mr. President, I am happy for this opportunity to meet you once again and to discuss issues of mutual concern. We highly appreciate the special role of the European Commission in the development of the Armenia-EU relations.

Today, we held an interested and comprehensive discussion with Mr. Barroso regarding Armenia-EU cooperation. I would like to note with satisfaction that our approaches on all items of our agenda concur. We pledged to take steps to enhance our cooperation.

Armenia attaches great importance to the deepening of our relations with the European Union, particularly in the framework of Eastern Partnership which commenced in May, 2009. It opened new perspectives for the establishment of a more inclusive cooperation based on the agreements, including the Association agreement and the prospects of creation of a free trade zone with EU. In this regard, I welcome the approval on May 10 by the European Union of the mandate to start negotiations with Armenia on the Association agreement. The Agreement elevates the Armenia-EU relations on a qualitatively new level. We are hopeful that the negotiations will commence shortly and we are getting ready; Armenia is eager to work on a draft agreement.

We have highlighted the importance of moving forward with the visa facilitation
process. It will enhance human contacts, making Europe much more comprehensible for the citizens of Armenia. I have also expressed gratitude to the European Union for the assistance in conducting reforms in the areas of economy, good governance, democracy, human rights, rule of law and almost all other areas of social life. With this regard, I would like to recognize the activities of the EU expert group in Armenia - it has been a successful and exemplary undertaking.

During the first tenure of Mr. Barroso as the President of the European Commission, relations between Armenia and EU advanced substantially, and I am confident that very soon we will be able again to register considerable progress through a constructive dialogue.

We have also touched upon a number of regional issues, including the NK peace process. I have presented to Mr. Barroso the situation on the ground and the current stage of the process. Armenia believes that serious and persistent work needs to be done in the negotiations conducted in the framework of the Minsk Group, which requires the parties to display political will, determination and ability to make tough decisions.

Armenia does not believe that staging spectacles regarding isolated episodes of the peace process in different quarters of the world rather than working at the right place and in the right format is a very sensible thing to do. Armenia also believes that a real breakthrough in the negotiations can be achieved through the participation in the negotiations and increased role of the legitimate authorities of Nagorno Karabakh. Particularly, in the light of the fact that last Sunday Karabakh held parliamentary elections and the assessment of numerous observers from many countries of the world proves once again that during these years the people of Nagorno Karabakh were able to create a truly democratic state which is able to maintain civilized relations with all its neighbors.

And finally, Armenia does not believe that in the presence of the established mechanism for negotiations the tactics of inviting “tough guys” to bully Armenia is helpful in any way. Moreover, we believe that this way Turkey not only fails to assist Azerbaijan but also day by day diminishes its own prospects to have a constructive role in the region.

Statement of the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso for the press

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We have had a very constructive meeting with the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan. I am happy to welcome him once again in Brussels. This is yet another opportunity for me to reiterate that we remain committed to the principles of stability and democracy in Armenia and are ready to deepen our bilateral cooperation, including the financial and technical assistance of the EU aimed at the implementation of the reforms in Armenia. Since President Sargsyan’s visit in November 2008, we observe positive developments in our relations. The recent decision to start negotiations regarding the EU-Armenia association agreement testifies to the fact. I have informed President Sargsyan that the Commission is ready to start the negotiations as soon as July of this year. Negotiations regarding a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement will be an importance component of the talks. They will be started only when Armenia will have implemented all the proposals of the Commission made last June regarding Armenia’s foreign trade. I am confident that Armenia will intensify her efforts on this direction, improve the investment climate, which will in turn create new jobs and trigger economic growth. I mentioned it in my remarks and the President of Armenia also underscored that these reforms are in the interests of Armenia, regardless of the negotiations with the EU they are in the interests of Armenia.

We have also discussed the process of visa facilitation. I completely understand the importance of free movement for Armenia. The Commission is ready to negotiate over this issue, however Armenia will have to conduct technical negotiations with the EU members-states.

I assured President Sargsyan that we will continue to support the process of the Armenian-Turkish normalization. A historic step has been taken – the two sides signed the bilateral Protocols and the momentum should be sustained. I would like to appeal to both countries to continue the dialogue without preconditions and within a sensible timeframe.

The next regional issue which we discussed today is the NK peace process. I hope that very soon we will see progress in the negotiations conducted in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. I informed President Sargsyan that the European Union is ready to give a new impetus to its efforts aimed at the peaceful resolution of the conflict, particularly to implement the EU action plan which will enhance people to people contacts. I hope, President Sargsyan will support the implementation of the action plan.

In conclusion, I would like to underline that we are pleased with the fact that our relations with Armenia develop and expand dynamically. I will be looking forward to the next steps to strengthen political association and deepen economic integration with Armenia.

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