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Armenia urges the EU to give green light to a crucial agreement ”as soon as possible.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Armen Ashotyan called for the new EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to be ratified speedily

By: EBR - Posted: Wednesday, December 06, 2017

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This event took place following the recent 5th Eastern Partnership Summit  in Brussels and focused on the signing of CEPA. Ashotyan pointed out that the new EU-Armenia CEPA was the ”main visible success” of the Eastern Partnership Summit, held in Brussels on 24 November, and reminded the audience that this is the first agreement of this kind signed by the EU with a member-state of the Eurasian Economic Union.
This event took place following the recent 5th Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels and focused on the signing of CEPA. Ashotyan pointed out that the new EU-Armenia CEPA was the ”main visible success” of the Eastern Partnership Summit, held in Brussels on 24 November, and reminded the audience that this is the first agreement of this kind signed by the EU with a member-state of the Eurasian Economic Union.

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Ashotyan is chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia,  said, "It is important not to lose time on the technical details on this. We are just asking to be treated equally."

Ashotyan, also the head of the Armenian delegations to the EU-Armenia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Eastern Partnership (Euronest), added, "We are asking for this not because we see the  EU as a cash machine. This is not just a question of money but because we feel we have a right to its support for our reform programme." He was in Brussels to address a debate on EU-Armenian relations hosted by the European Friends of Armenia.

This event took place following the recent 5th Eastern Partnership Summit  in Brussels and focused on the signing of CEPA. Ashotyan pointed out that the new EU-Armenia CEPA was the "main visible success" of the Eastern Partnership Summit, held in Brussels on 24 November, and reminded the audience that this is the first agreement of this kind signed by the EU with a member-state of the Eurasian Economic Union.

As such, he said the economic and trade pillar of CEPA accommodates Armenia's commitments and limitations as a member of a different common market, thus falling short of establishing free-trade between Armenia and the European Union. On the other hand, the provisions in the political pillar of CEPA are very much equivalent to those of the association agreements signed by the EU with Georgia, Moldova or Ukraine.

This, he said, corresponds perfectly to the most pressing expectations of Armenia towards the EU, namely support (not exclusively financial) for the important reforms the country has engaged in with regard to further democratisation, enhancement of the rule of law, and protection of human and civil rights of the Armenian population. One example of the reform programme was the soon-to-be adopted legislation on combating domestic violence, he said.

He added, "We have undertaken such reforms not for the sake of it but because it is the right thing to do and for the benefit of our country. One of the aims is to try to raise standards to those normally found in EU member states. We have done a huge job in terms of internal reforms,much more I believe that many other Eastern neighbourhood states."

Ashotyan concluded by pleading for a quick ratification of CEPA by the EU - hopefully before the 2019 European Parliament elections- and making the case for a visa liberalisation dialogue to start immediately, "as they both would send a positive message and lead to quick and tangible results for Armenian citizens."

He said, "We are asking the EU and member states to put this matter - ratification of the CEPA - at the top of their agendas.. This is not something that should be treated as an issue of internal politics in 28 member states." He added, "I am optimistic but, then again, after over 3500 years of hard history we Armenians have to be optimistic."

The discussion that followed touched upon the enforcement of the agreement, the full implementation of which will require the ratification of all 28 EU member states and the European Parliament, while, from its side, Armenia will have to continue carrying out reforms for its institutional standards and legislation to approximate those of the EU. Concluding the debate, EuFoA Director Diogo Pinto expressed his gratitude to both the speaker and the participants for helping EuFoA accomplishing its objective of building bridges between Armenia and the EU.

Pinto, who moderated the discussion, said, "In 2018, as we did this year and previously, EuFoA will keep pursuing its mission by being a platform for dialogue between all relevant Armenian and European political actors, and we invite you all to keep attending our events", he said. The event was attended by more than 30 participants, representing EU institutions, diplomatic missions, international NGOs, think tanks and the media.

The recent Eastern Partnership Summit took place at the level of Heads of State or Government, with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk representing the EU, alongside the 28 EU Member States, the 6 Eastern partners,including Armenia.

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