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Yerevan, 2 October 2017

 

Thank you Minister, thank you very much for receiving us here in Yerevan and indeed it is our sixth meeting this year, but I think the first one in Yerevan. So, we have seen each other on several occasions, and this also expresses the very strong ties we could establish between the European Union and Armenia.

 

I can only confirm what the Minister has presented a long list of activities. But it is good to hear it again and again because it is also about visibility which means the contribution of the European Union to the further development of Armenia, because it is in our own interest to have a strong stable and prosper Armenia in the South Caucasus contributing to the further stabilisation of our neighbourhood.

 

In that respect and in this spirit the European Union and Armenia will soon sign a new Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement. The Minister referred to it. This, together with the agreed Partnership Priorities will broaden and deepen our cooperation. Let me note that this is the first agreement of this kind across the Eastern Partnership region, and that Armenia is also the first Eastern partner to conclude Partnership Priorities with the European Union. So in that way the country is a frontrunner and we are very interested to see how this new agreement will materialise, because it is again a blueprint for possible other relationships and in that respect the agreement goes far beyond our bilateral relationship.

 

This ground-breaking new agreement will help demonstrate that it is possible for Armenia to be part of the Eurasian Integration Process, while also establishing an enhanced comprehensive cooperation with the Union and this is the idea behind it and should serve as an example to others, if they like it.

 

With the new agreement we will assist Armenia to improve its regulatory environment in areas such as trade and services. The establishment of the operation of companies, public procurement and it is also about intellectual property rights.

 

Both the agreement and the partnership priorities will also provide the framework for concrete areas where we plan to invest and this is what I will discuss with the Prime Minister: we want amongst others to concentrate on education and innovation. Both are closely linked to each other as skills development will be key for Armenia's future.

 

We will also continue to strong support the businesses. One of the key deliverables of the Eastern Partnership Summit is to provide loans in local currencies which is important, in particular for SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises). They are not experienced in working in foreign currencies, but they should have access to the local currency and, therefore, I think this is another very important deliverable for the further development of the business sector here in Armenia.

 

A part from all these bilateral issues which are partly as I said embedded into the Eastern Partnership Summit, we have discussed of course and it was mentioned by the Minister, the next Eastern Partnership Summit which is scheduled for the 24th of November in Brussels. It is in Brussels for the first time also to demonstrate the strong commitment of all the 28 EU Member States on the further development of the eastern neighbourhood. And it is not only on the particular interest of our Eastern European Member States, but it is in the interest of all the 28, expressed by the fact that we have convened this summit for the first time in Brussels. And that is why and I have already referred in a particular item on this famous deliverables for 2020 which aim to bring tangible results and benefits to the daily lives of Armenian citizens.

 

The Minister also referred to reducing, finally ideally abandoning, roaming tariffs, but also to connect, to reconnect, to the Trans-European network of railways and highways. Also, in the energy sector, it is about increasing people-to-people contacts, in particular Erasmus scholarships opportunities. But also here we have to see how we can extend the scope of areas of people-to-people contacts.

 

All in all, I can confirm that the relationship between the European Union and Armenia has further improved. Also the elections this year have been kind of testimonial. But of course further progress is possible and has to be achieved. It is in all our interest. What we would like to see is a prosperous, stable neighbourhood, and this is in the interest of both of us because it is about peace and prosperity and it is something which citizens are interested and not only are interested, they simply deserve it.

 

Thank you very much.

 

Link to the video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I144362