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On 30–31 May 2018, the European Commission, the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU and the Iraqi government co-organised a TAIEX-PI Workshop on Protecting Iraqi Cultural Heritage and Fighting Terrorism. In line with the EU’s commitment to fight against organised crime and protect cultural heritage, participants explored ways to put an end to the illegal trafficking of Iraqi antiquities and deprive terrorists of a major source of funding.
The European Union plans to continue its support to Azerbaijan’s economic diversification by boosting its support to the Lankaran Economic Region. The EU will provide over €13 million to boost local social-economic development and reduce the gap between Baku and the rest of the country. Lankaran has the lowest economic output and income per capita and the lowest levels of investments per capita, but at the same time, an undisputed potential in the production of high-value horticultural produce. The EU programme will focus on enhancing the competitiveness and value-added of the fruit and vegetable sector of the region in a sustainable manner.
On 1-3 June 2018 the EaP Civil Society Hackathon gathered in Minsk over 70 civil society representatives, IT professionals and designers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to work on software projects that would enable civil society better contribute to reforms in their home countries. For over two days the participants worked in hack teams of 3-4 persons on data research, ICT tools design and prototyping with the support of 11 mentors.
As a result of this intensive work, 20 project ideas designed by the civil society activists were worked through and turned into the prototypes of IT tools and solutions: web platforms, accountability tools, online and mobile applications. These include a wide range of services for journalists, active citizens and volunteers, people with disabilities and people in difficult situations, drivers and pedestrians, local communities and local authorities.
Since January 2015, EU-Armenia relations have developed significantly. The negotiation and provisional application of a new bilateral partnership agreement, as well as the finalisation of Partnership Priorities in February this year have contributed to this success, a new EU report said.
Issued ahead of the first European Union - Armenia Partnership Council, which will be held on 21 June, today's report looks at developments in Armenia and in EU-Armenia relations over the past two-and-a-half years.
"We have witnessed a very important period for EU-Armenia relations and for Armenia itself", said the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini. "A lot of hard work and determination has gone into our new bilateral agreement, which stands to bring visible benefits to our citizens, from strengthening transparency and accountability, to creating more opportunities for trade and investment, to environmental protection. Now is the time to implement the agreement, along with our Partnership Priorities, so as to turn the hard work on paper into concrete results."
The EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement, which was signed on 24 November in the margins of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels by High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini and Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edward Nalbandian, provisionally applies as of today. The agreement covers political, trade and other sectorial issues, from the environment to procurement procedures, reflecting the fact that relations between the European Union and Armenia are comprehensive and that there is significant potential for enhanced cooperation. The agreement is designed to bring tangible benefits to the citizens of the European Union and Armenia. This will be done, for example, through strengthening cooperation on security matters, improving the investment climate, and stimulating growth and jobs. As of today, the majority of the agreement will apply provisionally. This means that the European Union and Armenia will now have the framework in which to have a regular political dialogue, to work on issues related to domestic reform, to cooperate in areas such as transport, energy, banking and financial services, and to enhance their work on asylum and border management, among others. In addition, the parts of the agreement related to trade will also apply as of today, enabling the EU and Armenia to, for example, work to enhance the regulatory environment in Armenia, thus improving the business climate and investment opportunities for Armenian and EU companies. The agreement has already been ratified by Armenia and is currently under ratification by the EU Member States. The agreement will enter into force once the process of ratification by the Member States and the procedure for conclusion by the EU is completed. More information is available in dedicated factsheets on the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement and on EU-Armenia relations, as well as on the website of the EU Delegation to Armenia. The full text of the agreement is available online.
On 26 May Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, joined celebrations in Tbilisi to commemorate Georgia's centenary Independence Day.
At the opening ceremony President Juncker stated, "Georgia is a country that has always been part of Europe and has always looked towards Europe. I want us to break down more of the barriers that still exist between us, and step up our support to each other, building on the progress we have already achieved."
Watch the President's speech at the Oath Taking Ceremony to the 100th Anniversary of Georgia's First Democratic Republic. He also gave a joint press statement with Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili later in the day.
Throughout the day inhabitants and visitors of Tbilisi came to visit the European Union stand on Rustaveli Avenue. People were encouraged to learn about the history of the European Union, relations with Georgia and positive results for Georgian citizens.
Today President Juncker is travelling to Tbilisi, Georgia for the first time, together with Commissioner Hahn. This evening he will meet bilaterally with the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili and will attend a dinner hosted by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili. President Juncker's visit will continue on Saturday which marks the 100th anniversary of Georgia's first democratic republic and will attend the oath-taking ceremony for the occasion, together with Commissioner Hahn, where he will deliver a speech which can be followed live on EbS. On Saturday President Juncker will also attend a lunch hosted by President Margvelashvili, before visiting the National Youth Palace where he will witness the imitation of the announcement of Georgia's First Independence Declaration. Photos of the visit will be available on EbS.
In the annual Economic and Financial Dialogue with the EU held today, the Western Balkans and Turkey agreed to deepen economic and social reforms in order to improve the economy and boost competitiveness and inclusive growth.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations is in Kyiv today 22 May and tomorrow 23 May, to reiterate the EU strong support for the Ukrainian reform process, and to assess progress in this regard.
A summit between the leaders of the European Union and the Western Balkans partners in Sofia today confirmed the European perspective of the region and set out a number of concrete actions to strengthen cooperation in the areas of connectivity, security and the rule of law.