This week, the European Union published two reports which are relevant for Armenia. According to these, the overall state of Armenia’s relations with Europe is better than it has ever been before and looks set to improve further. European Friends of Armenia welcomes the widely supportive nature of the reports and provides a summary of the most relevant points, including one point currently critically debated in Armenian media:
The European Parliament resolution, voted yesterday (20 May 2010), was criticised in Armenia for its paragraph 8, calling for the withdrawal of troupes from Karabakh. EuFoA agrees that the wording of this paragraph is confusing and stresses that it has to be seen in context with paragraph 7 of the same resolution, which reiterates that all demands of the EU need to be in line with ALL of the so-called Madrid principles and explicitly the Aquila declaration. This means concretely that the withdrawal of troupes can only take place, if there are sufficient security guarantees for the population of Karabakh, a corridor to Armenia, an agreement to the final status of Karabakh through a legally binding expression of will and the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former homes. No EU institution has ever demanded the withdrawal of troupes without such a comprehensive solution – this EP resolution has not changed that. EuFoA regrets that paragraph 8 has left room for interpretations and invites the Armenian authorities to discuss these points during the coming meetings with the EP, but not to let this recommendational resolution dominate the whole EU-Armenia agenda.
The same report (par 42) for the first time calls for extending EU programmes to Karabakh, ending the de-facto blockade for EU officials to travel to Karabakh. This would have a very positive effect of stabilisation and progress for Karabakh and would no longer submit such actions to a veto from Azerbaijan. The report also underlines the separate nature of the Turkey-Armenia rapprochement and the negotiations about Karabakh and calls for a ratification and implementation of the respective protocols without preconditions and in a reasonable time frame – supporting entirely the Armenian position (par 12). Finally, it notes Armenia’s and Georgia’s commitment to the implementation of the ENP Action Plans and calls on Azerbaijan to accelerate its efforts in this regard (par 36).
The latter point was also welcomed by the comprehensive ENP report of the European Commission, published on 18 May 2010. It notes that Armenia made progress in many areas of the ENP Action Plan, launched a regular human rights dialogue with the EU, improved the legislative framework in the area of anti-corruption and strengthened the role of the Human Rights Defender. The Commission also welcomes positive steps to address the internal political crisis following the aftermath of the Presidential elections in February 2008, including the Amnesty issued in June 2009, the amendments to the Criminal Code and the publication of the report by the Parliamentary Ad Hoc Inquiry Committee. Besides, the EU adopted on 10 May 2010 the negotiating directives for a future Association Agreement with which EU-Armenia relations will reach a new level. Finally, the Commission welcomes that Armenia widely aligned itself with the EU’s Common Foreign Security Policy (CFSP) declarations (108 out of 138 in 2009, Georgia: 97, Azerbaijan: 56) and is generally very active in cooperating on CFSP-related issues.
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