By Raffi Elliott
During his 4 July visit to Yerevan, EU President Herman Van Rompuy declared that Armenia was moving in the right direction, and that negotiations are now being prepared for the promised EU led international donor conference for financial aid to Armenia’s state and economic reform agenda.
Earlier statements by the spokesperson of EU Commissioner Stefan Füle caused confusion, as he first stated in January that this donor conference would take place after the parliamentary elections of May 2012, while recently mentioning a time after the presidential election as a target.
“The plan to hold the donor conference this autumn was always very ambitious” explained Dr Michael Kambeck, Secretary General of the NGO European Friends of Armenia (www.EuFoA.org) in Brussels. “Amongst other things, both sides need to prepare excellent strategy documents for the World Bank. Yerevan and Brussels started those preparations after the recent parliamentary elections and I don’t believe that they can finish them before it gets already too close to the upcoming Presidential Elections.”
As a general rule, the EU avoids any activities close to national elections, which could influence these elections.
Kambeck emphasised the importance of the renewed dedication by the EU to assisting the democratic and economic modernisation of its Eastern-European periphery in a time of financial insecurity stating: “What was important for us is that President Van Rompuy reaffirmed the EU’s commitment for this donor conference, despite the EU’s crisis. And if the Presidential Elections next February mark another progress over last May’s elections, this conference will find enough political support in Europe and beyond to be successful. This will be very significant for Armenia!”
In this context, it is also noteworthy that separately, the European Parliament decided yesterday, 10 July 2012, to increase the EU's financial assistance to Armenia in the framework of the Eastern Partnership Programme and the European Neighborhood Policy. The date for the said international donor conference will be fixed, once the Armenian government has finalised the necessary strategy documents in cooperation with the EU.
(Raffi Elliott is currently a research fellow at the Yerevan branch of EuFoA)
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