Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad to once again welcome the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy and my good friend Johannes Hahn in Yerevan.
Our contacts, meetings and dialogue are regular. Only this year we have already had five meetings with Mr. Hahn. Last time we met a few weeks ago, on September 8, in Tallinn within the framework of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership states, and today's visit gives us yet another opportunity to continue our discussions in Yerevan.
Armenia enjoys close ties with the European Union and intends to expand the comprehensive cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.
The European Union provides valuable assistance for the ongoing reforms in our country, supports the efforts made by Armenia towards the continuous promotion of human rights and the rule of law, further strengthening of democratic institutions, improving judiciary and effective governance. I would like to emphasize our cooperation in the context of parliamentary elections held in Armenia last April.
In line with the spirit of the Joint Declaration of Riga Eastern Partnership Summit, our cooperation has registered significant achievements over the past two years, Armenia has joined the Horizon 2020 and COSME programmes. Negotiations on joining the "Creative Europe" and the Common Aviation Area Agreement have been concluded.
The agreement has been reached over the Partnership Priorities Document between Armenia and the European Union.
I would like to specifically highlight that the Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement has been finalised and initialled. The signing of the Agreement can become one of the main achievements of the EU Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Brussels in November.
The preparatory work for the Brussels Summit has been an important part of our discussions with Commissioner Hahn. We exchanged views on the Final Declaration of the Summit.
Encouraging people to people contacts is an important part of the Armenia-EU agenda. Visa liberalisation is one of the most important components for the mobility and deepening of people to people contacts, which is enshrined in the Vilnius and Riga Summit Declarations.
Our agenda is enriched with new content, particularly, expansion of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). There are proposals on harmonisation and reduction of roaming tariffs in the EU and Eastern Partnership countries, as well as financing in local currency of the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in partner countries. I am convinced that our cooperation will be supplemented by other mutually beneficial projects.
We exchanged views on sectoral cooperation, touched upon the “20 Deliverables for 2020” document, which outlines the main directions for the next three years within the framework of the Eastern Partnership.
Armenia and the European Union have a comprehensive cooperation in different spheres. Here are some examples: over the past three years, the European Union has provided pivotal assistance to the development of agriculture in Armenia through the European Neighborhood and Rural Communities Development Programme (ENPARD). Within the framework of the Eastern Partnership Integrated Border Management Programme the EU provides a continuous support for modernisation of the Armenia-Georgia border checkpoints. Yesterday, with the opening of the checkpoint in Bavra another phase of this programme was completed.
The EU also supported the construction of the Armenia-Georgia high-voltage transmission line through its Neighborhood Investment Facility.
We also attach importance to the active multilateral cooperation within the framework of the Erasmus Plus programme, collaboration between universities, students exchanges and mobility, exchange of best practices.
At the meeting with Commissioner Hahn, we also discussed urgent international issues, developments in the Middle East, the course of implementation of agreements over the Iranian nuclear programme and the situation in the Korean peninsula.
I briefed Mr. Hahn on the joint efforts of Armenia and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries aimed at exclusively peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and the preparations for the upcoming meeting of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Commissioner Hahn reaffirmed the unreserved and full support of the European Union to the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries.
I gladly give the floor to our guest.