Van Rompuy: EU is shared values, a partner of Armenia

The president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, who arrived in Armenia on a two-day visit late on July 3, visited the Armenian National Assembly and took part in the opening of a conference, “Armenia in Europe”, on Wednesday. He also visited the Armenian Genocide memorial at Tsitsernakaberd and was scheduled to meet with President Serzh Sargsyan to discuss European Union-Armenian relations and other issues of mutual interest.

In his speeches, van Rompuy welcomed Armenia’s integration to promote its intention with Europe based on common values. “The EU is, first of all, shared values. Armenia is a partner that wants to share those values. This will raise our relations to a new level,” said van Rompuy at the conference held under the motto “Europe is not geography - Europe is values”.

The European official welcomed the efforts of the Armenian authorities to increase political competition in elections and praised the transparency of the May 6 parliamentary elections that he said were an important step forward “despite the fact that there are still certain problems that are reflected in the report of the OSCE/ODIHR.” The head of the European Council also expressed a hope that the problems will be resolved before the next presidential election scheduled in Armenia for February 2013.

Van Rompuy paid particular attention to the opinion of civil society in Armenia’s European integration effort and the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, making it clear that Europe will not provide money without real reforms. President Sargsyan visited Brussels recently and it became known during his visit that an EU donor conference in support of Armenia originally expected to be organized after the May legislative polls would not be held until after the presidential election in the country.

“We assist those European Neighborhood member countries that are in the process of building a stable democracy, including Armenia. On May 15 this year, the EU adopted a road map, which involves the principle ‘More democracy, more assistance’. There can be no other way around,” said van Rompuy.

The head of the European Council reminded that negotiations on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which is part of the Association Agreement, have started between the EU and Armenia. This process is hoped to become a new impetus for the development of investment and entrepreneurship. “Relations with Armenia are important to us as well, because it is a major partner in the Eastern Partnership program and has adopted the European prospect of modernization. Trade is an engine for future reforms,” concluded van Rompuy.

As for the Karabakh settlement, the European official expressed a serious concern about the latest border incidents in the conflict zone, urging the parties to follow the recommendations of the presidents of the United States, Russia and France, the countries co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group.

“A resolution of the Karabakh conflict is a key to stability and prosperity. A solution to the conflict depends both on the politicians and the societies, on how far they will refrain from rhetorical temptations. One cannot be hostage to one’s own history. It is necessary to overcome the wounds inflicted by the conflict and to build a better future,” said van Rompuy.