More reform, more support: EU allocates more money to Armenia in exchange for democratic reforms

Against the background of Armenia’s activating its European integration processes and Russia’s increasingly demanding Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Union, Brussels has decided to move from promises to action.

On September 27 an agreement was signed in Yerevan on the financing of reforms in Armenia worth more than 43 million euros (about $55.5 million); it also refers to a conference of donors which a fundraising in support of reforms in Armenia is due to be organized.

For their part, the Armenian authorities confirmed their commitment to follow the path of European integration.

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan received on Thursday visiting EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule.

The head of the Armenian government said that one of the priorities of the Government of Armenia is to sign an agreement on a deep and comprehensive free trade zone, stressing that Armenia is ready to speed up its reforms.

Stefan Fule said: “I see the amount of the realized reforms. We will continue to assist you to ensure a high potential for reform.” He noted the great progress in the negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements, noting that the signing could take place in the near future.

He said that the financial assistance being provided to Armenia by the EU will continue to be based on the ‘more support for more reforms’ principle. Fule said that on this principle in 2012, the European Commission has provided 75 million euros (about $97 million) to Armenia. The commissioner proposed to replace the Armenia-EU partnership program by the agenda of the Association Agreement.

Following meetings in Yerevan, Armenia and the European Commission signed an agreement under which Armenia will be granted 43.1 million euros for the preparation of the implementation of the Armenia-EU Association Agreement.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan also expressed his satisfaction with the dynamics of the Armenia-EU relations. The EU official noted that he had arrived in Armenia with the confidence that this South Caucasus state is definitely committed to the process of integration with the EU, and now it is necessary to discuss the range of possibilities to move from the agenda of reforms to concrete actions.

So far the EU has maintained parity in the relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, carrying out integration processes in parallel. However, as it is noted in the association agreements with Armenia and Azerbaijan that were developed long ago, only one point remains uncoordinated – the Karabakh conflict. The sides still cannot find a wording that would suit both.

Prime Minister Sargsyan said that the EU should make clear that it will not tolerate the use of force in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and will apply sanctions against the party that violates this principle.

In its turn, Azerbaijan expressed its dissatisfaction with the EU’s position. The unwillingness of the European Union to express the same position on the Karabakh problem as on other conflicts is a major obstacle that slows down cooperation between Baku and Brussels, said Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mammadguliyev at a recent international conference on building bridges between Azerbaijan and the European Union in Baku.

Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Armenian National Assembly Artak Zakaryan during a meeting with the European Commissioner said that with its statements the EU should make its approaches to the conflicting sides more individual and give up its ‘artificial’ parity.