EU commits to assist Armenia with 20million in 2004-2006

March 15 2004


YEREVAN, MARCH 15, ARMENPRESS: On 15 March Armenian Finance and
Economy Minister Vartan Khachatrian, who is also EU National
Coordinator, and Torben Holtze, Head of the European Commission
Delegation signed National Indicative Program 2004-2006. The program
describes overall objectives and ways to assist Armenia through the
European Union’s Tacis program for the three years. The Indicative
Program will support the overall European Union strategy of
strengthening the independence of Armenia and its progress to a
market economy and fully developed democracy.
Tacis Indicative Program 2004-2006 covers the following two
priority areas:
a) support for institutional, legal and administrative reform with
an indicative budget allocation of 13.5 million and b) support in
addressing the social consequences of transition with an emphasis on
the vocational education sector. The indicative budget allocation for
the latter is 6.5 million. The overall funding under the Indicative
Program 2004-2006 will be 20 million euros.
“As it was reiterated by the current Government, strengthening
Armenia’s partnership with the EU remains one of the main priorities
of Armenia’s foreign policy and is aimed at gradual deepening of
integration with the EU. Tacis along with other EU programs will
continue to be the main tool to assist the Government in the
implementation of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, being
the cornerstone of our partnership relations between Armenia and the
EU,” said Mr. Khachatrian.
Holtze stressed: “The present Indicative Program shows commitment
of the EU to assist Armenia and aims to respond to the priorities of
the deeper political relationship, with the expectation that each
project should contribute in some way towards meeting the objectives
worked out jointly.”
A more detailed bi-annual Action Program will be adopted setting
out specific projects and the funding available, within the
guidelines given in the Indicative Program.
Speaking to reporters after the signing ceremony, the Minister
mentioned that the construction of Iran-Armenia gas pipeline is
possibly to start later this year, and added that there is some
ongoing work for development of alternative sources of energy,
particularly, three airheads are expected to be built this year,
apart from negotiations on building 2 or 3 hydro power plants. He
argued also that after upgrading the Yerevan Thermal Power plant the
prime cost of electricity will decrease significantly, nearing the
price of electricity produced by the nuclear plant. These measures,
according to the minister, would enable the authorities and EU
representatives to start negotiating a closure deadline of the
Armenian nuclear power plant. He added that the EU has pledged only
100 million euros to that end, while replacing the nuclear plant by a
similar facility will require at least $1 billion.
Torben Holtze in turn said that the EU’s support in the
construction of Iran-Armenia pipeline may come only after fixing the
concrete date of the nuclear power plant’s closure. He said that the
pipeline may also ship gas to Europe, but added that for the time
being it is still early to speak about it. Khachatrian added that the
plant will be closed as soon as there are equal facilities to replace
it, without even waiting for construction of Iran-Armenia pipeline.