Three Questions For Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian

11:17 ~U 09.12.09

Yesterday, foreign ministers from the EU and the six countries involved
in the Eastern Partnership met, reports the official website of the
Swedish Presidency of the European Union. This is the first meeting
of foreign ministers since the partnership was launched in May. Ahead
of yesterday’s meeting, put three questions to Armenia’s
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.

What are your expectations of the meeting? What are the most important
issues for Armenia?

Armenia attaches great importance to cooperation with the European
Union and its Member States. The Eastern Partnership initiative
provides a new framework for this relationship through enhanced
political dialogue, increased trade opportunities and people-to-people
contacts. Another added value of the Eastern Partnership is that
it supports cooperation among the partner states, which is can be
critical to the overall success of the initiative. At this first
ministerial meeting we will take stock of the progress achieved and
I look forward to productive discussions with my colleagues on the
perspectives of our future cooperation.

Armenia’s relations with the European Union are regulated by the
Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. The latter was signed in 1996
and entered into force in 1999. Since then the political landscape of
Europe has changed significantly, new challenges and opportunities
have come into being. The Eastern Partnership not only reflects the
progress achieved in relations between Armenia and the EU in the last
decade, but also offers the perspective of an Association Agreement,
which will adapt our cooperation to the new realities and will take
into consideration the aspirations of each partner state and the
European Union.

What are your hopes for the Eastern Partnership in the short run and
the long run?

I think in the short term the Eastern Partnership should develop
appropriate mechanisms of cooperation and establish the atmosphere
of mutual understanding that will be conducive to accomplishing
the goals of the initiatives. The thematic platforms, have made a
certain progress this year, and I hope that their working plans
will be successfully implemented. It is also important that the
partner countries build their capacities so that they can absorb
the implications that derive from the intensive contacts within the
Eastern Partnership and can serve the goals of cooperation such as
an Association Agreement and a deep and comprehensive Free Trade

How do you think the EU can benefit from the partnership? How can
Armenia benefit?

Partnership means a common set of values, interests, trade and
human contacts. The ultimate beneficiaries of this process will be
the peoples of Armenia and the European Union, who are united in
their diversity, as each of them has different traditions, history
and language, but they share the same vision of a Europe based on
cooperation, peace and prosperity. They want to trade with each other
and enrich knowledge of each other’s culture. To this end, one of
our common priorities is facilitating visa arrangements in order
to gradually remove obstacles to people-to-people contact between
our societies.