Armenia, EU successfully complete first stage of discussions on new bilateral agreement: Donald Tusk




“The peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict remains a priority for the European Union. The European Union supports the negotiations aimed at settling the conflict led by the OSCE Minsk Group,” President of the Council of the European Union Donald Tusk said at a joint press conference with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

“We support further dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan, including at the highest level – at your level Mr. President. It is critical to respect the ceasefire strictly, to exercise restraint on actions and statements, and to create an atmosphere conducive to progress in the conflict settlement,” Mr. Tusk said.

“I’m confident there is no alternative to the peaceful settlement. If we want to reach a peaceful settlement, all players in this risky game should refrain from any aggressive elements and rhetoric, because words, speeches and rhetoric have implications on politics, and sometimes dramatic ones,” he said.

As for Armenia choice not to make use of the European Union’s offer of an Association Agreement including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, Tusk said “this is a choice that the European Union fully respects.”

“We still stand ready to deepen our relations by working together to open markets and by advancing on democratic reforms, economic growth, regional integration, a better business-investment climate, and sustainable development. In short a broad reform agenda,” he stressed.

“We have just successfully completed the first stage of discussions on a new, comprehensive bilateral agreement. In this agreement we have identified areas for future cooperation. The EU Member States are already discussing the mandate for these negotiations,” the EU President said.

“One important area in our cooperation is to make it easier to travel between Armenia and the European Union. I welcome the good progress made by Armenia on the Mobility Partnership. The effective implementation of the Readmission and Visa Facilitation Agreements that entered into force in January 2014 is a crucial condition to start talks for a visa liberalization dialogue. A visa-free regime is the final goal. I am hopeful that the next step can be taken in the coming months, if this pace of work continues,” he added.

Tusk assured “Armenia can count on the European Union’s continued support to advance on a whole range of political and social reforms, and to improve the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

“The European Union supports the work of civil society in Armenia and I encourage a closer involvement of the civil society in the reform process to broaden the perspective and ensure common ownership. This year is decisive for our relations,” Donald Tusk said.

Mr. Tusk thanked for the possibility to visit the Armenian Genocide Memorial. “This was my second visit, and was as moved as during my first visit,” he said.