At the Eastern Partnership Summit, Azatutyun Radio Station talked with Armenia’s PM Edward Nalbandian on the important provisions of the adopted Declaration, Baku’s attempt to boycott the Declaration and the benefits of the Summit for Armenia.
Responding to a journalist’s question, Nalbandian referred to the EU-Armenia process not as an interrupted but a continuous one.
“Today we have what we expected. We reaffirmed what was said at the Armenia-EU Council meeting as early as January 20 of this year: Armenia and the EU are going to continue comprehensive cooperation in all the spheres and directions possible, considering Armenia’s commitments in other integration processes.
The Declaration adopted at the summit touches upon this very question: We started the process, the so-called consultations with the EU as early as in November of last year. Why consultations and not negotiations? Because the EU negotiating team had no corresponding mandate. Now it’s clear that those consultations, which were completed in March, and as a result of which we reached a common agreement, enable to move to negotiation stage soon, this also finding its reflection in the Joint Declaration.
We arranged that the European Council will shortly confirm and approve the mandate of its negotiating team, following which we will start the talks in order to draw up a new legal framework document on the further expansion, deepening and development of our relations,” Nalbandian said.
The Declaration also included another important direction, namely that of mobility. It stresses the so-called upcoming visa dialogue on visa liberalization. According to the FM, the readmission and visa facilitation agreements, signed with the EU and enforced in January 2014, paved the way for the commencement of a new process, which will result in visa liberalization. This means that Armenian citizens will be freed from the visa requirement when entering the EU.
“We will continue our talks and communication also with regard to developing cooperation in different spheres. The Declaration touches on this to some extent, referring to Horizon 2020 program, which deals with the sphere of scientific research, also promoting entrepreneurship, specifically that of small and medium enterprises, aviation and other spheres,” Nalbandian said.
“There were talks that an agreement would or would not be signed in Riga.
There was no such question. Back in January, right after the Armenia-EU Council meeting, I declared that when the EU negotiating team is granted a mandate, the negotiations would be conducted, a document would be drawn up, we’d reach agreement and only then that document would be signed,” he added.
Referring to the negotiation process, Nalbandian said that the EU Commission presented a positive report to the EU Council, and the latter must approve the mandate. “I’m sure the mandate will soon be approved, and we will start the talks.”
Responding to the question on Azerbaijan’s conduct at the summit, Nalbandian said: “Azerbaijan again appeared in isolation. 28 EU and Eastern Partnership states had reached an agreement on including corresponding wordings in the common Declaration. Those relate to the support to the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and their countries’ presidents, as well as the statements made by them in 2009, i.e. the statements made in Acqueville, Muskoka, Los Cabos and Enniskillen. With this regard, we have repeated many times that our approaches conform to the provisions and proposals included in those statements. It’s only Azerbaijan which hasn’t yet expressed its stance over the matter.
This time the reference to those statements was included in the Joint Declaration of the EU and Eastern Partnership states. Azerbaijan had some problems with that and with the provision on Karabakh conflict settlement. That is why their foreign minister left the conference room. They tried unsuccessfully to bring him back. But in the end, as a result of appropriate negotiations with Baku, it was agreed that the declaration will be adopted and that Azerbaijan will present its objections regarding the corresponding provision. And the Declaration was adopted without amendments. ” Nalbandian said.
Referring to the question on the solution of the issue raised by Armenia and Belarus regarding the wording on “illegal annexation of Crimea,” Nalbandian said: “I can’t speak on behalf of Belarus, but the proposals and ideas presented by Armenia were received with understanding, being mostly accepted and reflected in the Declaration.”