We are looking forward to be judged on our own merits. The Foreign Minister of Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, noted this during the joint press conference in Brussels, on the results of the second Partnership Council meeting between the European Union (EU) and Armenia.

“We had a very productive discussion today within the second meeting of the Armenia-EU Partnership Council. We have shared ideas on a wide variety of issues ranging from political matters, regional issues, sectoral cooperation, development within the Eastern Partnership, Mnatsakanyan stated, in particular. “We once again underscored the fact that our comprehensive partnership is based on shared values and strong commitment to uphold them. Relations are grounded on our common civilizational heritage, mutual aspirations for building strong democracies with sustainable institutions and resilient sustainable societies.

“We have also touched upon the developments throughout the year in Armenia and I reflected on the various measures, various policies taken by the Government on addressing head on corruption, addressing the important priority of providing a level playing field and equal opportunities for all in economic and social life and implementing specific policies on that.

“We have shared also some statistics with our colleagues in the European Union about the way in which our policies have been reflecting on the economy and our deep commitment carry on with the reforms which stem from the very spirit and the very nature of the velvet revolution that took place last year in April and May of 2018.

“I have also reflected on the very big priority of judicial reform in Armenia which takes a very important place in our domestic agenda and underlining the importance of our cooperation to this end.

“We took stock of the development since the first Partnership Council also in the context of the mutual high-level visits. I would recall that we had a very important bilateral visit in March: PM Nikol Pashinyan was visiting Brussels and I want to again recall the importance of this visit and the importance of the agreements we have reached during this visit, including on the deepening of our relations in specific areas and the specific projects we have agreed we will be pushing forward together for the development of Armenia. And also, I want to reflect also on the elections that took place in Armenia in December 2018 and that these elections were absolutely critical. They were recognized as genuinely free and fair by international election observation missions. And most importantly they were accepted by our public. Once again, I want to express our appreciation to the EU and its member states for the support rendered to us for the smooth organization of these elections.

“We also thoroughly discussed the implementation of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement today. This Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement in fact is the constitution of our relations in the framework of which we elaborated on our cooperation - political, justice, trade, security, human rights, development areas, as well as sectoral cooperation such as trade, energy transport, communication environment and so on.

“I want to take this opportunity to express gratitude to those EU member states who have already ratified the CEPA to date and also of course take this opportunity to encourage the remaining member states to take further steps to accelerate their internal ratification procedures for the full entry into force of the Comprehensive and Enhance Partnership Agreement.

“One of the most important results of the meeting today was that we have also discussed and agreed on the CEPA implementation roadmap. It is a carefully drafted planning document for us in Armenia which will make the implementation and the monitoring of the agreement well-structured and well-targeted. We also assessed the Armenia-EU partnership priorities which is aimed at facilitating the further deepening of our relations.

“We have extensively discussed a number of important issues on the bilateral and international agenda and regional agenda in particular on which Madam Mogherini has reflected upon and which I fully second.

“We also exchanged views on the prospects of launching the Armenia-EU visa liberalization dialogue which is an important mutual commitment reflected in various bilateral and multilateral agreements.

“We have been undertaking on our part, we have been undertaking  consistent steps towards the effective implementation of the Visa facilitation and Readmission Agreement. Actively spurring the opening of the visa liberalization dialogue we have been engaging for this purpose in a direct dialogue with the member states, of course along with the engagement of the EU institutions.

“I want to again underline that we had reflected upon it during our meeting that this is a very important issue that solidifies and strengthens the nature of our relations by way of bringing people together. Facilitation of the people-to-people contact consolidates the depth of the relation with the European Union and in that I see a very important political function of the free movement of our people and the acceleration of the strengthening of the contact between our people. Connectivity and mobility in that sense has an important political significance.

“Also, we are looking forward to be judged on our own merits and not to be linked to other contexts. I would also want to thank the President of the Commission, President Junker for the very strong support that he has expressed also during the visit of the Prime Minister and the meeting with PM Pashinyan and also during their joint press conference in March.

“Another item we have discussed today was the Eastern partnership 10th anniversary follow-up. Amongst the important achievements of the Eastern Partnership is its appreciation of the shared values as well as important contribution to sustainable development of our region and our country. I’d like to also announce that we will make our own contribution on the national level by launching an event in Armenia on October 9th which will be dedicated to youth empowerment and innovation. And we of course invite and look forward to welcome all our partners amongst the EU member states and of course EaP member states.

“Today we also discussed the implementation of deliverables of 2020.

“And of course we also discussed Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and I reiterated Armenia’s commitment to the exclusively peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict within the internationally mandated format of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship. The status and security of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) are the priorities of Armenia in the negotiating process. For us, another important priority concerns staying focused on establishing and promoting an environment conducive to peace; strict adherence to ceasefire regime, implementation of risk-reduction measures against escalation remain very important priorities. Abandoning warmongering rhetoric and hate speech are critical conditions for progress in the negotiations.

“We welcome and underline the importance of the EU’s support to the Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ efforts. We also appreciate and acknowledge the role the European Union plays in various ways to contribute to such an environment which helps progress with the negotiating process by way of various projects. And we also underlined that such projects need to be very carefully targeted in that they genuinely set the purpose of genuine people to people contact.

“We again want to reiterate how deeply we appreciate the consistency of the EU’s position in supporting the process strictly within the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship and the proposals and ideas generated within this format, within these negotiations.

“We of course have full confidence in the consistency of such consolidated support of the European Union. We have also discussed that. So once again thank you for that.

“I will now wrap up my notes by saying once again how much we appreciate the great cooperation we have with the High Representative and with her team of great and committed friends of Armenia, who know Armenia very well, and who have been the actual operators of what we call strong Armenia - EU relationship. And I also want to take the opportunity to thank my team, the team of Armenia’s various representatives of our Government, at the level of deputy ministers and others, who have also been working very hard throughout the year to substantiate the content of our relationship.

“I want to thank you, Federica [Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice-President of the European Commission], for the spirit of friendship, support, pragmatism and that very strong commitment for the important priority for Armenia of our relations with the European Union.”