Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian voiced his nation’s determination to keep momentum in its relations with the European Union by moving closer to concluding an association agreement as he spoke at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Warsaw on Friday.
The two-day summit in the Polish capital that began on September 29 brings together the leaders or officials of six former Soviet states, including Armenia, that are working on their association agreements with the EU. Such agreements would essentially raise the level of the relationship between Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine on one side and the 27-nation bloc on the other, with an opportunity of a permanent free trade agreement and a simplified visa regime with EU countries being among the benefits. Meanwhile, the EU requires that the six ex-Soviet states implement wide-ranging reforms before rising to that level of relationship.
The EU and Armenia announced major progress in their negotiations on their association agreement meant to deepen their political, economic and other links. Armenian and EU officials formally opened negotiations on the accord stemming from the EU’s Eastern Partnership program last July. They have held several rounds of negotiations since then.
“In Armenia we have been genuinely satisfied with the progress made in the Association Agreement negotiations. We feel determined to maintain and continue to make progress at this pace and now are taking steps to carry out the necessary measures towards creating a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Zone with the EU,” said Sarkisian, addressing the Warsaw summit.
“We view this process as an additional incentive to promote fundamental institutional and structural reforms in Armenia,” Sarkisian added, according to his press office.
In his speech, Sarkisian also reaffirmed Armenia’s intention to launch “simultaneous and large-scale reforms in several directions at a time” with the assistance of EU partners.
“We are committed to pressing ahead with our large-scale reforms in accordance with EU standards in efficient governance, democracy, human rights, rule of law and various fields of public life,” stressed Sarkisian.
In his remarks the Armenian leader also expressed his conviction that the EU’s experience of “establishing lasting peace and welfare” and its example of “political and economic integration” can also be applicable in the South Caucasus.
“Unresolved conflicts must receive their fair and sustainable solutions,” said Sarkisian, emphasizing that Armenia remains committed to finding a negotiated peace to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“For Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh the key to solving the problem is in the physical security of the people and their maintaining the right to decide their own fate,” he underscored.