The European Union allocated on Thursday about 10 million euros ($12.4 million) in fresh assistance to Armenia’s central and local governments as well as civic organizations.
The EU Delegation in Yerevan said it will finance 15 concrete projects ranging from human rights protection to poverty reduction and agricultural development.
“The EU remains committed to further engage with Armenia and to strengthen bilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interest based on shared values,” the head of the delegation, Traian Hristea, said after signing funding agreements with governmental and non-governmental recipients of the aid.
“The majority of projects focus on supporting respect for human rights and are implemented by the international and local civil society,” the delegation said in a separate statement. “Over the next two-three years, they will promote civil society dialogue, strengthen freedom of expression, rule of law, advance gender equality and combat gender-based sex selective abortions in Armenia. They will also promote the integration of Syrian refugees in the country and assist children without parents.”
The rest of the EU funds are to be spent on infrastructure projects in rural areas and agricultural reforms planned by the Armenian government. “They will help minimize social and economic hardship of rural communities in Shirak, develop sustainable tourism, promote ecological bee keeping in Vayots Dzor and improve public services in Jujevan, Baghanis and Voskevan. Another action will provide access to renewable and efficient energy in the municipalities of Vayk and Spitak,” added the statement.
The EU already announced last month that it will allocate up to 170 million euros over the next years to support the Armenian private sector and assist in reforms of the Armenian judiciary and public administration. Its European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn portrayed the promised aid as further proof of the EU’s commitment to “very close cooperation” with Armenia.
“The European Union is a key partner to Armenia,” Hristea said in Yerevan. He emphasized the fact that the EU is the country’s number one trading partner and the single largest source of foreign investment.
Armenia thrust its relations with the EU into uncertainty last year when it unexpectedly decided to join a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states. The EU responded by abandoning a planned Association Agreement with Yerevan. The Armenian government has since been trying to negotiate an alternative deal that would deepen its ties with Brussels without contradicting Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union.