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The French ambassador in Yerevan, Jean-Francois Charpentier, on Monday spoke of “quite positive” atmosphere in ongoing consultations on a new agreement to deepen Armenia’s relations with the European Union.

“We are working with our Armenian friends to further elaborate the text of the new EU-Armenia agreement,” he told a news conference. “In the run-up to the [EU’s] Riga summit, the technical part of that work will near completion.”

Charpentier said the French government hopes to have a “clear idea on the scope of the EU’s cooperation with Armenia” in time for the summit due in May.

Visiting Yerevan last week, the EU’s European Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn said Armenian and EU officials have already identified “the areas and the depth of cooperation” to be regulated by the new accord. Hahn expressed hope that the Riga summit will give the executive European Commission a formal mandate to start official negotiations on it with the Armenian government.

The deal will serve as a substitute for an Association Agreement which Yerevan and Brussels were close to concluding in 2013. The Armenian side scuttled that agreement with a last-minute decision to seek membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). It has since been seeking to cut a less ambitious deal with the EU that would not contradict its EEU membership commitments.

Visiting Yerevan, in May 2014, French President Francois Hollande called for a “special model” of political association between the EU and Armenia.

Hollande will again travel to the Armenian capital next month to take part in official commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey. According to Charpentier, Armenia-EU ties will be on the agenda of his talks with President Serzh Sarkisian.

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