Armenia needs “deep and comprehensive” reforms and the European Union is ready to assist in their implementation, the head of the EU Delegation in Yerevan, Piotr Switalski, said on Friday.
“We agree that Armenia is now at a critical juncture,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Armenia is facing big challenges and I think the awareness that Armenia needs deep and comprehensive reforms is very universal.”
Switalski pointed to a recent statement by President Serzh Sarkisian that acknowledged the need for major political and economic reforms in the country. “We are ready to assist,” he said.
“But any political force in Armenia, if it wants to conduct reforms and move Armenia further, needs very strong legitimacy,” added Switalski. “For any political force, there is no better source of legitimacy than elections which are considered by the population as reflecting its will, as free and fair.”
The Sarkisian administration has pledged to ensure that Armenia’s next parliamentary elections due in April 2017 are democratic through a landmark agreement that was signed with three major opposition parties early this week. The agreement commits the Armenian authorities to taking a set of specific measures to prevent serious electoral fraud.
The EU swiftly welcomed that deal. “The EU stands ready to assist, also financially, in the implementation of this important agreement,” its commissioner for European neighborhood policy, Johannes Hahn, said on Wednesday.
Switalski echoed that assessment, saying that Armenia “can really be proud”of the election accord and a political dialogue that preceded it. “I think that this dialogue between the government coalition and the opposition parties proved that Armenian political culture can be very mature, that Armenian political stakeholders, despite very obvious and very deep differences and disagreements, can sit at one table and in the interests of Armenia can work together to prepare a joint solution, a compromise,” he said.
In Switalski’s words, the EU support reflects the 28-nation bloc’s “strategic goal” in Armenia and the broader region. “All we want is a stable, resilient and prosperous Armenia,” the diplomat said.