A senior European Union diplomat reportedly praised on Friday “ambitious” reforms promised by Prime Minister Karen Karapetian, saying that the EU stands ready to support them through more economic assistance to Armenia.
“We strongly support your reform agenda,” an Armenian government statement quoted Piotr Switalski, the head of the EU Delegation in Yerevan, as telling Karapetian. “With the help of external experts, we have thoroughly analyzed your reform program. It is an ambitious program.”
“Now we are thinking about how to harmonize our efforts with your reform agenda. We wish to invest money where you think the reforms will be effective,” Switalski added, according to the statement.
“I want to assure you that we know how to change the country as we are well aware of our problems and shortcomings,” Karapetian was reported to say for his part.
A separate short statement by the EU delegation said the two men discussed “EU-funded programs and projects to support economic development of Armenia.” It gave no details.
Karapetian already met with Switalski and the Yerevan-based ambassadors of key EU member states in July to discuss his government’s five-year policy program approved by Armenia’s newly elected parliament. The program calls for major reforms aimed at improving the socioeconomic situation in Armenia. It specifically commits the government to reforming the domestic investment climate, assisting export-oriented manufacturers and combatting corruption.
Karapetian has repeatedly promised to implement such reforms since being appointed prime minister in September last year. A senior official from the International Monetary Fund described his cabinet as “reform-minded” in April.
Armenian opposition politicians dismiss the premier’s economic agenda, however. They say, in particular, that wealthy businesspeople close to the government continue to enjoy a monopoly on lucrative imports of essential goods and commodities. Some of them have also argued that it is still unclear whether Karapetian will retain his post after President Serzh Sarkisian’s final term expires in April 2018.
According to Karapetian’s press office, the premier also discussed with Switalski on Friday preparations for the signing later this year of a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the EU and Armenia.