The two top European Union officials met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in Brussels on Thursday, reaffirming the EU’s readiness to help Armenia’s new government implement sweeping reforms promised by it.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, held separate talks with him on the sidelines of a NATO summit. Pashinian’s press office said they both praised the recent democratic change of Armenia’s government.
“What happened in Armenia was special and, I would say, very European,” it quoted Tusk as saying of the mass protests that brought Pashinian to power in May. “Your example is very promising and you can count on EU assistance in implementing reforms.”
“First, good meeting with PM Pashinian to discuss EU-Armenia relations,” Tusk tweeted after the meeting.
Pashinian assured Tusk and Juncker that his cabinet is committed to democratizing Armenia’s political system, strengthening the rule of law and combatting corruption. “One of the main priorities of our government is to continue the fight against corruption in Armenia launched about two months ago,” he told Juncker.
The Armenian premier also met with the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, late on Wednesday.
“The two discussed the new Armenian government's clear commitment to reform and the concrete action already taken to this end,” said a spokeswoman for Mogherini, Maja Kocijancic. Mogherini reiterated that the EU stands ready to “provide concrete support to reforms, including through technical and financial assistance,” she said.
Mogherini similarly voiced “full support” for the Pashinian government’s “very ambitious” reform agenda after holding talks with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian late last month.
The EU is due to provide 160 million euros ($185 million) in assistance to Armenia over the next four years in accordance with the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed with the previous Armenian government last November. EU officials have not said whether it could increase that aid allocation to support to the new authorities in Yerevan.
Speaking to reporters at the end of his two-day visit to Brussels, Pashinian complained that the EU has still not promised extra aid to his government. He said he “expressed bewilderment” at this fact in his first talks with EU leaders.
“In essence, after the revolution there were very warm statements [of support for the new Armenian leadership,] but there has been no policy change,” he said. “Frankly, I made it clear to our partners that this is not quite understandable and acceptable. But then again, we are not acting like solicitors. It’s up to them to decide what policies to pursue.”
“We specifically expect more concrete and greater assistance,” stressed the premier.