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Euro-Armenian relations
European Union   Armenia
Map indicating location of European Union and Armenia
     European Union      Armenia
Armenia

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
Armenia


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Armenia and the European Union have maintained positive relations over the years.

Contents

Armenia-EU relations

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) (signed in 1996 and in force since 1999) serves as the legal framework for EU-Armenia bilateral relations. Since 2004, Armenia and the other South Caucasus states have been part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, encouraging closer ties between Armenia and the EU. An ENP Action Plan for Armenia was published on 2 March 2005, "highlighting areas in which bilateral cooperation could feasibly and valuably be strengthened." The plan sets "jointly defined priorities in selected areas for the next five years." In November 2005, formal consultations on the Action Plan were opened in Yerevan and as of 2008 are ongoing.[1]

Opinions

There is a lot of interest in Armenia eventually joining the European Union, especially among several prominent Armenian politicians[2] and the general public in Armenia.[3] However, former President Robert Kocharyan, has said he will keep Armenia tied to Russia and the CSTO for now, remaining partners, not members of the EU and NATO.[4] It is unclear what position President Serzh Sargsyan will take on the issue.

According to Artur Baghdasarian, head of the Rule of Law party and former speaker of the Azgayin Zhoghov, Armenian membership in the European Union "should be one of the key priorities" of the country's "present and future foreign policy." Baghdasarian believes that "EU membership will open new avenues for Armenia to move to a new geopolitical milieu as well as a new economic environment." He also added that it "will enable Armenia to have access to a completely new security system."[2] EU membership is on the agenda of many political parties in Armenia including the pro-Western Heritage party.[5]

Public opinion in Armenia suggests that membership would be welcomed, with 64% out of a sample of 2,000 being in favour and only 11.8% being against.[3] Another poll conducted in the Armenian capital Yerevan suggested that "as many as 72% of city residents believe, with varying degrees of conviction, that their country's future lies with the EU rather than the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)."[3] Still, more than two-thirds of the country's population believes that Armenia will not be ready to join the EU until at least 2015.[3] A 2007 opinion poll indicated an increase in Armenian EU interest with 80% of the Armenian public favoring eventual membership.[6]

Armenia's former Minister of Foreign Affairs Vardan Oskanyan reiterated in 2005 that "Armenia is Europe. This is a fact, it's not a response to a question." [1]. Torben Holtze, head of the European Commission's representation in Armenia and Georgia and Ambassador of the European Union with residence in Tbilisi, stated recently: "As a matter of principle, Armenia is a European country and like other European states it has the right to be a EU member provided it meets necessary standards and criteria."[7] On 12 January 2002, the European Parliament noted that Armenia and Georgia may enter the EU in the future.[7]

Present situation

Armenia is still in conflict over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh with neighbouring Azerbaijan, which owns the territory de jure. During the 1990s, the majority Armenian region declared their independence after holding a referendum and engaged in a full-scale war against Azerbaijan with Armenian aid. Since 1994, a ceasefire has been in place, but tensions remain very high. Azerbaijan refuses to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh at any level and thus Armenia represents the region in the peace negotiations. Bako Sahakyan, the current president of Nagorno-Karabakh, pledged to seek full independence of the region, using the example that international recognition of Kosovo as an independent state would pave the way for acceptance of Nagorno-Karabakh's sovereignty.[8]

Despite suffering an earthquake in 1988 and a blockade by neighboring Turkey and Azerbaijan over Karabakh, the Armenian economy has one of the world's fastest growth rates, ranking at 9th place in 2008. However, this comes off a low base and many years of near-continuous recession.[9] In the 2006 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Armenia ranked 93rd of 163 countries.[10] Armenia ranked 80th on the 2006 UNDP Human Development Index, the highest among the Transcaucasian republics.[11] In the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom, Armenia ranked 28th, ahead of a number of EU members such as Austria, France, Portugal and Italy.[12]

The Metsamor nuclear power plant, which is situated some 40 km west of Yerevan, is built on top of an active seismic zone and is a matter of negotiation between Armenia and the EU. Towards the end of 2007, Armenia approved a plan to shut down the Metsamor plant in compliance with the New European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan.[13]

See also

References

  1. ^ Armenia and the EU
  2. ^ a b "Interview with RA National Assembly Speaker Artur Baghdasaryan". ArmInfo News Agency. 2005-09-26. http://www.arminfo.am/political-issue22.html. Retrieved 2007-06-25.  
  3. ^ a b c d Saghabalian, Anna (2005-01-07). "Poll Finds Strong Support For Armenian Entry Into EU". Radio Free Europe. http://www.rferl.org/reports/caucasus-report/2005/01/1-070105.asp. Retrieved 2007-06-25.  
  4. ^ "Armenia Not to Join NATO, EU: President". ChinaView. 2006-04-24. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-04/24/content_4468385.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-25.  
  5. ^ Heritage Party Proclamation
  6. ^ Armenia Says Not Aiming For NATO, EU Membership
  7. ^ a b Juergen-Zahorka, Hans. "How Armenia Could Approach the European Union". LIBERTAS - Europaeisches Institut GmbH. http://www.libertas-institut.com/de/PDF/Armenia%20ante%20portas.pdf. Retrieved December 23, 2006.  
  8. ^ Bako Saakian wins presidential election in Nagorno-Karabakh - Herald Tribune
  9. ^ Markarian, Atom (2006-06-19). "IMF Heaps More Praise On Armenia". ArmeniaLiberty, Radio Free Europe. http://www.armenialiberty.org/armeniareport/report/en/2006/06/78236A02-837E-4301-ADD0-54D8AB01BA56.ASP. Retrieved 2007-06-25.  
  10. ^ "Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2006". http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2006.  
  11. ^ "2007/2008 Reports - Armenia". UNDP. http://hdrstats.undp.org/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_ARM.html.  
  12. ^ "Index of Economic Freedom 2008". The Heritage Foundation. http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/.  
  13. ^ "2007 Review: Foreign policy and the pursuit of Nagorno-Karabakh settlement". ArmeniaNow.com. 2008-01-11. http://armenianow.com/?action=viewArticle&AID=2704&CID=2669&IID=&lng=eng. Retrieved 2008-01-16.  

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