EASTERN PARTNERSHIP: NATIONAL & EUROPEAN DYNAMICS CONFERENCE IN YEREVAN (11 November 2011)
Yerevan hosted a conference entitled “Eastern Partnership: National & European Dynamics” that has been organized by the International Center for Human Development (Armenia) in cooperation with the EU delegation to Armenia. This is the 7th annual conference on European integration aimed at enhancing the role of civil society and NGOs in policy- and decision-making. Among the participants were delegates from Armenia, Czech Republic, Turkey European and international agencies.
Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Director, attended the Conference, also as Co-Chair of Civil Society Forum of EaP, and intervened with a speech on “The Role of Civil Society in European Integration: What are the formats and mechanisms enhancing its Input?”.
Speaking at the conference Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan said that the European direction has always been regarded as one of the imperatives of Armenian foreign policy. He recalled the words of the president that although Armenia does not set the task of joining the EU, it accepts European standards and the European rules of the game.
In general, it was at the conference that Europe will continue to support reforms in Armenia. Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Raul de Lutzenberger noted positive developments in the country.
“In the near future Armenia has an opportunity to distinguish itself in electoral processes during the elections of the parliament and the president. They will become a good indicator to identify progress in Armenia,” said the ambassador. At the same time, he stressed the importance of not so much EU economic as political assistance to Armenia.
Minister Nalbandyan stressed that as part of the Eastern Partnership program European structures provide technical and financial assistance to reforms in Armenia. He welcomed the principle put forward by Europe, which is “more support in exchange of more reforms”.
Nalbandyan pointed out that the text of the EU-Armenia Association Agreement is now being developed and a free trade agreement will become an important part of it. The issue of simplifying the visa regime is also under discussion.
In this regard, German Ambassador to Armenia Hans-Jochen Schmidt emphasized the importance of opening the Armenian-Turkish border as a stimulus for trade development in the context of free trade. He said that economic integration will lead to new developments that should not be shunned.
Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida stressed that the role of NGOs in EaP, is an important tool for EU rapprochement policies in the region and for the national policies in terms of democratisation and development. “ We have to work – she said – on composition and strength of civil society in EaP Countries, format and means of cooperation (networks, geographic and thematic approach) and room and methods from the European Union side”.