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 Thursday, March 16 2023 11:57
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan should use historic opportunity to  solve Nagorno-Karabakh conflict - Oliver Varhelyi

Leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan should use historic opportunity to  solve Nagorno-Karabakh conflict - Oliver Varhelyi

ArmInfo. Below is a speech delivered by Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, on behalf of High-Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, at the EU Plenary. 

"Madam President, Honourable Members of this house. 

"Let me thank the Rapporteur, Mr [Andrej] Kovatchev, and all Members  who have contributed to the report on EU-Armenia relations that we  are discussing today. Your report provides a good overview of the  challenges the country faces.  

"Armenia is a country that has suffered a double crisis - the 2020  war and the Covid pandemic. 

"Moreover, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Armenia finds  itself in a difficult position, having to rely for its security on a  country that is carrying out an unprovoked aggression against its  neighbour. 

"In this context, Armenia is looking toward the European Union as a  fundamental partner. Given steady progress on reforms in democracy,  fundamental freedoms, rule of law and the fight against corruption,  Armenia deserves our full support. 

"Our Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement is the  blueprint for Armenia's domestic reforms agenda. It has now been  fully in force for over two years.  

"The Economic and Investment Plan has the potential to mobilise over  ?2.6 billion in public and private investments, and it is already  delivering in Armenia through developing green connectivity, energy  efficiency and as well as supporting SMEs and supporting  socio-economic development. 

"Of course, as your report rightly points out, much still needs to be  done, when it comes to the functioning of the justice sector, fight  against discrimination, gender equality, but also the protection of  vulnerable groups, and to tackle foreign disinformation. We have an  in-depth regular dialogue with Armenian authorities on all these  issues. 

"The report calls to further enhance EU-Armenia economic and trade  relations. The EU-Armenia but also Armenia-Russia trade flows have  increased several folds since the EU imposed additional sanctions on  Russia. While we welcome our more intensive exchanges with Armenia,  due to its geographic location, it is also one of the partner  countries we intend to cooperate more closely with the aim to prevent  the circumvention of sanctions.   

"The European Union is also actively involved in facilitating  dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  We remain committed to  continue acting as an honest broker to help achieve the common goal  of a secure, prosperous and peaceful South Caucasus, for the benefit  of all its people. 

"The President of the European Council [Charles Michel], supported by  the European External Action Service (EEAS) and our Special  Representative [Toivo Klaar], is personally invested in this. We also  have regular contacts with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both  countries on this. 

"The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan should use the historic  opportunity to solve this conflict for good and return to the  substantial dialogue, as many important questions need still to be  solved urgently. 

"One such urgent issue is the obstruction of movement in the Lachin  corridor. Since the beginning of December, the European Union has  mobilised all diplomatic efforts to solve this situation. The ongoing  restrictions to freedom of movement and to the supply of vital goods  are causing serious distress for the local population. As the deadly  incident of 5 March showed, the situation in this area is flammable. 

"Finally, I would like to mention the full-fledged civilian CSDP  mission [EU Mission in Armenia] that the EU has established in  Armenia since January. Among others, the mission observes and reports  on the security situation on the ground. This is yet another concrete  and essential element in the European Union's efforts to support the  peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

"Thank you very much for your attention."

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