PR PCE 35
Remarks by Herman Van Rompuy,
President of the European Council,
following the meeting with Serzh Sargsyan,
President of the Republic of Armenia
I am happy to welcome President Sargsyan to Brussels. Last time we saw each other was in Warsaw at the Eastern Partnership summit. And like last time, we had a good discussion on a wide range of issues of the bilateral and regional agenda.
I would like to make three short points:
First. As you know, the EU is, at its heart, a community of values. Ultimately, these values guide our policies, and these values are reflected in our approach to partners, in this case to Armenia as to the other countries in the Eastern partnership.
I was therefore happy to welcome your, Mr President, commitment to reforms. We encourage Armenia to continue on the path of reforms. This provides the basis for the deepening and broadening of our bilateral relationship. It also shows your readiness to engage with the EU in an "EU-Armenian Partnership for reform".
I was also happy to hear that you once again confirmed your intention to do all you can to ensure that the Parliamentary elections in May and the Presidential elections next year will be conducted in conformity with international standards.
Second. There is good progress being made in the bilateral EU-Armenia relationship. The Association Agreement negotiations continue to progress at good pace. The EU side has been able to give the green light to launch negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.
And, a couple of days ago, negotiations were launched on Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements, as a first step towards visa liberalization.
And third. On the region and the challenges for a peaceful settlement: It is well known that the EU wants to see progress on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which remains a high priority of the EU’s foreign policy. Progress is crucially important.
In this regard, the EU reiterates its support for the Madrid principles and calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to step up their efforts to reach agreement on those principles as a basis for peace.
The increased tension along the Line of Contact, is a reason for concern, and underlines the importance of steps to implement the ceasefire and to adopt appropriate confidence building measures.