Washington briefing: Armenia, European Union discuss cooperation

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday October 31, 2009

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.

Washington - Three Caucasus foreign ministers arrived in Luxembourg for October 26-27 meetings with European Union officials intended to review cooperative programs and map out what comes next, RFE/RL reported.

Speaking on behalf of the EU presidency, Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt qualified the overall atmosphere as "very good," just as European officials are believed to have "given up" on achieving tangible democratic reforms in the Caucasus region.

Nevertheless, there is currently a small EU reform advisory group seconded to the Armenian government. And on October 29-30, European officials and experts will attend an international conference on EU's engagement with former Soviet states being hosted in Yerevan.

In Luxembourg, Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian emphasized Armenia's interest in "people-to-people contacts and [improved] visa arrangements for [Armenian] citizens."

Last May, the EU formally launched its Eastern Partnership program to engage with the Caucasus, as well as Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. While the EU has made clear that none of the Caucasus states can hope to join the union in the foreseeable future, they have offered more aid, as well as possibility of free trade agreements and, in the longer term, visa-free travel to EU states.

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