5 Apr 2024 20:32

EU, U.S. intend to closely cooperate with Armenia, give it political, economic, humanitarian support - Armenian govt

YEREVAN. April 5 (Interfax) - Senior European Union and United States officials have reaffirmed support for Armenia's sovereignty, democracy, territorial integrity, and socioeconomic stability at a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the Armenian government said.

The consultations attended by Pashinyan, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice President Josep Borrell, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power were held in Brussels on Friday.

"We aim to expand cooperation to strengthen Armenia's resilience, including in key sectors such [as] political reforms, economic development and humanitarian support. We will look to expand our partnerships, for example, in mobility, governance, law enforcement, trade, connectivity, agriculture, energy, and technology," a press release issued following the meeting said.

The EU and the U.S. envisage stronger cooperation with Armenia to support these key sectors, it said.

The EU and the U.S. also appreciated progress that Armenia has made since 2018 in pursuing democratic and justice reforms and in countering corruption. They reaffirmed their commitment to continued partnership with and support for Armenia.

"The EU will continue to support Armenia on its reform path through the implementation of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA). In order to boost reforms and enhance cooperation in all areas, the EU and Armenia will make headway on the new EU-Armenia Partnership Agenda," it said.

The U.S. also reaffirmed its commitment to helping Armenia and Prime Minister Pashinyan carry out planned reforms. In this context, the Biden Administration along with the U.S. Congress plan to provide over $65 million in development assistance to Armenia in the 2023 fiscal year, it said.

The EU and the U.S. welcomed Armenia's determination to improve connectivity with the outside world, including the Crossroads of Peace initiative, which should promote common prosperity and help diversify regional economy and trade.

The EU intends to put forward a 270-million-euro Resilience and Growth Plan for Armenia for the period 2024-2027 to bolster the new EU-Armenia Partnership Agenda, it said.

"The EU's Resilience and Growth Plan for Armenia will aim at building up Armenia's socio-economic resilience, while supporting trade diversification. It will contribute to the long-term needs of displaced people. It will strengthen sectoral cooperation with Armenia, while stepping up support to regulatory alignment to unlock the full potential of the CEPA. The EU will continue to support key sectors from trade diversification, infrastructure development, energy, to aviation safety," it said.

During the meeting, von der Leyen mentioned the benefits of the Economic and Investment Plan launched in 2021, which has mobilized over 550 million euros in investments through grants, blending and guarantees in Armenia and under which the EU's Resilience and Growth Plan should step up support for strategic investments, particularly on connectivity infrastructure in transport, digital technology and energy, and invest in business development to boost jobs and economic growth, it said.

The U.S. will work together with Armenia to attract further American investment, streamline technology trade opportunities, step up cooperation on cybersecurity, and expand technology infrastructure, it said.

The U.S. is working to support energy diversification and explore new civil nuclear power options prioritizing the highest possible nuclear security, safety, and nonproliferation standards, it said.

Considering the challenges that Armenia is facing in supporting and socially integrating over 100,000 displaced persons and refugees, the EU and the U.S. are determined to continue backing Armenia in its efforts to provide housing, training, employment opportunities, and psycho-social support to those who need it, as well as ensure dignified living conditions for displaced persons, it said.

The EU has mobilized 18 million euros in humanitarian support and another 15 million euros in budget support since September 2023 to respond to the emergency and socioeconomic needs of refugees in Armenia, bringing the total amount of humanitarian aid it has provided to the affected population since 2020 to 38.4 million euros, it said.

At the same time, the EU supports Armenia in meeting long-term needs of refugees, as well, it said.

Similarly, the U.S. has announced more than $7 million in humanitarian support for displaced persons and refugees in Armenia since September 2023, which brings the total amount of U.S. humanitarian assistance to nearly $31 million since September 2020, it said.