CEPA implementation of paramount importance to Armenia's reforms - PM
Implementation of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the European Union is of tremendous importance for the success of Armenia’s reforms, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in an address to the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
“The value and the attractiveness of this initiative are in achieving its objectives exclusively through the implementation of reforms. CEPA is a reform-generating tool. The fulfillment of its provisions will entail qualitative changes in many areas of our society,” the Prime Minister said.
He assured that the Government of Armenia is resolute to take all necessary measures to implement the CEPA.
“We are determined to conduct an active and fruitful cooperation with the European Union in all areas of mutual interest,” he stated.
He noted that an early ratification of the CEPA by the EU Member States is crucial for its complete entry into force and further enhancement of the bilateral relations.
The Agreement has so far been ratified by only half-third of the member states. PM Pashinyan voiced hope that the rest will follow suit in the near future. On this matter we very much count on the Parliament's support and your personal contribution.
Within the framework of Armenia-EU cooperation agenda, the Prime Minister highlighted the Visa liberalization dialogue. He said opening of the process will greatly contribute to the people-to-people contacts and to bilateral cooperation in general.
Nikol Pashinyan added that financial and technical assistance of the European Union remains critically important for Armenia.
“We need your support to make robust steps in implementing our reforms. It is obvious that an enhanced assistance of the European Union will help us move forward in a more resolute and decisive way. The wider the scope of the assistance the faster and smoother the pace of our reforms,” he stated.
The Prime Minister said geopolitical and security risks continue to mar the South Caucasus and seriously undermine Armenia’s reform potential.
“First, the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the existing tension in our region create political risks which are significantly affecting the investment attractiveness of our country and the region as a whole,” Pashinyan stated.
Second, he added, “arms race unleashed by our opponents poses additional difficulties for the region of South Caucasus.”
“Today, Armenia has to allocate a large portion of its scarce resources to maintain the peace in the region. It is Armenia which actually bears the economic burden of keeping the existing balance and preventing another outburst of hostilities,” Pashinyan noted.
Third, he said, closed borders and the continuing transport blockade, imposed on Armenia since early 1990s, sharply reduces the possibilities of diversifying our economy.
And finally, he noted, the sanctions against Iran are also having negative consequences on our economy reducing the availability of one of two corridors connecting Armenia to the rest of the world.
The Prime Minister hailed the constructive and balanced approach of the European Union on the Karabakh issue.
“It is our view that the international community should continue to support the peace efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group, especially by sending clear message that the use of force is impermissible,” he said.
Pashinyan voiced confidence that the path to resolution of the conflict lies through the understanding of the need for the respect of the right of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to self-determination.
“People of this mountainous region have lived in de facto independence for more than two decades. There is a generation of young people there who cannot imagine any alternative to the independence,” he noted.
“If we seek a peaceful, just and lasting solution to the conflict, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh should be allowed to define their future by themselves,” he added.
Nikol Pashinyan added that he is not representing the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. As the Prime Minister of Armenia and only has the mandate of the citizens of Armenia, but not the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh who have their own constitution and form their own Government.
“It is obvious for me that the peace process could produce a real progress only if the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have a seat at the negotiation table; only if the voice of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh is heard and taken into account,” he stated.