In an interview with the “1in.am” news agency, RSC Director Richard Giragosian assessed the significance of the first visit to Armenia by Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission.
In the interview, conducted in English but dubbed into Armenian, Giragosian noted that three specific factors that contributed to the significance of the visit. First, it is a reaffirmation of Armenia’s greater strategic significance to the European Union, especially as both Yerevan and Brussels have demonstrated a new degree of political will in capitalizing on a rare “second chance” to restore relations in the wake of the Armenian president’s 2013 decision to sacrifice Armenia’s Association Agreement with the EU in favor of committing the country to joining the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
A second factor demonstrating the significance of the Mogherini visit was the equally important reconfirmation of the significance of the EU to Armenia, and as an opportunity for Armenia to regain trust and restore confidence as an integral member in the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) programme.
Giragosian also highlighted a third factor, where the Mogherini visit is only the latest in a broader process of engagement between Armenia and the EU. He pointed to the recent visit to Armenia by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom in February 2016, and also noted that formal negotiations between Armenia and the EU over a new draft legal framework of relations officially opened on 7 December 2015 and was followed by a high-level Armenian government delegation visit, led by Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian, to Brussels for a session of the EU-Armenia Cooperation Council in late January 2016.
But the RSC Director added that despite the progress, the EU has made it clear that the Armenian government must “accelerate reforms in specific areas, notably democracy and the rule of law, anti-corruption, human rights and fundamental freedoms, constitutional and judicial reform.” Giragosian will also meet with the EU High Representative while she is in Yerevan, in his second meeting with Mogherini.