On 1 March 2016, RSC Director Richard Giragosian met with Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, during her visit to Armenia. Convened at the EU Delegation to Armenia, the RSC was among seven other civil society organizations to meet with the EU foreign policy official and in a meeting that lasted for nearly ninety minutes, presented and discussed a wide range of issues, ranging from the domestic situation in Armenia to broader regional developments.

The RSC director presented an overview of three mains areas. First, Giragosian noted the significance of the timing of the visit, explaining that the March 1st date was particularly meaningful for Armenia, as it marked the anniversary of the tragic clash between police and protesters that left ten dead in a serious post-election crisis. He added that due to the unresolved nature of that incident, including the failure to properly investigate and prosecute those responsible, it has only contributed to a deepening of polarization and a loss of public trust and confidence in the Armenian authorities.

He also stressed that the timing of the visit was further important as both a demonstration of Armenia’s strategic significance to the European Union (EU), but also an affirmation of the importance of the EU for Armenia.

His second point focused on the two positive trends in the broader South Caucasus, which he hailed as rare regional opportunities. These positive trends included the successful EU- and Western-negotiated nuclear deal with Iran and the potential for Turkey and Armenia to “normalize” relations with a reopening of the closed border and the establishment of diplomatic relations.

And concluding with a third point, Giragosian noted the concern over the serious escalation in hostilities and warfare over Nagorno-Karabakh, warning of the risk of “war by accident,” stemming from miscalculation.

During the discussion period, in response to a question from the EU delegation regarding our view of policy priorities regarding Armenia, Giragosian stressed the need for a better, improved and more coherent communications strategy, consisting of several elements: capable of articulating the clear benefits of EU ties to the ordinary Armenian citizen and consumer; a more effective strategy to define and defend what EU values and ideals are, and what they are not, especially in the face of Russian disinformation; and finally, a recognition that the EU is an important tool and instrument but that the EU is not the solution to our domestic problems or sufficient to overcome the lack of consistent and demonstrable political will for reform by the Armenian authorities.