Tusk: 2015 Will Become Crucial Year for EU-Armenia Relations
YEREVAN (A.W.)—During his visit to Armenia on a three-day tour of the South Caucasus, European Council (EC) President Donald Franciszek Tusk said that Armenia can count on the European Union’s continued support to advance a whole range of political and social reforms, and to improve the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“The European Union supports the work of civil society in Armenia and I encourage a closer involvement of the civil society in the reform process to broaden the perspective and ensure common ownership,” said Tusk, who also made his second visit to the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial during his one-day visit to Yerevan on July 20.
In a press conference with President Serge Sarkisian, Tusk said that the EU respects Armenia’s integration choice and is ready to expand relations with the country, adding that 2015 “will become a crucial year in our [EU-Armenia] relations.”
Tusk also announced the successful completion of the first round of negotiations on a comprehensive agreement on Armenia-EU relations and praised Armenia’s fulfillment of its obligations on mobility and visa liberation. “The free visa regime is a final objective. I hope that the next step will be made in upcoming months,” stressed Tusk.
Tusk also said that he and Sarkisian had discussed the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, and stated his concerns about what he called “recent negative trends” in the conflict. “The peaceful resolution of this conflict remains a priority for the EU,” said Rusk, who added that the EU will continue to support the negotiations aimed at settling the conflict led by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group.
Tusk expressed his gratitude for a second opportunity to visit the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial, saying that his second visit to the memorial was as emotional as his first.
Tusk visited Tsitsernakaberd earlier on July 20 accompanied by Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister Edward Nalbandian, Deputy Foreign Minister Karen Nazaryan, and Deputy Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Suren Manukyan. The delegation laid wreaths at the memorial and toured the newly renovated museum.
Tusk had planned to visit the region on July 14-16, but had to postpone the trip due to the Greek debt crisis. During his visit to the South Caucasus, Tusk will also visit Georgia and Azerbaijan.