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Armenia limits its EU cooperation

07 February 2014 [09:00] - TODAY.AZ
By AzerNews

The EU Advisory Group which operates since 2008 may terminate its operation in Armenia.

"The mandate of the Group which expires in spring 2014 will not be extended," said a representative of the Group.

Armenia is on the way to lose the EU's support for reforms which are vitally important for the country.

The spheres of cooperation between Armenia and the EU seem to get limited significantly due-to Armenia's preference for the Customs Union.

The recent decision by Armenia to put joining the Moscow-led Customs Union at the top of is priorities for 2014 has slowed down the process of integration of the country into EU.

The decision was made amid expectation that a new agenda of cooperation between the EU and Armenia would be approved after Yerevan's signing the EU Association Agreement on November 2013. Armenia decided not to sign the agreement.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan recently said the EU membership has never been on Armenia's agenda.

"We have been productively cooperating in a number of spheres for a long time and we are about to continue our relations. I mean reforms in spheres such as reinforcement of democratic institutions, protection of human rights and others," he stressed.

The EU Advisors render advisory assistance to state agencies of Armenia. The EU Advisory Group cooperates with the Armenian state agencies in the areas of anti-corruption strategy, administrative reforms, human rights, state debt management, customs administration and establishment and operation of the Diplomatic Academy.

In particular, the EU Advisory Group considerably supported the process of drafting a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement which was left out of the agenda after Armenia's decision to join the CU.

The high level of corruption and emigration, poverty and unemployment are the main challenges for Armenian authorities. The country is likely to lose EU's support to achieve real reforms in these main spheres in the new future.

Armenia still lacks political will for reforms. Over the past years, the international organization Transparency International has expressed serious concern regarding corruption in Armenia in its reports, while the country has taken no step to fight corruption.

Armenia is behind even some African countries in terms of fight against corruption. The corrupt spheres are judiciary, health, and regulation of public services.

The growth in labor migration starting from the end of 1990s has not reduced so far. Eighty-five percent of Armenian migrants leave their homeland due to lack of jobs. Forty-five percent of all migrants leave Armenia on their own initiative, while the remaining 55 percent are those having a job invitation. The main part of Armenian migrants (98.6 percent) chose Russia as final destination.

Over the last six years 213,000 Armenian citizens have left their homeland, the National Statistics Office recently reported. As many as 32,205 people emigrated from Armenia in 2013.

The private transfers to Armenia from abroad amounted to $1.6 billion in 2013, which increased by 11 percent compared to 2012. Eighty-six percent of the transfers were from Russia, where the main part of Armenian migrants earn money. The amount of transfers from Russia to Armenia annually totals to $3 billion.

In Armenia, there is an imitation of reforms, Varuzhan Hoktanyan, Director of Transparency International Armenia Anti-Corruption Center said recently.

It is quite predictable that, Armenia will lack the opportunities even to imitate reforms, after losing the EU's support due-to Yerevan's choice.
URL: http://www.today.az/news/analytics/130689.html

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