ArmInfo. The EU funds to be invested in development of Armenia will be record high in 2016, Ambassador Piotr Switalski, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, says in an interview with ArmInfo.
The diplomat says that new projects are being discussed and that negotiations are being held with the Armenian Government regarding new large agreements. "We are now discussing issues related to reformation of the labor market, personnel training in the agrarian sector; we are negotiating to support the reformation of public funds. In addition, we are considering projects related to creation of a large irrigation system and we also want to participate in administrative reformation, implement big projects to support NGOs, as well as projects on introduction of e-governance in the field of justice. As you know, we also support small and medium-sized enterprises. This year, the EU is going to invest EUR 1 million in SME development. There are some major projects related to environmental protection, water purification, waste management," Ambassador Switalski says.
He notes that the scale of cooperation is quite extensive. A mid-term and long-term outlook of cooperation for 2017-2020 will be outlined this year. The European Union gives high priority to this task, because the entire programme of support for Armenia is based on the long-term outlook.
"Hopefully, we will manage to agree this cooperation programme with the Government by late 2016. We have also applied to the Armenian Government to hold joint discussions on the major infrastructure priorities, particularly, in power engineering, transport and communications. It important for the EU to know the Government's vision of cooperation in the specified areas, because they require big funds and they are long term oriented," the diplomat says. In this light, he notes that the EU financial aid to be provided to Armenia in 2016 will be record high. Usually, the aid amounts to nearly EUR 50 million, but this year the amount will be doubled.
At the same time, he stresses that two independent processes are going on between Armenia and the EU. The first process is the negotiations on the framework agreement, with the conclusion of the agreement to create a legal basis for cooperation. The second process is the definition of the so- called priorities of partnership, which stem from the new concept of neighborhood policy.
"This dialogue will start a little later. The first discussion will most likely commence in early summer and will make it possible to outline the prospects of partnership. There are also political aspects. But the Armenia-EU framework agreement has an international legal aspect, while the partnership priority is a political aspect related to provision of economic support to development," the diplomat says.