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Procedure : 2017/2269(INI)
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Document selected : A8-0179/2018

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PV 03/07/2018 - 25
CRE 03/07/2018 - 25

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PV 04/07/2018 - 6.4
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Wednesday, 4 July 2018 - Strasbourg Final edition
Partnership Agreement between the EU and EAEC and Armenia (resolution)

European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 4 July 2018 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the Union, of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part (12543/2017 – C8-0422/2017 – 2017/0238(NLE)2017/2269(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (12543/2017),

–  having regard to the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part (12548/2017),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 37 of the Treaty on European Union and in accordance with Article 91, Article 100(2) and Articles 207 and 209, Article 218(6), the second subparagraph, point (a), Article 218(7) and Article 218(8), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0422/2017),

–  having regard to its relevant resolutions on EU-Armenia relations,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2017 on the Annual report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy(1),

–  having regard to the joint declarations of the Eastern Partnership summits, notably that agreed in 2017 in Brussels,

–  having regard to the joint communications from the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) on the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), notably the report of 18 May 2017 on the implementation of the ENP review (JOIN(2017)0018) and the joint working document of 9 June 2017 entitled ‘Eastern Partnership – 20 Deliverables for 2020: Focusing on key priorities and tangible results’ (SWD(2017)0300), as well as the 2016 communication on ‘A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign And Security Policy’,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in the Eastern Neighbourhood and, in particular, its recommendation of 15 November 2017 to the Council, the Commission and the EEAS on the Eastern Partnership, in the run-up to the November 2017 Summit(2), and to its resolution of 15 April 2015 on the centenary of the Armenian Genocide(3),

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 4 July 2018(4) on the draft decision,

–  having regard to the Partnership Priorities between the European Union and Armenia, signed on 21 February 2018,

–  having regard to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 99(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0179/2018),

A.  whereas the current framework for relations between Armenia and the European Union is the 1996 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which entered into force in 1999 and is to be replaced by the proposed Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA);

B.  whereas, through the Eastern Partnership, the EU and Armenia have based their relations on a shared commitment to international law and fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law and good governance, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

C.  whereas there remain concerns about Armenia’s full respect for some of the above-mentioned core values, notably as regards democracy and the rule of law, which are being undermined by corruption, vote-buying, organised crime and abusive oligarchic control;

D.  whereas the geographic location of Armenia between Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East and neighbouring regional powers, notably Russia, Iran and Turkey, is both strategic and challenging; whereas the non-recognition by some of past tragedies, notably the Armenian genocide, the presence of foreign troops in Armenia as well as the protracted conflicts in the southern Caucasus, affecting also Azerbaijan and Georgia, pose a major threat to all partners’ security and regional stability; whereas the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can only be solved peacefully in line with the OSCE 2009 Basic Principles, notably through the efforts and proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group Co‑Chairs;

E.  whereas the EU is Armenia’s main trading partner and most important donor; whereas Armenia is also a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, thus demonstrating that the EU does not make it a prerequisite that partners should have to choose a deepening of relations with the EU at the expense of their relations with third parties, even if some opportunities - such as a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the EU - were not attainable in this context;

F.  whereas the new agreement sets a new legal basis to reinvigorate the political dialogue and broaden the scope of economic cooperation, as well as cooperation in sectors such as energy, transport, infrastructure and the environment; whereas these provisions are expected to have a positive impact on Armenia in terms of promoting democratic standards, economic growth and sustainable development; whereby such prospects are particularly important for Armenia’s, youth including through improved education and more job opportunities; whereas both EU and Armenian citizens stand to benefit from increased cooperation;

1.  Warmly welcomes the signature of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement, which constitutes a significant step forward in EU-Armenian relations and embodies a commitment to a further deepening of political and economic relations;

2.  Notes that the signing of the Agreement is not the end point in terms of EU-Armenian cooperation; emphasises, rather, the importance of swift and effective implementation before moving on to consider the potential for further enhancing cooperation and integration between the two parties, at a pace and on a scale mutually agreeable to both;

3.  Recalls that significant progress in terms of upholding core values such as the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as a functioning democratic system defending the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and delivering concrete results in the fight against corruption, is key to unlocking further prospects for cooperation; in this respect, looks forward to the EU considering, in due course, the opening of visa liberalisation dialogue with Armenia, provided that the conditions for well-managed and secure mobility are in place, including the effective implementation of visa facilitation and readmission agreements between the parties;

4.  Applauds the citizens of Armenia for the transition of power in April and May 2018 which took place peacefully and led to a change in government in accordance with the Constitution of Armenia; welcomes the restraint shown by the law enforcement bodies, but expresses concern over the unjustified arrests of peaceful demonstrators, including Members of Parliament; warmly congratulates Nikol Pashinyan on his election as the new Prime Minister of Armenia; looks forward to increasing cooperation with him, his government and the National Assembly, not least to support them in fulfilling the expectations of Armenian society as voiced during the demonstrations, and expresses its readiness to observe future parliamentary elections in Armenia;

Scope, general principles, core values and commitment to conflict resolution

5.  Stresses that the territorial application of the Agreement covers, on the one hand, the territories in which the Treaty of the European Union, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community are applied and under the conditions laid down in those treaties, and, on the other hand, the territory of the Republic of Armenia; calls on the Commission to ensure that no products are exported illegally to the EU via Armenia;

6.  Notes that the Agreement is in keeping with the spirit and principles expressed in the European Parliament recommendation of 15 November 2017, which unambiguously states that no comprehensive agreement will be ratified with a country that does not respect the EU’s values of democracy, the rule of law, good governance, and human rights and fundamental freedoms; urges the Armenian authorities nevertheless to ensure, with the support of the EU, that there is no backsliding on those values, since this could trigger suspension of the application of the Agreement through its Article 379; reiterates that EU financial assistance to Armenia remains conditional on the implementation and quality of reforms;

7.  Encourages Armenia to swiftly adopt and implement mutually agreed reforms, in particular concerning the stability of the electoral system, the independence of the judiciary, and transparency in the governance of state institutions, notably in the context of the EU-Armenia partnership priorities, which should act as a guiding framework for the implementation of the Agreement, in order to deliver tangible and positive results for Armenian citizens;

8.  Emphasises the utmost importance of the meaningful involvement and inclusion of relevant civil society organisations during this implementation phase, including through the new Civil Society Platform established by the Agreement, going beyond the limited obligations to keep civil society representatives informed and to exchange views with them, as currently foreseen in Article 366 of the Agreement; recalls that the civil society organisations involved should reflect the broadest possible range of political and social interests;

9.  Calls on the Commission to follow through on the conditionality of the EU’s financial assistance by systematically linking EU support – including through the European Neighbourhood Instrument, macrofinancial assistance and other instruments – to the effective implementation of reforms, progress in which should be the subject of thorough monitoring;

10.  Notes that the Agreement is also in keeping with the spirit and principles expressed in the European Parliament recommendation of 15 November 2017, including as regards making the ratification of a new agreement with Armenia or Azerbaijan conditional on meaningful commitment to and substantial progress towards resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; urges both sides to increase, in good faith, the pace and output of their negotiations following the 2018 elections in both countries, in order to make history by ending a conflict which cannot be solved militarily yet has claimed too many lives, especially of civilians, and which has not only prevented the establishment of peace and stability, but also hampered socio-economic development in the region for almost three decades; expresses deep concern at the military build-up and the disproportionate defence spending in the region; supports all initiatives conducive to peace and to developing good neighbourly relations, including high-level talks and a ceasefire monitoring mechanism, and calls on the EEAS and the Commission to increase EU support for programmes to enable increased contacts between Armenian and Azerbaijani NGOs and youth organisations, while ensuring that EU Member States avoid indirect exports of dual-use goods and technology to parties to the conflict;

Political reform

11.  Calls on both Armenia and the EU to attach a high priority to domestic reforms, as outlined in Article 4, so as to ensure in particular a smooth transition from a presidential to a parliamentary system and the non-politicisation of state institutions; encourages the Armenian government to ensure that major reforms – such as those related to the structure and activities of the government or to the criminal code – are subject to greater transparency and to an inclusive dialogue with the opposition and civil society, in the interests of Armenian society at large;

12.  Emphasises the need to ensure a level playing field for the opposition and an environment in which civil society, including media representatives and human rights defenders can operate free from fear of reprisals; calls on Armenia, in this context, to ensure a swift and fair trial for all prisoners, including Andreas Ghukasyan, free from any political considerations; calls on the Armenian authorities to ensure that journalists face no pressure or fear of retaliation or violence over their work and that the right to freedom of assembly is upheld, and to refrain from excessive use of force and pressure such as unjustified criminal charges against peaceful protesters and protest leaders; calls for impartial investigations and fair trials in all cases, including as regards past disproportionate actions of the police against peaceful protesters and in the ‘Sasna Tsrer’ case, during which the police seriously hampered the work of defence lawyers;

13.  Urges the Armenian authorities, with a view to future elections, to swiftly and fully implement all the recommendations of the international observation missions led by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), as highlighted in their final report, in particular in relation to allegations of vote-buying, voter intimidation, pressuring of civil servants and private-sector employees, and undue interference in the voting process by party representatives or law enforcement officers resulting in failure to improve public confidence in the country’s electoral system;

14.  Encourages Armenia to implement the recommendations of the Venice Commission, such as those in its 2017 opinion on the Draft Judicial Code, according to which the Code has implemented positive changes brought by the constitutional reform, but contains gaps and inconsistencies which need to be addressed;

The rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms

15.  Reiterates its strong attachment to international law and fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law and good governance, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and encourages Armenia to make significant progress in these areas, in particular as regards media freedom, the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption, organised crime, money laundering, tax evasion, nepotism and abusive oligarchic control; encourages the Armenian authorities to start a deep and genuine process of economic reforms with a view to overcoming the current oligarchic structure and eliminating the relevant monopolies; encourages the Armenian authorities to continue to consistently act on the country’s obligations as a State Party to the UN Convention against Torture in order to prevent, prosecute and punish violations;

16.  Regrets that violence based on gender and sexual orientation continues to remain of serious concern in Armenia; takes note of the recognition of domestic violence as a major problem with the adoption, on 8 December 2017, of the Law on the Prevention of Violence within the Family, Protection of Victims of Violence within the Family and Restoration of Peace (Cohesion) in the Family by the National Assembly, but calls for stronger legislation to effectively combat such violence and for the authorities to better protect and support survivors; commends Armenia on the signature, on 18 January 2018, of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, and encourages Armenia to swiftly ratify and thoroughly implement this Convention in order to effectively meet its commitments to international standards in this field;

17.  Calls on Armenia to address the issues of gender equality and anti-discrimination by taking swift but effective steps aimed at achieving equal opportunities for all, notably in terms of employment, equal pay and public office, ideally through a comprehensive standalone law on anti-discrimination, also protecting other vulnerable groups such as LGBTI people, in line with international standards and Armenia’s various human rights commitments, and to ensure effective and adequately resourced protection mechanisms; in this regard, expresses concern about the incompatibility of pending legislation with international standards on anti-discrimination;

18.  Urges the Armenian authorities to put a high priority on ending gender based sex-selection taking place through selective abortion, the incidence of which in Armenia and Azerbaijan remains among the most widespread in the world following China; encourages Armenia’s commitment to improving the lives of children – notably disabled and orphaned children – by consistently implementing the priorities set out in the National Strategy for the Protection of the Rights of the Child and in the relevant Action Plan for implementing the UNCRC, as well as guaranteeing inclusive education for all children by 2025 and eradicating child labour;

19.  Encourages further efforts to increase cooperation on preventing and combating criminal activities such as terrorism, organised crime, cybercrime and cross-border crime, and calls on Armenia to align itself more closely with the EU’s foreign and security policy;

20.  Calls on Armenia to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which it signed in 1999;

Trade and economic cooperation

21.  Welcomes the deepening of trade and economic relations between the EU and Armenia and the fact that CEPA in some instances goes beyond WTO commitments in terms of transparency and market access for EU products and operators, in areas such as trade in services, intellectual property rights and public procurement;

22.  Calls on Armenia to engage in a trustful trade relationship with the EU, in line with its commitments taken on with WTO accession; recalls that the terms and conditions of WTO membership, as well as the obligations under the WTO agreements and the provisions of those agreements, apply only to the territories of the Republic of Armenia as recognised by the UN;

23.  Expresses the hope that the Agreement will swiftly provide new and attractive economic opportunities for Armenian citizens living in or returning to Armenia, not least for young people in the country;

24.  Regrets, however, that the Agreement cannot include the removal of tariff barriers, as a result of Armenia’s membership of the Eurasian Economic Union; welcomes nevertheless, the high utilisation rate of the EU Generalised System of Preferences (GSP+) by Armenia, but notes with some concern that these GSP+ exports are heavily concentrated in only a few types of goods; notes that the Agreement respects Armenia's multi-vector foreign policy, but calls on the Commission to ensure that EU assistance is not directed within Armenia towards sectors affected by Russian sanctions against the EU, and urges the Commission to strictly oversee the adherence of EU Member States to Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014, in order to avoid Russia procuring dual-use goods and technology via Armenia;

25.  Welcomes the agreement reached on the protection of trademarks, including the transitional provisions in Article 237 on cognac and champagne, thereby protecting EU interests and also allowing Armenia to develop its trade in all the major sectors of its economy;

Energy and other areas of cooperation

26.  Welcomes the emphasis placed, notably in Article 42, on nuclear safety on the basis of the standards and practices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and of the European Union; regrets the decision of the Armenian authorities to extend the life of the Medzamor nuclear plant, and reiterates its grave concern over the persisting discrepancy between the safety standards of this nuclear plant and the major risks arising from its location in a seismic area; praises the negotiators for the inclusion in Article 42 of the CEPA of specific cooperation on ‘the closure and safe decommissioning of Medzamor nuclear power plant and the early adoption of a road map or action plan to that effect, taking into consideration the need for its replacement with new capacity to ensure the energy security of the Republic of Armenia and conditions for sustainable development’;

27.  Welcomes, furthermore, the specific provisions for cooperation on environmental issues in Armenia, given the urgent need for progress in this area as well as the opportunities for job creation and reduced dependency on energy imports that may result from the development of clean alternative sources of energy; in particular, calls on the Commission to assist and support the Armenian government both technically and financially in its ambitious plan to develop renewable energy;

28.  Calls on the Armenian authorities to enhance transparency and accountability in public finance management, as well as in public procurement and the privatisation process, and, furthermore, to strengthen supervision of the banking sector;

29.  Emphasises the importance of the provisions on dialogue and cooperation on employment policy, labour rights such as health and safety at work, gender equality and anti-discrimination, including for vulnerable and marginalised groups, in order to provide better jobs with improved working conditions, notably for young Armenians, and contribute to the fight against high unemployment and severe poverty;

Institutional provisions

30.  Welcomes the establishment of a Parliamentary Partnership Committee under Article 365 of the Agreement, and commits to swiftly establishing, together with the Parliament of Armenia, its rules of procedure with a view to an early launch of its activities;

31.  Reiterates its request to the Commission and the EEAS to transmit to Parliament a detailed written report on the implementation of international agreements every six months, in line with its recommendation of 15 November 2017 to the Council, the Commission and the EEAS on the Eastern Partnership, in the run-up to the November 2017 Summit, which reaffirmed Parliament’s resolve to increase its monitoring of the implementation of international agreements with the eastern partners and to increase its scrutiny of EU support provided in this respect;

32.  Calls on the EU and the Armenian authorities to step up their communication efforts regarding the aims and objectives of this new agreement, in order to further improve public awareness, both in Armenia and in the EU, of the expected opportunities and benefits that would arise from its conclusion; calls, furthermore, on both parties to maintain their efforts to counter any disinformation campaigns related to EU-Armenian relations;

o   o

33.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and Parliament of Armenia.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0493.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0440.
(3) OJ C 328, 6.9.2016, p. 2.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0283.

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