ENP report positive for Armenia, despite concerns over March 2008 developments

The progress report on implementation of the European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan by Armenia has been released. The document has a generally positive assessement of Armenia’s performance. The memo released on this occasion lists the following major points:

In general, Armenia has demonstrated a strong commitment towards the implementation of the ENP Action Plan, despite some initial delays caused by Parliamentary elections in May 2007 and internal coordination issues.

Good progress was achieved in particular in the areas of judiciary reform , the administration of elections and the Ombudsman institution. Of key importance for 2008 will be proper implementation of recently adopted legislation.

International observers have concluded that the conduct of the February 2008 Presidential elections was mostly in line with international standards. There are however concerns with regard to the declaration of the state of emergency in the aftermath of the elections and related to clashes between police and opposition protesters. The situation has shown that – despite progress achieved in 2007 regarding respect for human rights and rule of law – there is a necessity for further improvement.

In order to improve integrated border management at the national and regional level, a project on regional border management in South Caucasus (2008-2009) was launched in October 2007. Participating countries agreed to implement measures on a bilateral basis (,Armenia-Georgia, Azerbaijan-Georgia).

Armenia has managed well on the macro-economic side with a strong growth in 2007 at a rate of 13.7% (double-digit for the sixth consecutive year).

The bilateral trade with the EU grew by 17.4% compared to 2006 and amounted to nearly €1 billion. The EU is Armenia’s main trading partner (nearly 40% share in Armenia’s overall external trade).

The business climate has been further improved, although at slower pace than in earlier years. More efforts are needed to improve the customs administration.

Further progress was made in 2007 in reducing poverty – the proportion of the population living under the poverty line has continued to decline steadily to 29% in 2007 and the share of extreme poverty is now down to 6.5% of the population.

The recent upgrading of the European Commission delegation in Yerevan is a tangible sign of the Commission’s commitment to the future development of the country.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant