I am happy to be in Yerevan and once again meet the President of the Republic of Armenia. My visit here is a follow-up to our meeting in Brussels in March and the Eastern Partnership Summit in May in Riga.
Firstly, I would like to thank you for the possibility of visiting the Genocide Memorial. This was my second visit, and was as moved as during my first visit.
Today, we have had a good discussion on a wide range of issues; on EU-Armenia relations, the Eastern Partnership and wider regional issues.
We discussed the situation regarding Nagorno-Karabakh. Recent negative trends are a cause for concern. The peaceful resolution of this conflict remains a priority for the European Union. The European Union supports the negotiations aimed at settling the conflict led by the OSCE Minsk Group.
We support further dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan, including at the highest level - at your level Mr. President. It is critical to respect the ceasefire strictly, to exercise restraint on actions and statements, and to create an atmosphere conducive to progress in the conflict settlement.
Armenia has chosen not to make use of the European Union's offer of an Association Agreement including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. This is a choice that the European Union fully respects.
We still stand ready to deepen our relations by working together to open markets and by advancing on democratic reforms, economic growth, regional integration, a better business-investment climate, and sustainable development. In short a broad reform agenda.
We have just successfully completed the first stage of discussions on a new, comprehensive bilateral agreement. In this agreement we have identified areas for future cooperation. The EU Member States are already discussing the mandate for these negotiations.
One important area in our cooperation is to make it easier to travel between Armenia and the European Union. I welcome the good progress made by Armenia on the Mobility Partnership. The effective implementation of the Readmission and Visa Facilitation Agreements that entered into force in January 2014 is a crucial condition to start talks for a visa liberalisation dialogue. A visa-free regime is the final goal. I am hopeful that the next step can be taken in the coming months, if this pace of work continues.
Armenia can count on the European Union's continued support to advance on 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.
This year is decisive for our relations. Thank you.