The head of the European Union’s executive body congratulated President Serzh Sarkisian on Monday on winning a second term in an election which he said showed a further improvement in Armenian electoral practices.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also indicated that the EU will continue negotiations with Armenia on the signing of a far-reaching Association Agreement.
“The European Commission looks forward to continuing to develop and strengthen relations with your country, in the context of the negotiations of the EU-Armenia Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, and the related association agenda,” Barroso said in a letter made public by Sarkisian’s office.
“I welcome the improved conduct of the elections and further progress in efforts to bring the democratic process into line with international standards,” he wrote. “I encourage you to address the remaining issues, pointed out in particular by the OSCE/ODIHR observation mission, in an inclusive and transparent manner.”
The EU’s foreign and security policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and commissioner for enlargement, Stefan Fuele, similarly welcomed last week “further progress” made by the Armenian authorities towards holding elections meeting democratic standards. They at the same time urged Yerevan to address the irregularities reported by European observers.
EU officials have stressed in recent months that closer ties with the 27-nation bloc sought by the Sarkisian administration are contingent on the freedom and fairness of the presidential election. Visiting Yerevan in December, Barroso said it is “critically important” that the Armenian presidential ballot is “impeccable.” The largely positive EU reaction to the election administration suggests that Armenia will remain on track to sign the Association Agreement in November.
Barroso said on Monday that the EU also expects Sarkisian to “intensify” political and economic reforms sought by the bloc. “I assure you of my strong personal interest in all these undertakings and my commitment to deepening further our relations,” he said.