EuFoA forecasts greater EU assistance for Armenia in case of fair elections

Dr Michael Kambeck:

EuFoA forecasts greater EU assistance for Armenia in case of fair elections

PanARMENIAN.Net - European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA) NGO has conducted a poll titled “Last Assessment of Pre-Electoral Armenia” prior to National Assembly elections 2012. PanARMENIAN.Net held an interview with EuFoA’s Secretary General Dr Michael Kambeck who spoke about the results of the latest survey, Armenia – EU further cooperation and other issues.

What was the goal of the latest poll? What were the motives?
EuFoA conducted the poll as a neutral, non-partisan NGO. It aimed to foster a more meaningful political debate, to raise public awareness on the forthcoming elections, political parties and their leaders, as well as to draw a parallel between the outcomes of this poll and the ones EuFoA conducted in October 2010 and March 2012. We also try to boost the level of public trust in a realistic picture of Armenia’s political life.

What are the key differences related to domestic political situation between the results of the polls conducted in 2010 and 2012?
As the political situation in the country was more neutral in 2010, the poll mainly focused on international policy and foreign relations, with only a small part of it covering election questions.

Public information sources can serve an example for comparing the results. The internet usage totalled 15% back in 2010; whereas today it has doubled, reaching 30 %. The rest of mass media including television have retained their positions. This example proves the quality of the poll. Public awareness on parties was lower in 2010 due to a more passive political situation in the country. The more politics is discussed, the higher the awareness level about political parties is. That is why strong progress has been recorded in awareness levels of all parties and politicians since the poll in 2010, and even further since the campaign started.

What are the main development prospects of Armenia-EU ties?
The past four years were the most dynamic in Armenia-EU relations, with the Association Agreement talks being a vivid proof.

As for future developments, they mainly depend on the upcoming parliamentary elections. There will be increase in EU funding for Armenia in case the elections meet the European standards. With this funding, the EU wants to help Armenia to reach European standards in all aspects of the economy, public administration, etc.

In case of fair elections, Armenia's European integration process is likely to take 5-10 years, which will bring the country in line with the standards Croatia, Norway or Island have today. There will be a new visa regime and a so-called Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between Armenia and the EU. The Association Agreement currently being negotiated for all this envisages tangible progress in the fields of law, trade, visa facilitation, etc. Armenia’s absence of the voting right in the EU will be the key difference compared to a full EU member.

It is noteworthy that the EU has offered this to all its Eastern neighbours, from the South Caucasus to Russia, but also Belarus and Ukraine. The speed and depth of the integration is determined by each country itself.

What are the organizations EuFoA cooperates with in Armenia, and which have been the cooperation products so far?
In general, EuFoA is open to cooperation with every organization that is engaged in EU-related projects. I can name European Movement in Armenia NGO among the organizations we cooperated with, also the German political Foundations and other NGOs. With our head office located in Brussels, EuFoA pursues its main activities there. We promote Armenia when we are in Europe and Europe when we are in Armenia. Often we must also counter Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian propaganda.

Currently EuFoA focuses on Armenia’s domestic policy due to the election process in the country. However, generally we center on foreign policy.

Parandzem Vardanyan / PanARMENIAN News