Armenia Told to ‘Prepare’ for Visa-Free Travel to EU

(Azatutyun). A senior European Union diplomat urged Armenia’s government on Tuesday to start “internal preparations” for the eventual lifting of the EU’s stringent visa requirements for Armenian nationals.

“The experience of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine shows that each country needs to make many legislative and administrative changes in order to meet the necessary [EU] requirements,” said Piotr Switalski, the head of the EU Delegation in Armenia,

“So don’t lose time and do your homework. I hope that moment will come,” he added, appealing to the authorities in Yerevan.

The EU scrapped its visage regimes for the citizens of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine travelling to the Schengen Area, which covers most of Europe, after signing Association Agreements with the three former Soviet republics in 2014.

Armenia was on course to also sign such an agreement with the EU until President Serzh Sarkisian unexpectedly decided in 2013 to make the country part of the Russian-le Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Brussels and Yerevan are due to sign a less far-reaching accord during an EU summit that will be held in Brussels November 24.

“I believe that there will be some good news coming for Armenia from the Brussels summit,” Switalski said at a round-table discussion in Yerevan.

Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian urged the EU to launch a “dialogue” with Yerevan on visa liberalization when negotiations on the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) officially began in December 2015.

EU leaders expressed readiness to do that at a May 2015 summit in Riga. They said that such a process is contingent on the “full implementation” of an EU-Armenia agreement on “readmission” of illegal immigrants.

The readmission agreement was signed in April 2013 shortly after the EU eased some of its visa rules and procedures for Armenians. Armenia unilaterally abolished its visa regime for the citizens of the EU member states around that time.