the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, visited Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to demonstrate the EU’s commitment to the South Caucasus and give new impetus ahead of the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit, which will take place in December 2021 in Brussels.
On 19 July, Michel attended the Batumi International Conference and met with the presidents of Georgia, Salome Zourabishvili, Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, and, the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu.
“We count on your commitment to advance reforms, not to please Brussels, but in the interest of your people and your societies. Together, we must always stand up for human rights and the rule of law, equal rights, non-discrimination, and freedom of expression, assembly and the press. They define who we are, and they are the best guarantee for prosperity,” said Michel.
On this occasion, he also discussed with the Georgian government and the leaders of parliamentary opposition parties the latest developments in the country and the implementation of the 19 April Agreement.
“Determined progress in consolidating the rule of law through political and judicial reforms is of particular importance. Judicial reform is a core part of the 19 April Agreement and a condition for the disbursement of EU macro-financial assistance to Georgia. The recent fast-track confirmation of Supreme Court judges did not fully reflect the results of consultations with international and domestic stakeholders. This was clearly a missed opportunity,” said Michel.
The President also stressed that the “rights of minorities are not a marginal issue – respect for diversity and human dignity are essential to our fundamental value”.
On 18 July, Charles Michel had detailed and intensive discussions in Baku with Ilham Aliev, the President of Azerbaijan, on the essence of the relationship between the European Union and Azerbaijan.
In Azerbaijan, Michel also visited a number of future-oriented innovation projects both in the satellite sector and concerning infrastructure, which are designed to increase the port of Baku’s level of ambition as regards development, including at regional level.
“The partnership between the EU and Azerbaijan is not primarily a partnership based on financial support provided through subsidies. It is a partnership based on the desire to make a joint commitment to innovation in the technological sector and to dialogue on economic matters. In keeping with this, the EU’s two priorities in terms of economic development – climate change and the digital revolution – can be at the heart of the projects…,” said Charles Michel.
On 17 July, President Michel visited the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, where three years earlier he had symbolically planted a tree in memory of the victims, and met the Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Michel congratulated Pashinyan on the outcome of the recent elections and confirmed the EU’s decision to mobilise an unprecedented financial package of €2.6 billion in support of Armenia’s priorities.
Michel also promised to support the vaccination process in the country based on the European Council decision to export before the end of the year around 50% of the vaccines produced each month (at least 100 million doses) and to maximise access to vaccination technology capabilities worldwide.
The European President also reiterated the EU’s support for Armenia in overcoming the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.