On December 17th 2012 the Council of the European Union, represented by the Cypriot Foreign Minister Ms. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis and the EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ms. Cecilia Malmström, signed the Visa Facilitation Agreement with the Republic of Armenia, represented by the Armenian Foreign Minister Mr. Edward Nalbandian.
According to the provisions of the agreement, significant changes are coming to regulate bilateral visa matters between the agreeing parties. Particularly, starting from 2013 all the EU citizens will not have to pay for achievement of the Armenian entrance visa. For the Armenian citizens it will be easier and cheaper (30 EUR instead of 60 EUR) to achieve short-stay visas (period is exceeded up to 180 days). Additionally, according to the distributed official press release, visas will be free of charge for certain categories of applicants, including members of official delegations, children below the age of 12, pensioners, researchers and students. Holders of diplomatic passports are exempt from the visa obligation. The signed agreement will get in force right after the entry into the force of the EU-Armenia readmission agreement which will also be signed in the nearest future.
Taking the possibility, AEGEE-Europe would like officially welcome this important step in the development of the EU-Armenia bilateral relationship. We highly appreciate the special focus of the agreement on students and youth activists’ category and consider it fundamental ground for development of students’ mobility across Europe. We would like to state that this might become one of the most visible and the biggest benefits of the close cooperation, which has been developed between the EU and Armenia during the recent years within the frames of the EU Eastern Partnership Program.
AEGEE-Europe is also pleased with the strong commitment of the European Union and Armenian authorities to strengthen the existing relationship. The signed agreement and the recent political developments between the sides and bilateral visits of the high ranked politicians to Brussels and to Yerevan, and particularly the participation of the EU officials to the meetings with the representatives of the Armenian Civil Society, once again reaffirm strong belief on the European integration of Armenia, and the commitment of Armenian authorities to promote the shared European values in the South Caucasus.
AEGEE-Europe will also like to join to the official press points of the EU Commissioner Štefan Füle and call up the Armenian Government to continue the policy of internal reforms and strengthening the promotion of the common values in Armenia on which are based the bilateral relations between the EU and Armenia, and to enhance the involvement of the youth in the civil activism.
Submitted by Armenak Minasyants, Policy Officer on EU Integration of AEGEE-Europe