Good afternoon. It is my pleasure, Prime Minister, to welcome you in Brussels once again.
I would first of all like to thank you for paying a visit soon after your impressive victory in last December's elections and shortly after your new government was sworn in.
Your government's focus on values and values-based reforms is deeply appreciated in Europe. I admire your resolve to bring about democratic reforms and economic development, which will benefit all Armenians.
The EU will continue to support Armenia's journey towards becoming a consolidated democracy and creating a better economic future for its citizens.
We are determined to make the promise of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement a reality, with real benefits for both Armenia and the EU. The vast bulk of the agreement is already provisionally applied and has a real impact. The EU is Armenia's biggest export partner with over 28% of Armenian exports.
The implementation of this agreement goes hand in hand with domestic reforms. The EU is ready to further support your reform process with enhanced technical and financial assistance. We agree with your strong emphasis on the fight against corruption and the rule of law reform.
Today, we also discussed the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As you know, the EU fully supports the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and their proposals. I am encouraged by the recent contacts between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and welcome the current decrease in tension. The EU continues to believe that the status quo is unsustainable; the conflict does not have a military solution and needs an early political settlement in accordance with international law. Preparing the respective populations for peace is an important step towards settlement, which we are ready to support.
I also thanked the Prime Minister for the valuable contribution Armenia makes to the Eastern Partnership. This partnership celebrates 10 years in May. We have agreed to meet again to take stock of the progress the Eastern Partnership has made over the past decade and to look ahead on the occasion of the anniversary celebrations in May here in Brussels. So, I look forward to seeing you back in only two months.
Finally, let me make one remark about today's editorial by President Macron. Not going into detail, I fully support his way of thinking, also when he says, and I quote, "Our first freedom is democratic freedom: the freedom to choose our leaders as foreign powers seek to influence our votes at every election." End of quote. There are external anti-European forces, which are seeking - openly or secretly - to influence the democratic choices of Europeans, as was the case with Brexit and a number of election campaigns across Europe. And it may again be the case with the European elections in May.
This is why I am calling on all those who care about the EU, to cooperate closely during and after the European elections. Do not allow political parties that are funded by external forces, hostile to Europe, to decide on key priorities for the EU, and the new leadership of European institutions. We cannot wait for the renaissance of Europe - the renaissance of Europe must start now. Thank you.