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Published: 5 april 2012 16:52

Foreign Minister invites Armenia to take advantage of Lithuania's EU Presidency

E.Samoškaitės nuotr. / Yerevan

Lithuania's Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronius Ažubalis, currently visiting Armenia's capital Yerevan, invited Armenia to make use of Lithuania's upcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union to strengthen relations with the EU, step up Armenia's progress and open new ways for cooperation, Lithuania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

During Thursday's meetings with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Nalbandyan, Ažubalis emphasized Lithuania's readiness to share its reform experience with Armenia and help conclude talks with Brussels on EU-Armenian partnership agreements by the end of Lithuania's EU Presidency.

On 6 March, Armenia and the EU launched negotiations on a free trade agreement, and talks on a facilitated visa regime were started on 27 February. 24 out of 28 chapters have been closed during the talks on an Association Agreement.

"I have no doubt that travel facilitation and intensified direct contacts among people will give a good impulse for general reform processes in the country," Ažubalis said.

Lithuanian institutions have been selected for three EU Twinning projects in the fields of competition, consumer rights and customs to share their experience with Armenian institutions on the introduction of EU norms into their operations. The minister said that Lithuania was ready to also share its EU integration experience.

According to Ažubalis, intensifying Armenia's and Azerbaijan's relations with the EU could also open the way for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"A dialogue between societies is of special importance for reconciliation. The EU is ready to support measures aimed at strengthening mutual confidence," the Lithuanian foreign minister said.

Lithuania's Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Ažubalis said, would also be a great opportunity to lay out guidelines of the EU Eastern Partnership, that Armenia is taking part in, as an Eastern Partnership summit is planned in Vilnius in the second half of 2013. Preparations for the summit were one of the main issues Ažubalis discussed in Yerevan. The meeting also focused on economic cooperation. Its scope is grows but, Ažubalis believes, not all the potential is being used.

"Close political relations among states are a good platform for more intense economic relations," the minister said.

Current dynamics of bilateral trade show a growing interest of Lithuanian businesses in Armenia. In 2011, the bilateral trade turnover was 17.2 million litas (EUR 4.98 million), up by 15.7% from 2010. Lithuania's trade surplus amounted to 13.63 million litas.

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