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"Stronger together": The EU and Armenia celebrate two-year anniversary of enhanced relations

29/11/2019 - 11:32
News stories

This week, the EU and Armenia celebrated the second anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA). The celebrations featured an inclusive fashion show, where people with disabilities together with Armenian models and celebrities showcased works of Armenian designers. It was labelled "Stronger Together", highlighting the mutual benefits brought by close cooperation between the EU and Armenia.

EU-Armenia CEPA

Among the contributors to the fashion show was Vahan Khachatryan, a famous Armenian fashion designer. Two years ago, he took the first steps to reinforcing the Armenian fashion industry. In a joint effort with fellow designers, the NGO Business Club for Impact, and with financial support from the EU project that co-fund small and medium enterprises (SMEDA), he was able to create a Fashion and Design Chamber.

Today the Chamber brings together individual designers and brands, start-ups and entrepreneurs from the fashion industry and related sectors all across Armenia and represents them in relations with suppliers, the government as well as other partners in Armenia and abroad. The Fashion Chamber actively organises fashion forums, training, consultations and workshops to help designers make their mark in this industry.

This week's "Stronger Together" fashion show showcased designs by Vahan Khachatryan and his colleagues Aram Nikolyan, Petoor, Zgest, Ruzane, Soncess, Loom.

The EU has worked closely with the Coalition for Inclusive Legal Reform, the biggest coalition advocating for the rights of people with disabilities in Armenia, on promoting the political rights of people with disabilities and their access to polling stations during the December 2018 elections.

In 2019, the EU helped to get more people with disabilities involved in outdoor activities, and more projects are planned for the future. From 2017-2019, the EU supported Caritas Austria and Caritas Armenia in establishing the first inclusive bakery and coffee-shop in Armenia, which is already very popular among locals and tourists in Gyumri.

During the celebrations, senior officials from the European Union and the Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister, Avet Adonts, highlighted the close partnership between the EU and Armenia in the Eastern Partnership initiative and the work to increase cooperation over the last years. A milestone in the relationship was the signing of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Association Agreement on 24 November 2017. The Agreement, which provides a framework for Armenia and the EU to work together for the benefit of the citizens of Armenia in areas such as strengthening human rights and democracy, creating more jobs and business opportunities, opening new possibilities for education and research, has been in provisional application since 1 June 2018.

Once ratified by all EU Member States and implemented by the Armenian side, the Partnership Agreement will open up more opportunities for citizens, among which the creation of new jobs, good governance, legal regulations, improved connectivity, energy efficiency, and better education. Sixteen Member States of the European Union have notified their ratification so far, and others are in the process of doing so.

The EU is already providing significant financial support to Armenia under the Agreement’s provisional application. In 2019, for example, the EU has allocated €65 million to back the implementation of the Armenian government's ambitious reform agenda, including judicial reform . On 16 December, a first assessment of the effectiveness of the implementation of CEPA will be given.