Bridging Europe – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:38:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.12 Concerns about the Russian movements before the Vilnius Summit /concerns-russian-movements-vilnius-summit/ Mon, 16 Sep 2013 16:59:10 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=723 AEGEE-Europe’s Reaction on the Latest Developments within the EU Eastern Partnership Program and Pressure Exercised by Russia

Within the last weeks the Head Office of AEGEE-Europe was following up the political developments in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP)  who previously officially expressed on the highest level their willingness sign the Association Agreement, and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union.

At the end of November 2013, the Eastern Partnership Summit will take place in Vilnius (LT). This summit will discuss the establishment of closer relations between the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries. So far, the EaP Program has worked towards providing better economic association and political integration of the Eastern Partnership members with the European Union. Also the EU Eastern Partnership Program has improved cooperation in the youth sector. Through the EaP the youth in these countries have achieved better social inclusion and have raised the quality of life of young people who have benefited from several European programs. These programs, mostly funded by the EU institutions, focused mostly in participation, mobility and education opportunities.

We witnessed in the past weeks with concern huge political pressure and speculations exercised on the EaP countries by a third party. At the brink of the upcoming Vilnius Summit, the Russian authorities are showing their reluctance to let the former Soviet allies make moves towards the European Union. Russia has set up its own equivalent of the Eastern Partnership, namely the “Customs Union”, and now Russian authorities exert pressure the Eastern Partnership countries to leave the European track and follow the Eurasian one.

AEGEE-Europe is deeply concerned with such political approach and we denounce the use of economic threats and sanctions exercised against Moldova (Russian authorities banned import of Moldovan wines, one of the country’s biggest source of income) and Ukraine (Russian authorities warned Ukraine for protective measures if Ukraine signs the Association Agreement), since they are in conflict with the right of each sovereign state to decide its political roadmap.

AEGEE-Europe emphasizes also the urgency in the EU-Armenia Association Process, which has been basically frozen as a result of the above mentioned pressure exercised by the Kremlin. On September 3rd 2013, after 3 and half years of successful and finalized negotiations on Association Agreement and DCFTA with the EU, the Armenian authorities expressed willingness to retreat from the European prospect and join in the Russian-led “Customs Union”. This decision was followed up by anti-governmental protests in Yerevan, which led to violence sometimes. Two members of protest groups (Haykak Arshamyan, from the Yerevan Press Club YPC, and Suren Saghatelyan, from Transparency International-Anticorruption Center Armenia-TI Armenia) were beaten on September 5 by a group of ‘unknown assailants’ as they returned from demonstration in support of the Armenia-EU integration process. Those intimidating attacks led to a statement of the EU Member States’ Heads of Mission in Armenia which AEGEE-Europe supports, and we call upon the Armenian authorities to take the required steps to protect the civil society.

Simultaneously, AEGEE-Europe wants to express full support to its only local representation in Armenia, AEGEE-Yerevan, and assure the members of the Organization, the Armenian students and the respective stakeholders that the activities and projects of AEGEE will not be frozen in Armenia. We again emphasize the urgency for the Armenian authorities to develop a multilateral structured dialogue with the representative of the civil society, with special attention to the youth sector, which will give overcome the existing deadlock.

We consider that the recent developments in Armenia and the pressure exercised on Moldova and Ukraine by the Russian authorities will have a very negative impact for the future of the Eastern Partnership, risking the advances in the recent 3-4 years. The countries of the Eastern Partnership can become more hesitant to sign documents with the EU. Unfortunately this may lead also to the stagnation in the field of youth cooperation with the consequent loss of opportunities for young people in the EaP countries.  Cooperation, exchanges and understanding will find more obstacles. The carefully build up relations between EU-EaP programs for formal and non-formal education will lose their visible impact. We give special importance to the position expressed in the official statements done by the European Commissioner Štefan Füle and the High Representative Baroness Catherine Ashton, as well as we appreciate the approach expressed at the special session of the European Parliament dedicated to analyze the external pressure on the EaP countries. We would like to express our full support to the principles of legal non-compliance of the Association Agreement and DCFTA with the legal framework of the “Customs Union”, as well as we call up the EaP authorities to avoid any misinterpretations of the mentioned legal documents.

AEGEE-Europe restates its faith in a Europe standing for liberty, democracy, and respect for human rights and the rule of law, and our will to cooperate with institutions that promote these concepts. In our belief, the surprising decisions of Armenia have brought additional doubts to the future of the EU Eastern Partnership program in general. Additionally we witness increasing political and economic pressure by the Russian authorities on the EaP states to abandon their pro European policies. We consider such pressure as an inappropriate tool for development of the relationships with the EaP countries. The EaP program was not established to harm bilateral relations of the EaP countries with the Russian Federation, but foremost to give the EU Neighboring Eastern partners chance to develop market economies as well as fully functioning democracies which would correspond to the EU standards.

Written by Armenak Minasyants, Policy Officer of AEGEE-Europe for the Bridging Europe area, and Alla Resheten and Mara Ioana, from the Eastern Partnership project of AEGEE-Europe.

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AEGEE supports strengthening of the EU-Armenia relationship /strengthening-eu-armenia-relationship/ Thu, 20 Dec 2012 08:53:08 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=344 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.

Photo: The Council of the European Union

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

Brussels, Belgium

 

 

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