Schengen visa

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EU Sets Date For Visa Facilitation Talks With Armenia

23.02.2012

The European Union announced on Thursday that it will begin on February 27 official negotiations with Armenia on easing its stringent visa requirements for Armenian citizens planning to visit EU countries.

The announcement made by the EU Delegation in Yerevan is the latest in a series of developments heralding the South Caucasus state’s deeper integration with the 27-nation union within the framework of the latter’s Eastern Partnership program.

It came two months after the EU’s supreme decision-making body, the Council, gave a relevant negotiating mandate to the executive European Commission in Brussels. The Commission asked for the green light to start visa facilitation talks with Yerevan in September, after more than a year of preliminary discussions with Armenian officials.

In a statement, the EU Delegation said the two sides will negotiate on two agreements regulating mutual travel and migration. One of them would enable Armenian nationals to receive EU visas with fewer documents and at a lower cost. Also, some categories of the population such as university students, academics and state officials would be eligible for long-term multiple-entry visas.

Yerevan is also due to sign a separate “readmission agreement” with Brussels that will commit it to helping EU immigration authorities expedite the repatriation of Armenian illegal immigrants.

“On the one hand, facilitating people-to-people contacts between Armenia and the EU will increase mutual understanding and improve our relations in all fields,” read the delegation statement. “On the other hand, the successful completion of negotiations would also highlight that both sides are committed to working together on tackling common challenges such as illegal migration.”

The statement added that a visa facilitation deal would also open the door to an eventual introduction of visa-free travel between the EU and Armenia.

Earlier this week, the EU announced the impending launch of formal talks on the creation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with Armenia, a key component of an “association agreement” negotiated by the two sides since July 2010. A DCFTA deal would lead to mutual lifting of import duties and bring Armenian laws and regulations into conformity with EU legislation.

Over the past year Armenian and EU officials have reported major progress towards the signing of the association agreement. At the most recent round of association talks held in Brussels last month they reportedly increased from 19 to 22 the number of negotiating “chapters” concluded during the process.

EU Set For Visa Facilitation Talks With Yerevan

20.12.2011

The European Union announced on Tuesday that it has formally agreed to open negotiations with Armenia on simplifying its stringent visa requirements for Armenians planning to visit EU countries.

A statement by the EU Delegation in Yerevan said the 27-nation bloc’s supreme decision-making body, the Council, gave a relevant negotiating mandate to the executive European Commission on Monday.

The Commission asked for the green light to start visa facilitation talks with the Armenian government three months ago, after more than a year of preliminary discussions with Armenian officials.

Armenia is entitled to signing a visa facilitation and “readmission” agreement with the EU as part of its involvement in the latter’s Eastern Partnership program for six former Soviet republics.

The agreement would enable Armenian nationals to receive EU visas with fewer documents and at a lower cost. Also, some categories of the population such as university students, academics and state officials would be eligible for long-term multiple-entry visas. For its part, the Armenian side would pledge to help EU immigration authorities expedite the repatriation of Armenian illegal immigrants.

“Once the Commission estimates that negotiations with Armenia are finalized, the Council will need to adopt decisions on signing and concluding the agreements by qualified majority and the European Parliament will need to give its consent,” read the EU Delegation statement.

It did not specify just when talks on the signing of such a deal will start and how long they could take.

The visa deal would be part of an Armenia-EU “association agreement” which is envisaged by the Eastern Partnership. Another, more important element of that agreement is the creation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) that will eliminate all barriers to trade between Armenia and the world’s biggest and richest single market.

Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian urged the European Commission to accelerate the official launch of DCFTA talks when he visited Brussels early this month. He told EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht that his government has fully complied with EU preconditions for those talks.

Yerevan Eyes Visa Deal With EU In 2012

09.11.2011 Tigran Avetisian

Armenia hopes to conclude before next July an agreement with the European Union that will ease visa requirements for its citizens travelling to EU countries, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said on Wednesday.

“We are going to sign an agreement with the European Union, the countries of the Schengen zone -- which I hope will be done in the first half of next year -- on the facilitation of the visa regime,” Nalbandian told a joint news conference with his visiting Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gahr Store.

Armenia is entitled to such a deal in line with its involvement in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program for six former Soviet republics. It would allow some categories of the country’s population such as university students, academics and state officials to receive Schengen visas with fewer documents and at a lower cost. They would also be eligible for long-term multiple-entry visas.

In return, Yerevan will have to pledge to help EU immigration authorities expedite the repatriation of Armenian illegal immigrants.

The bloc’s executive European Commission announced in September that it has asked EU member governments to give the green light for the start of official visa negotiations with Yerevan. The commission has yet to receive the relevant “mandate.”

In a related development, Armenia and ten EU member states, including France, Germany and Italy, launched late last month a non-binding “mobility partnership” that aims to step up their cooperation on migration issues. A corresponding declaration signed in Luxembourg by Nalbandian and top EU representatives said the EU will help the Armenian authorities deal with irregular migration more effectively.

“The launch of this Partnership with Armenia is a very important step towards bringing European and Armenian citizens closer,” Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU commissioner for home affairs, said in a statement.

Armenia Scraps Visas For EU Citizens

Emil Danielyan 04.10.2012

Citizens of the European Union member states travelling to Armenia will no longer need entry visas starting from next year, the Armenian government announced on Thursday in what it called a further boost to the country’s European integration.

The landmark measure, effective from January 10, 2013, means that EU nationals will be allowed to stay in Armenia visa-free for up to 90 days each year. It also applies to citizens of European nations such as Switzerland that are not EU members but are part of the bloc’s borderless Schengen area.

Armenia thus became the fourth non-Baltic former Soviet republic -- after Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova -- to unilaterally abolish visa requirements for Europeans. It currently has mutual visa-free regimes with less than two dozen countries, including Georgia, Russia and most of the other ex-Soviet states.

In an explanatory note, the government said that visa-free travel will stimulate a greater influx of European tourists and help to expand Armenia’s business ties with the EU. More importantly, it also put the measure in the context of ongoing negotiations on the signing of an “association agreement” between Armenia and the 27-nation bloc.

“The Republic of Armenia has adopted a policy of integration with the EU and is holding negotiations with the EU on the association agreement and the creation of a free and comprehensive free trade area,” explains the document.

One of the main elements of that accord is a facilitation of the EU’s strict visa requirements for Armenians planning to travel to Europe. It is expected that they will be able receive Schengen visas with fewer documents and at a lower cost. In return, Yerevan will have to sign a separate “readmission agreement” with Brussels that will commit it to helping EU immigration authorities expedite the repatriation of Armenian illegal immigrants.

Armenian and EU officials opened formal negotiations on visa facilitation in February. Diplomats in Yerevan have reported major progress in the talks.

In the written explanation endorsed by the government, the Armenian Foreign Ministry also argued that a unilateral scrapping of visas would encourage the EU to take a “differentiated approach” to Armenia and Azerbaijan on the issue.

Ministry officials are worried that the EU could delay the entry into force of a more liberal visa regime with Armenia until it negotiates a similar deal with Azerbaijan, presumably to avoid Azerbaijani accusations of pro-Armenian bias. Brussels’ visa facilitation talks with Yerevan are apparently at a more advanced stage than those with Baku.

The document also declares that the EU is ready, in principle, to eventually scrap visas for Armenians altogether. It says the two sides plan to start a “dialogue” on the matter one year after the softer Schengen visa rules take effect.

Armenia’s own visa procedures for much of the outside world have been quite simple since the late 1990s. EU and U.S. citizens can get visas at not only Armenian consulates abroad but also the country’s border crossings and Yerevan airport.