YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — A substantial part of the provisions of a landmark accord signed between the European Union and Armenia last year will come into effect beginning on April 1 following its parliamentary ratification in Yerevan expected by the end of this month, according to an Armenian official.

On November 24, Armenia and the EU signed the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) that envisages deepening of their political and economic relations. In particular, under the CEPA, the Armenian government is to carry out political reforms aimed at democratizing the country’s political system and boosting human rights protection. It must also gradually “approximate” Armenian economic laws and regulations to those of the EU.

“Immediately after ratification, provisions of the agreement will largely be put into temporary application. Such a provision is envisaged in the agreement,” Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Karen Nazarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Thursday.

He confirmed that the process of the CEPA’s parliamentary ratification in Armenia that will follow a conclusion of the country’s Constitutional Court will be completed by the end of March.

Before becoming fully applicable the 350-page agreement will need to be endorsed by all 28 EU member states as well as the European Parliament. So far only Estonia has ratified it.

Among other things the EU-Armenia agreement also envisages reforms in the field of public administration. A series of discussions that commenced in Yerevan on Thursday as part of the EU Eastern Partnership Program deal with public administration and good governance issues.

“Here are both EU representatives and Eastern Partnership member countries and with their Armenian counterparts they are to compare the process of reforms and to try to understand at what point each country is in terms of implementing these reforms,” Deputy Minister Nazarian explained.

Opening the Democracy, Good Governance and Sustainability Panel of the EU Eastern Partnership in Yerevan, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Switalski noted that Armenia is certainly at the stage of deep reform and that public administration is one of the major issues. “We as the European Union offer our assistance. The overall contribution of the European Union to reforms in Armenia in the fields of governance and public administration is bigger than 40 million Euros (more than $49 million). And last year we started a new chapter, a 20-million budget support program, which is geared to help Armenia to modernize its administration and develop new tools of good governance in the country,” the EU envoy said in his remarks.

Ambassador Switalski underscored that it is important that the Eastern Partnership member countries share their experience in public administration reform because they all face the challenges of transition from the former Soviet system to a modern governance model. “There are also other important issues, which I think are common to all countries, that will be discussed here, including how to build a politically neutral, meritocratic civil service, how to fight corruption, how to ensure better transparency and the participation of civil society and the population at large in the governance, how to make the State and all related structures more transparent and accountable to the public opinion,” he said.

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