YEREVAN -- The French ambassador in Yerevan says that Armenia's ties with the European Union are developing "rapidly" thanks to its active involvement in the bloc's Eastern Partnership program, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
Henri Reynaud pointed to what Armenian and EU officials say is major progress in their negotiations on an "association agreement" which is envisaged by the Eastern Partnership program that covers Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus.
"I don't now if Armenia is the country that has closed the largest number of [negotiation] chapters or just one of such countries because things are changing very, very rapidly," Reynaud told journalists. "In any case, it is part of the club of countries that are advancing the most rapidly."
The EU-Armenian talks began in July 2010. It is unclear when they will be concluded.
The Armenian government and the EU's executive body, the European Commission, have yet to open official negotiations on two key components of the association agreement: the creation of a "deep and comprehensive" free-trade area and simplification of EU visa procedures for Armenians.
Reynaud reaffirmed the French government's support for Armenia's European integration, which the administration of President Serzh Sarkisian has declared a foreign-policy priority.
The French diplomat also praised Armenia's record of political and economic reforms carried out since independence. He said in particular that the country has succeeded in adopting a "democratic political culture."
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