YEREVAN -- The European Union (EU) will provide Armenia with 33 million euros ($48 million) to help the country qualify for association and free-trade agreements with the EU as a part of its Eastern Parnership program, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
The program -- which was inaugurated in May -- gives six former Soviet republics much closer integration with the 27-nation bloc in return for political and economic reforms.
Eastern Partnership Commission head John Kjaer told participants at a two-day forum in Yerevan on September 15 that Armenia will receive the funding in 2011-2013 for "comprehensive institution building" focused on "core" institutions jointly selected by the EU and Armenia.
Armenian Economics Minister Nerses Yeritsian said the government is hoping free-trade talks with the EU could be completed within three years.
He said "experts tell us that the process could take five years or longer. But we'll see, it all depends on the formulation of our objectives."
In February, Armenia and the EU held negotiations over a free-trade deal.