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EU Plans Economic Aid To Armenia

Armenia has suffered a serious economic downturn, including falling currency.
YEREVAN -- The European Union has announced plans to provide Armenia with economic assistance, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The European Commission's office in Yerevan said in a statement that the EU's executive branch will ask member countries to approve a loan of 65 million euros (about $97 million) and a grant of 35 million euros to help Armenia deal with its worst economic downturn since the early 1990s.

It said the assistance will support an adjustment program agreed to between Armenia and the International Monetary Fund.

The Armenian government projected a budget deficit of $475 million for 2010 and said it plans to cover at least half of the spending gap with external funds.

The EU statement said the proposed assistance will complement the financial resources provided by the EU through the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument.

The EU also announced in September that it will provide 33 million euros between 2011 and 2013 to support "institutional reforms" that would allow Armenia to negotiate association and free-trade agreements with the EU.

Armenia is eligible for such deals due to its inclusion in the Eastern Partnership program, which offers six former Soviet republics deeper integration with the EU in return for political and economic reforms.