YEREVAN—Armenia and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding on energy sector cooperation following a meeting of the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force Thursday.
The MoU will provide necessary resources to keep Armenia’s Medzamor nuclear facility operating until plans for a new facility are in place.
Nuclear energy and Metsamor’s future in particular was on the agenda of the meeting co-chaired by Armenian Finance Minister Vache Gabrielian and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rubin. This resulted in the signing by Movsisian and U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern of a memorandum of understanding on U.S.-Armenian cooperation in the energy sector, reported RFE/RL.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Movsisian and Rubin, Heffern said although the U.S. would have liked to see Medzamor shut down by 2016 it is ready to continue providing “the necessary resources to keep the plant operating safely.” He also made clear that the memorandum contains “no specific commitments” on Yerevan’s plans to build the new nuclear power station at the site of the existing facility located over 30 kilometers west of Yerevan.
Daniel Rosenblum, a senior State Department official coordinating U.S. assistance to former Soviet republics, said two years ago that Washington hopes U.S. companies will also participate in the Armenian nuclear project. Incidentally, Rosenblum also attended Thursday’s USATF meeting.
“It was a very open, productive and creative conversation,” Rubin said of the meeting. He said the task force discussed ways of boosting U.S.-Armenian trade and facilitating U.S. investments in the Armenian economy.
A separate statement by the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan implied that this requires an improved business environment in Armenia.
“This year’s discussions focused on creating a better environment for promoting business and emphasized several sectors, including: tax and customs policy, fair and equitable competition, and respect for intellectual property rights,” said the statement.
The 21st meeting USATF took place on October 18 in Yerevan. The U.S. delegation was chaired by Eric S. Rubin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs and Daniel Rosenblum, Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, while the Armenian delegation was led by Vache Gabrielyan, the Republic of Armenia’s Minister of Finance. Officials from other U.S. government agencies participated in the meeting, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The U.S. and Armenian delegations agreed to cooperate on several initiatives to bolster bilateral trade and investment between the two countries. This year’s discussions focused on creating a better environment for promoting business and emphasized several sectors, including: tax and customs policy, fair and equitable competition, and respect for intellectual property rights. In addition, the governments of Armenia and the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding concerning Cooperation in the Energy Sector.
The USATF, which was first convened in 2000, provides a forum to further economic cooperation between our two countries, discuss trade and investment issues, advance financial and market reforms in Armenia, and identify opportunities for the U.S. and Armenia to work together to foster long-term economic development.
Earlier in the day Rubin met with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian who said the friendly partnership between Armenia and the United States includes various spheres of efficient cooperation.
Rubin stressed that the US would continue to develop comprehensive interaction with Armenia. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State added that cooperation continues to grow between the two countries and underscored the continuation of dialogue in political, economic and defense spheres.
Minister Nalbandian and Eric Rubin discussed the recent developments in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. The high-ranking American official highly commended Armenia’s constructive position over that issue, Armenia’s commitment to settle the issue exclusively through negotiations.