May 11, 2010 - 20:38 AMT 15:38 GMT

Today, Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union
for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of
the Commission, issued a statement on the adoption of negotiating
directives for Association Agreements between the EU and Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Georgia.

"I welcome the adoption by the General Affairs Council on 10 May
of the negotiating directives for the future Association Agreements
between the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The adoption of
these negotiating directives is a clear sign of our strong commitment
to further deepen the relationship between the EU and the countries
of the South Caucasus, on the basis of shared values and principles,
including democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The
Eastern Partnership, launched at the Prague Summit on 7 May 2009,
provides an ambitious framework for taking the relationship with the
countries of the South Caucasus to a new level. In this context,
Association Agreements are an important instrument to upgrade our
relations beyond existing commitments with a view of political
association and gradual economic integration with the EU.

The negotiation process will be guided by the principles of
inclusiveness and differentiation, as well as joint ownership.

Successful implementation of the Eastern Partnership with the active
engagement of the partner countries both in its multilateral and
bilateral track will strengthen relations on the basis of shared
values and will help advancing political and economic reforms,
consolidate governance and foster regional stability, prosperity and
confidence building. I look forward to the launch of negotiations on
these ambitious and comprehensive agreements with Armenia, Azerbaijan
and Georgia," Catherine Ashton stated, press service of Delegation
of the European Union to Armenia reported.