By Emilio Luciano Cricchio
Olivér Várhelyi, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, stated on a July 9 visit to Armenia that in addition to the €1.6 billion announced, the EU will mobilize another €1 billion through other sources.
The assistance to Armenia by the EU will be provided through various financial bodies under the Joint Economic and Investment Plan developed within the framework of the Eastern Partnership initiative, which is a program of the EU with the post-Soviet countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The most costly initiative involves further work on an unfinished North-South highway project that has an estimated cost of $712 million. This is a large-scale infrastructure project which will see a highway running from Armenia’s border with Iran to its border with Georgia.
The EU has also pledged about $593 million in direct support to 30,000 small and medium-sized enterprises in Armenia, with a special focus on rural and women-owned enterprises.
Under the program, the EU will provide Armenia $356 million for e-government technology startup programs and $42 million to help make Yerevan a “smart city” by promoting sustainable urban development practices.
Finally, Brussels allocated almost $95 million to Armenia’s southern Syunik region, which was adversely affected by the outcome of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. According to the EU assistance program, the priority issues in Syunik are housing, infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, education, healthcare, renewable energy, and support to local small and medium sized businesses.