The “Public Oversight over Parliamentary Elections 2017″ project will help to conduct a comprehensive domestic observation mission during the 2017 parliamentary elections in Armenia and will involve more than 3,000 election observers. The project is funded by the European Union and co-funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). It is being implemented by the Europe in Law Association and its partner Transparency International Anti-Corruption Centre – Armenia (TIAC). Those organisations together with the Journalists՚ Club Asbarez form the Citizen Observer Initiative.
On 24 February 2017, the Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr A. Świtalski, and members of the Citizen Observer Initiative held a press conference to present the EU-funded project activities and the importance of domestic observation of the electoral process.
During the press conference, the Ambassador Świtalski spoke about the EU’s support to the electoral process in Armenia: ‘Let me start with the figures to present the EU’s full engagement. The EU has allocated more than €7 million to support the implementation of different components of the political agreement between the ruling coalition and three opposition parties on the new Electoral Code. We have allocated almost €4 million to support the implementation of the new voter authentication technology; €2 million for the installation of video cameras and a live streaming of the election process from 1,500 polling stations (out of total 2,000); almost €400,000 to support programmes through the Council of Europe Office in Armenia and €370,000 through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights to support civil society observation through the Europe in Law Association and TIAC. These figures reflect only a part of what has been done. The EU has invested a lot of its political efforts to encourage the political actors to reach a compromise agreement. We are optimistic and believe that Armenia will have better elections than in the past, because we see increased political will among different stakeholders. There are several important points for the EU which need to be addressed. It is necessary to prevent the abuse of administrative resources, electoral corruption and bribery, vote-buying, and to provide equal opportunities for political parties, including access to media. It is also very important for the EU to remove obstacles to the work of domestic (in particular restrictive measures included in the Electoral Code) and international observers’.
Lusine Hakobyan, the Chairperson of the Europe in Law Association, presented the work done so far: ‘The Citizen Observer Initiative can observe about 75% of polling stations this year, as nearly 3,000 citizens have already registered. If there are other active citizens who wish to monitor the electoral process and make a change, you can still register to become observers. Then we will be able to observe all polling stations in Armenia’.
The registration and training process for election observers have already started through the Initiative’s web page (www.citizenobserver.am). Nearly 3,000 people have already been registered, of which 1,800 have already been trained by the Citizen Observer Initiative’s lawyers.
Other interested citizens can still join the initiative and monitor parliamentary elections to promote free, fair and transparent elections for the sake of a democratic Armenia. To become an observer, citizens need to fill in this registration form: http://citizenobserver.am/observers/registration. Those who pass two stages can become observers.
In addition to the observation mission, the initiative gives an opportunity to reveal cases of voting instead of you. If you or your relatives are not going to participate in the parliamentary elections for some reason, you can also register on theweb page beforehand (https://citizenobserver.am/en/elections/register) to compare the voters՚ lists after the elections and to reveal cases of electoral fraud.