Tag Archives: Ambassador Piotr Świtalski

2On 20 February, the representatives of the European Union, the United Nations, the Embassies of the U.S., the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Sweden, the Council of Europe in Armenia honored individuals working to promote human rights, freedom of expression, diversity, democracy, transparency, legal reform and equal rights in Armenia at the Universal Rights Awards 2018 Ceremony. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was a guest of honour at the ceremony.

The Universal Rights Award Ceremony has been held since 2012. The organisers have introduced 9 categories for nominations for 2018, and here were the winners:
• “Freedom Defender” – Maria Karapetyan
• “Community Development” – Tigranuhi Hakobyan
• “Access to Justice” – Haykuhi Harutyunyan
• “Promoting Inclusion” – Uso Haji Nadoyan
• “Media Excellence” – Tatul Hakobyan
• “Government Reformer” – Arsen Torosyan
• “Partnership Advocate” – Chai Khana Media Platform
• “Woman of Courage” – Vardine Grigoryan
• “Youth Leader” – Davit Petrosyan
At the same event, the Embassy of the Republic of France and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany bestowed their annual Franco-German Award for Equal Opportunities on an Armenian NGO.

10The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, in his address to the nominees and guests present at the ceremony said: “In 2018, the democratic world applauded the peaceful political change that took place in Armenia. Underpinned by the fundamental values of freedom, equality, and respect for human rights, we trust that this course is irreversible. The EU is ready to continue and enhance its support to Armenia on this important path towards a modern, open, and resilient society. I believe we have a paradigm shift – we now talk differently in Armenia, and with Armenians, about human rights. That is a big change, a result of what happened last year. We are still talking and there’s still a lot to talk about although in a different way. For the EU there are three core issues: gender equality, empowerment of women, and social rights”.

7Prime Minister Pashinyan made a speech welcoming the ceremony: “What is our human rights protection formula? Our formula consists in providing equal opportunities for all citizens and ensuring equal access to opportunities. We will consistently proceed along this path because of our political viewpoint and vision. Our ideology is that the first thing to do in the field of human rights is to ensure that all citizens in the Republic of Armenia are able to fulfil their social, scientific, economic and political objectives, and are capable of doing so objectively. This does not mean that those who cannot be objective should be left out of the scope and orbit of our policy. On the contrary, it is also important for us to encourage and help subjective people to build the necessary capacity for objectivity, to have easy access to education, and to enjoy equal opportunities with others. This is a strategic issue for us, for our country. We must ensure that only the best qualified people are elevated to political, economic and educational positions in Armenia, because only fair and equal opportunities may lead to favourable conditions for Armenian citizens”.

On 30 January the YES Armenia programme officially concluded results. Launched in December 2017, the programme offered 21 young professionals a unique opportunity and challenge to work in different ministries and government agencies to deliver tangible results. Almost half of the selected experts were from the Armenian Diaspora, who brought their skills and expertise.

ARS_5604For 12 months they developed and implemented 21 priority projects central to government reforms and EU priorities. The projects that the young experts developed and implemented in the past year included the revision of school governance models, the introduction of agricultural insurance, pilots of distance learning and e-resources for public schools, improvement of data collection around tourism, the enhancement of public private partnerships (PPP), and more. As part of the programme, young professionals participated in decision-making processes, gained first-hand experience of the inner workings of public institutions, and, made inputs to Armenia’s development. YES Armenia was funded by the European Union and implemented by the ‘Development and Strategic Studies’ project, in partnership with the Centre for Strategic Initiatives (CSI).

2The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, thanked all partners for the implementation of such an important programme: “For the EU this was an experiment. We are very proud to have been associated to this initiative and to be able to engage Armenia’s young generation more closely inside Armenia’s public institutions. Young people are a source of optimism, energy, and fresh ideas; Armenia needs this type of people. YES Armenia proved that young professionals can have a lasting impact by eliminating old vestiges of bureaucratic and other systems of governance that impede the rapid development of Armenia. This programme also created another bridge with the Diaspora and realising its untapped intellectual potential for the betterment of the country. Armenia is now on the threshold of launching big reforms and we believe that these reforms will be successful – if and when the young generation feels part of it”.

8Tigran Avinyan, Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia, mentioned that the programme was one of the vivid examples of the effective and expanding cooperation between Armenia and the European Union, and thanked the EU for the continuous support: “YES Armenia brought new energy into the public administration system. On the one hand, young experts from Armenia and diaspora gained the opportunity to get an insider’s view on how government institutions work and get practical experience; on the other hand, they invested their skills, turned their innovative ideas into actions, and suggested solutions to existing problems. The institutional experience accumulated during the implementation of YES Armenia can play an important role in increasing the effectiveness of public and civil service activities”.

On 28 November the civil society-government forum “The Possibilities of Introducing Mechanisms of Transitional Justice in the Republic of Armenia in the Light of International Experience” was held. The forum was organised by the Armenian Lawyers’ Association in cooperation with the Armenian government as part of the EU-funded “Commitment to Constructive Dialogue” project. The essence of transitional justice, mechanisms of application, and the necessity of its introduction in Armenia were presented alongside best international practice. The results of the study will be summarised after the conference, adding proposals that will greatly assist the government and political actors to make final decisions on how to implement transitional justice. Ambassadors of foreign states, high-ranking officials and representatives of Armenian state agencies, international organisations, civil society organisations, lawyers, and experts participated in the event.

IMG_9974The Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, welcomed participants: “Introducing elements of restorative justice is a sovereign decision of the residents of Armenia. However, if a request is made to the EU, we are ready to support the government in this process. The EU, as the largest contributor to the transitional justice (TJ) process, especially in its neighbourhood, can offer best experience and advice on how to connect this process with overall justice reforms. That said, we will never try to give even a hint of advice on how TJ should be conducted it in Armenia. The comprehensive and transparent nature of the process is essential, otherwise any TJ efforts will end up with selective justice. I believe that Armenia should make all efforts to avoid this. Irrespective of this decision, the EU will continue its support to the justice sector reform in Armenia”.

IMG_9928 copyActing First Deputy Prime Minister Ararat Mirzoyan stressed TJ’s importance: “Transitional justice is interesting not only to professionals, but also to wider society. Massive violations of human rights have taken place in Armenia over many years, and today there is a possibility to disclose the truth. There must be criminal cases, the guilt, the crime and the names of the violators should be recorded, so that such these things are not repeated again. They will be forgiven on behalf of society through reconciliation”.

The “Commitment to Constructive Dialogue” project is being implemented with the financial support of the European Union by a consortium of civil society organisations (CSOs). The project aims to enhance the influence of CSOs and CSO coalitions/networks on public policies in Armenia.

ARS_1023The European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) sums up its achievements and results. Three closing events have been held: the first one was held on 8 November in Gyumri, Shirak marz, the second one on 13 November in Yerevan and the third one on 20 November in Bambakashat and Nalbandyan communities, Armavir marz. The European Union has supported Armenian farmers for many years and has become the biggest donor to agricultural sector in Armenia. ENPARD programme that launched in 2015 has contributed to the economic growth of Armenia’s rural communities and the creation of new and sustainable jobs in Shirak, Lori, Gegharkunik, Aragatsotn, Kotayk, and Vayots Dzor marzes.

ARS_0005_Throughout the events the results of ENPARD “Technical Assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Armenia” and “Producer Group and Value Chain Development” projects were presented. The events provided a unique platform to present and discuss the results of both projects, aimed at strengthening producer groups, effectively engaging them in value addition activities, strengthening value chains that provide improved access to affordable, better quality food, contributing to the development of rural areas, improving access to local and international markets, and ensuring the introduction of environmentally-friendly farming and food processing practices. It also aimed at promoting the sustainable growth of agriculture by supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development Strategy of the Republic of Armenia. The project beneficiaries were given a unique opportunity to present their success stories, share their experience and impact on community socio-economic development. The EU contribution to the project was €25,000,000. The Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Armenia, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and farmers’ groups were the implementing organisations.

ARS_1003The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, thanked all the participants for effective cooperation: “This is a sad event as we are closing a beautiful project. For us it is an occasion to extend our warmest thanks to all people who made this project a success, especially the people of Armenia, who joined this journey and who profited. Indeed, the aim of ENPARD was to bring tangible results to ordinary people. We are very proud that we are the biggest donor for Armenian agriculture. There are many channels through which we contribute to the development of this field. This is not only about money, this is a symbolic expression of our political stance – we believe that agriculture is important for Armenia, that agriculture can be an engine for economic growth, and that investment in agriculture in Armenia can bring a lot of benefits to ordinary people, both producers and consumers”.

On 22 October, the “Frontiers in Chemistry” (ArmChemFront2018) international conference was launched in Armenia. With the support of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, Groningen University in partnership with Yerevan State University, organised this large-scale scientific conference on a variety of topics in the field of chemistry, selecting world-renowned speakers, including 2 Nobel Prize winners and EU’s “Horizon2020” participants. During the 5-day conference, speakers shared news on recent scientific developments. More than hundred scientists from all over the world took part in the conference.

ARS_9617The main goal of the symposium was to provide Armenian scientists, especially the younger generation, with an opportunity to learn about best practice, using innovative and quality techniques. The core message of the conference was to reenergise chemical research in Armenia, tailored to the specific requirements and conditions of Armenia and in line with global scientific achievements. At the end of the conference, “The Best Talent” scholarship award took place. An international panel of scientists selected the brightest Armenian talent. The latter got an opportunity to do a 3-month internship at one of the top chemistry research groups in the world.

ARS_9639The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, welcomed the participants of the conference: “We have a big delegation encompassing more than 20 countries. For the EU, this is an occasion to launch our campaign –#LearningIsCool. We know Armenians have a high IQ, this is a nation of talented people. However, high IQ is only 50-60 percent of the recipe for success. What you need is good education. Education is important for Armenia as a driver of change. We, the EU, are ready to assist our Armenian partners. International links are also key – this is why this conference is so important. Armenia is an associate member of “Horizon2020” – a great platform for supporting innovation and research in Europe and our partner countries. We are looking forward to successful applications and good projects from Armenia”.

ARS_9653Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, the Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia noted that chemistry was important for Armenia: “Our country was a centre of chemical industry for many years with many specialisations. As a result of the collapse of economic relations after independence, the chemistry sector in Armenia suffered greatly. We need to give it a new impetus. The Armenian Government has ambitious plans for education and science sector. In recent months we have tried to develop different projects, and in some places we have already started to implement them. Holding such important conferences, especially in the chemistry sphere, is vitally important for Armenia. It is impossible to develop any sphere, especially the chemistry sphere, without international cooperation and without taking into account the international achievements and experience of contemporary science”.

On 15 September, the annual “Rural life and traditions” festival was held in Yerevan for the fifth time. The importance of the harvest festival, the achievements of recent years, and anticipated events were presented. The European Union played a key role in the establishment of the festival. The EU-funded European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) and the Organic Agriculture Support Initiative (OASI) are the festival’s key sponsors. More than 200 farmers’ groups and individual farmers, cooperatives, women’s groups, and local entrepreneurs from Armenia and other countries, including GeorgiaUSAIranLebanonRomania, and Italy, participated in the festival. The producers presented their products, grown and processed in rural areas, to the citizens of the capital, Yerevan.

DSC_9293The festival is organised for residents of the capital to understand and experience Armenia’s regional agricultural achievements. This includes the results of projects implemented by international organisations, as well as the successes of farmers’ and women’s cooperatives. It is a good opportunity to purchase products that cannot yet be found in shopping centres in Yerevan. The festival serves as a unique platform for agricultural stakeholders and potential donors to meet, find new markets, exchange experience, and engage in new collaboration.

DSC_8953The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, paid his respects to hard-working Armenian farmers: “We are very proud that the idea for this festival came from the EU Delegation to Armenia. It is growing in size and more and more farmers are participating. The EU is committed to supporting agricultural sector. Our commitment is €25 million through the ENPARD programme. We also support the OASI project, implemented by our Austrian partners. We believe that organic agriculture has a bright future in Armenia, and we will be continuing down this path”.

DSC_8944Deputy Minister of Agriculture Artak Kamalyan congratulated all festival participants: “This festival is being held for the fifth time, which proves that it is already well established. I welcome all participants, both local and international. I am proud that more than 200 agricultural producers are presenting their products today, which shows the wide choice our citizens can enjoy. I assure you that, today, organic agriculture in Armenia is one of the priorities of the Ministry of Agriculture”.

On 16 July, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, gave a press conference, during which the EU-Armenia relations were discussed.

Opinion Survey 2018: Armenia

ARS_3701_Ambassador Świtalski thanked Armenians for their recognition of the work the European Union does in the country, presenting the results of the “Opinion Survey 2018: Armenia”: ‘The EU conducts an annual survey of perceptions of the EU in Eastern Neighbourhood countries. The results concerning Armenia are very satisfactory – here are just a few figures. According to 1,000 face-to-face interviews in March 2018: 70% of people in Armenia trust the EU; 80% feel that relations with the EU are good; 69% of Armenians appreciate the financial support; 66% of Armenians believe that this support is effective; 53% believe that the EU brings tangible results to the everyday life of Armenian citizens; 55% believe that the EU is committed to fighting corruption in Armenia… There were, of course, points in the survey which point out our weaknesses as well. We will take them very seriously, analysing them and factoring them into our future planning. However, the most important thing is the dynamics – we will remain committed to engagement in Armenia as long the citizens want it – their voice is decisive’.

EU-Armenia relations

ARS_3706_The EU Ambassador also spoke about cooperation with the new Government of Armenia: ‘A few days ago, Armenia’s Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, met top EU officials in Brussels. The message sent by the EU was very clear – the EU welcomes the changes that have occurred in Armenia and is ready to support the Government’s dedication to reform. We will be constructive in our support and help Armenia to transform this dedication into concrete action. We are very open to hearing the expectations of the Government. I have been meeting Government representatives – at every meeting we ask a very simple question: “How can we help? What do you expect from us?” We would like to hear concrete ideas from our Armenian partners. When we have a comprehensive perspective we will discuss how we can help in real terms. Our preliminary mission is to help ordinary citizens. As of now, the EU is the biggest donor to Armenia. We are a very complex organisation and operate through specific frameworks. The legal and political basis of our relations with Armenia is the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and Partnership Priorities document. We have a long-term vision and our financial instruments, including for Armenia, are reviewed every 7 years through the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The current one expires in 2020, and a serious discussion has started in Brussels on the new MFF. Now we have the opportunity to look at the structural elements of the MFF and discuss figures. The 7-year period is divided into two sub-periods which we call “Single Support Frameworks”. Last April the Single Support Framework 2017-2020 for Armenia was adopted – this is where we stand. This framework is transparent and has provided a 25% increase in support for Armenia. The Single Support Framework itself is split into annual Action Plans. With the previous Government we were in advanced discussions on the 2018 and 2019 plans. The new Government now has total control of this process. As the previous talks were not finalised we are awaiting proposals for the plans, particularly 2018. We hope they will correspond with the reform agenda and the expectations of Armenian citizens’.

ARS_7577On 2 June the last Europe Day celebrations took place in Yerevan after being held in 6 Armenian cities. This year, Europe Day celebrations were held under the motto “Europe is here”. For the first time in the history of Europe Day celebrations in Armenia, the EU Delegation held a musical contest in which participants had to design an anthem for this motto. The initiative brought together very talented young people who performed the anthem in the marzes and also in Yerevan. In 2018 Europe Day celebrations started in Ijevan on 12 May and continued into Hrazdan on 13 May, Vanadzor on 19 May, Gyumri on 20 May, Kapan on 26 May, and Yeghegnadzor on 27 May. The open air festival in Yerevan was launched by a cycling race. More than 150 cyclists participated, starting at Northern Avenue, they were joined the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski.

ARS_8034An information fair and concert started several hours later. Prior to these activities, the Ambassador gave a press briefing: ‘Europe Day is a day of solidarity, freedom and unity. These values link the EU and Armenia; Europe is in Armenia more than ever. Indeed, the EU is very active in Yerevan. In the past 7 years we have allocated more than €25 milion to the capital of Armenia. We helped to modernise the metro system and Nubarashen landfill. We continue to conduct energy efficiency projects that involve more than 200 kindergartens and public buildings. We are committed to help to replace street lighting in Yerevan and so much more! With €20 milion allocated to a project involving TUMO, we will now exceed investment of €40 milion in Yerevan. Therefore, these European symbols on Northern Avenue feel right at home!’

ARS_8463Europe Day celebrations in Yerevan included informational events during which the EU-Armenia cooperation and partnership, as well as diversity of European culture, were presented. The information fair included presentations and demonstrations by EU-funded projects and initiatives; these are projects that aim to ensure equal development of all Armenian marzes in many areas: human rights, agriculture, culture, education, tourism, business support, civil society, migration, youth, and more. Visitors had the opportunity to walk around and learn about these projects, participate in cultural activities and competitions, to get Europe Day branded gifts and souvenirs, to enjoy dancing and music, and to taste delicious European foods. The main guests of the evening event in Yerevan were popular Armenian singer Iveta Mukuchyan and French star VJ Zyper.

On May 29 an opera concert was performed at the Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre for Europe Day 2018. The concert was organised by the EU Delegation to Armenia together with the A. Spendiaryan Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre. Prior to the concert, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, and the Director and Artistic Director of the National Opera and Ballet Academic Theatre, Constantine Orbelian, gave a press conference.

ARS_6303_Ambassador Świtalski was honoured to organise a concert with the theatre: ‘This is the cultural highlight of our Europe Day celebrations. We started on 11 May, travelled all across Armenia with our events, and now we are back in Yerevan. We are very happy that Maestro Orbelian agreed to cooperate with us. The fact that we have an opera evening is symbolic – opera is about love. The revolution of love that Armenia experienced recently fits very well’.

ARS_6335_Director Orbelian thanked the EU Delegation for the initiative: ‘Who can imagine European Opera Days without European Opera in Armenia? We will perform parts and arias of great European operas and operettas. We have wonderful soloists who will perform for us this evening. Because of the rainy weather we were obliged to come to the theatre, although the concert was initially planned as open-air’.

This year has been announced as the European Year of Cultural Heritage; Opera Europe has joined the celebrations, bringing performing arts through the launch of European Opera Days. This concert was an opportunity to promote classical music culture, remind that cultural heritage belongs to everyone, support Armenian opera, and promote European cultural heritage in Armenia by underlining Armenian and European cultural ties.

ARS_6563_Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zohrab Mnataskanyan, attended the concert and made a speech: ‘Armenia continues to expand its ties with the European Union and EU member states. Significant developments have been taking place in our relations with the EU since last year’s celebration of Europe Day. The Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed in November 2017 and ratified by Armenia in April this year. It is not just a new legal instrument regulating relations between Armenia and EU, but an expression of partnership based on a common system of values. In February, we signed the EU-Armenia Partnership Priorities document which, along with CEPA, will function as the main guidelines for further development of bilateral cooperation. The new agreement is a unique development plan with its clear goals and timetable. Its successful implementation will have a profound impact on almost all areas of public life’.

On 26 May Kapan celebrated Europe Day in the sun. People gathered under the values of peace and unity on Garegin Nzhdeh Square for music, dance, theatre, and prizes. Before the start of the celebrations, a presentation on the “Introducing Construction Materials from Plastic Waste” (IES) project was made. The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, and the Deputy Mayor of Kapan, Romik Sargsyan, were among the audience.

797A0261For the first time in Armenia, a start-up recycling facility will be established in Kapan, Syunik marz, which will process plastic waste into building materials. To supply the start-up with enough plastic waste, the project will create infrastructure for its separation and collect plastics from Yeghegnadzor to Meghri, including 9 communities in Vayots Dzor and Syunik marzes. The first batch of curbstones and street tiles created will be used to improve public spaces in those communities involved. The two-year project has a total budget of €749,963 (the EU contribution is €509,978).

ARS_4414In his speech the EU Ambassador highlighted that this year Europe Day celebrations had taken on a lighter, festive character: ‘We are so glad to be here again and celebrate Europe Day. This place is very symbolic for us – we consider Kapan to be the southeastern gate to Europe. Coming to Kapan is a must for us in our road map. Just a while ago I was introduced to a new project which was launched in Kapan concerning plastic waste processing. The EU is happy to be helpful in cleaning up the environment and creating new jobs. This is only the beginning – there will be more projects like this in Kapan and elsewhere in Syunik marz’.

797A0540Deputy Mayor Sargsyan welcomed citizens and guests to the celebrations: ‘Europe has been in Kapan for a long time. We have been cooperating with the European Union for many years. We acknowledge the ecological problems in Syunik marz and are now implementing a project to separate plastic from waste and benefit from this. We already have a garbage truck and rubbish bins for plastic in Kapan. Thanks to the ecological component of the project, we will keep our city clean. The social component will create jobs and create a new culture. I am confident that our joint efforts will yield wonderful results’.

ARS_5633On the next day the last regional Europe Day celebration took place in Yeghegnadzor. Residents of Vayots Dzor marz gathered in the city’s amphitheatre to participate in different activities: enjoy good music and dance, participate in various competitions, win surprise gifts, and taste different European dishes.  Ambassador Świtalski and the Mayor of Yeghegnadzor, Davit Harutyunyan, welcomed the guests and gave their congratulations for Europe Day.

ARS_5333Ambassador Świtalski thanked the Mayor and his team for hosting the event: ‘Thank you so much for coming and sharing with us the joy of Europe Day. It is an honour to be in Yeghegnadzor on the eve of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. Let me congratulate Armenia and its citizens on this occasion. The motto of this year’s celebration is “Europe is here”. Europe is indeed very much in Yeghegnadzor. We want to conduct more projects in this beautiful city and this marz. We feel very much at home here thanks to your hospitality’.

ARS_5345Mayor Harutyunyan thanked the EU Delegation for celebrating Europe Day in Yeghegnadzor: ‘I am full of joy that Europe Day is being celebrated in our city for the second year in a row. It is lovely that our citizens have had the opportunity to get acquainted with EU-funded projects. I hope our future cooperation will continue to be effective and that we will be able to implement projects in different areas’.