Tag Archives: Armenia

On 14 March an analytical report on peoples’ expectations and needs of justice in Armenia was presented. The research was conducted from May-December 2016 by the EU Justice Monitoring Project across the whole territory of Armenia.
The report is based on comparative results of public perception and professional evaluation of the quality of justice and the activity of justice institutions in Armenia, particularly the courts. Attention was also paid to how justice institutions/service providers perceive qualitative features of justice and how they behave when fulfilling their duties and exercising the law.

^62E2586588A45E8C81182A397F5ADF7AB1DDBE72422E7E2027^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrViewpoints of judicial service providers and judicial theorists and practitioners were gathered to enhance the analysis of public confidence and improvements to the quality of justice services. Justice monitoring focused on the following areas: independence and accountability; equality, competition and other qualities of a fair trial; predictability of justice; accessibility of justice services; efficiency of justice services; trust and confidence. The results have exposed gaps and shortcomings, such as a lack of trust in the legitimacy of the justice system, a lack of general knowledge among the population about justice processes, corruption, and other concerns over independence, accountability, transparency, accessibility and efficiency of the judiciary. The EU welcomes the intention of the Government to incorporate these results into legal and judicial reforms.
The Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, and the Armenian First Deputy Minister of Justice, Artur Hovhannisyan, attended the presentation.

^E27D200072A377F37C4A8E978D5F6C36612C863E01BA558E27^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrAmbassador Świtalski praised the research: “I believe that this research can greatly help all stakeholders, starting with the Armenian Government and the Ministry of Justice, which are very busy now preparing reforms to the judiciary in Armenia. For the European Union, judicial reforms are an absolute priority in Armenia. The EU has allocated more than €50 million to help the judiciary sector, the Ministry of Justice, and other related agencies. We believe that Armenia is moving forward and entering into a quite an important phase. The people of Armenia expect deep reforms and a fundamental transformation in the country. This research is a way to satisfy their needs and expectations, and include them in further reforms”.
Hovhannisyan also stressed the importance of the research: “Today is a very important day. First of all, this document is, figuratively, a “home task” for the Ministry of Justice.  It should be thoroughly explored to see how it can complement further reform processes. Why is it important? Different viewpoints about various issues are represented. I have managed to explore it a little bit and I can say that this is a thorough an extensive work has been done”.

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.

ARS_8408During 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’.

ARS_8430Lusine 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.

On 17 February, the EU Ambassador to Armenia, Piotr Świtalski, made a one-day working visit to Gyumri, Shirak region. The day began with official meetings with Hovsep Simonyan, the Governor of Shirak region, and Samvel Balasanyan, the Mayor of Gyumri. The parties discussed development priorities for the region and the city, focusing on the cultural and creative sectors.
Later on, at a press conference, Ambassador Świtalski announced the launch of the €1 million Grant Scheme for Regional Development. This is aimed at ensuring economic growth, creating jobs and reducing emigration by promoting culture and the creative sector in Shirak region.

ARS_7522The Ambassador highlighted the importance of the project, especially in Shirak region: ‘Gyumri is one of the best places to launch a project to develop the economy through culture. Gyumri has cultural potential and huge capacity. The EU is very adamant to promoting regional development in Armenia. We believe that one of the obstacles confronting Armenia is the imbalance between the capital and the regions. In order to develop successfully and in a sustainable way, this gap should be filled. Therefore, we believe that the EU Delegation to Armenia should be orientated towards the purpose of regional development’.

This grant scheme is the second call for proposals under the Pilot Regional Development Programme Grant Scheme (PRDP GS). The overall objective of PRDP GS is to create more economic opportunities in the Armenian regions.The first call for proposals was published in September 2015 and 7 PRDP grant contracts were signed with the EU and the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration as a result. Project implementation started at the beginning of this year.
The second call for proposals will select one or two additional regional projects focused on culture and innovation for funding. Eligible organisations from all regions can apply if they find a suitable regional partner from the target region.
The available budget for this second call for proposals is almost €1 million, of which €700,000 is provided by the European Union and €175,000 by the Armenian government. Applicants have to provide a minimum of 10% in co-financing themselves. Selected projects should be implemented within a maximum of 24 months. The deadline for the submission of concept notes is 24 March 2017. Full project proposals will be elaborated only by short-listed candidates.

ARS_7862In the evening, Ambassador Świtalski, Governor Simonyan and Mayor Balasanyan met again at a concert of classical music. The concert entitled ‘Culture and Development: Building Bridges’ marked the launch of the grant scheme which will promote the development of cultural and creative sectors in Shirak region.

On 2 February, Christian Danielsson, the European Union’s Director General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, was in Armenia as a part of his official visit to the South Caucasus.
The working visit started in Ijevan, Tavush region. Director General Christian Danielsson and Arpine Hovhannisyan, the Armenian Minister of Justice, participated in the official plaque unveiling ceremony of the newly-constructed building of the Court of First Instance in the city of Ijevan. The construction of the court’s building was financed by the European Union and was opened in 2012.

ARS_5542After the plaque unveiling ceremony, Danielsson spoke about EU-Armenia cooperation and reforms: ‘I am in Armenia for the first time and it’s very important that the first thing that I have done here is take part in this celebration. The rule of law is a pillar of any society. An independent, impartial and efficient judiciary is a key for solving national problems and for ensuring rights and opportunities for citizens.The EU strongly supports Armenian government reforms to the judiciary. We have invested 23 billion drams in these reforms and we will continue our support. What we are seeing today is concrete action and a symbol of that cooperation. It’s not only about the building but also the justice system. This whole project and reforms are also essential elements in fighting corruption. This is not only a local event, it’s a part of a large-scale reform package’.

Minister Hovhannsiyan thanked the EU for its continuing support: ‘This event is another opportunity to express our gratitude. European Union’s support to Armenia’s justice system is hugeand it covers the penitentiary system, judicial system and many other areas. We have seen many positive results and are making progress. Have we achieved everything we want? Of course we haven’t but we clearly understand where we need to go’.

Later on, the delegation participated in the launch of the unified office for the joint provision of state services in Ijevan. This office will allow citizens to apply for and receive references concerning the state registration of the real estate rights, registration of legal entities, references concerning the lack of criminal record, registration of civil acts and references concerning the rights over movables.
The same day, after the official meetings, Danielsson visited Sevanavank and then Matenadaran. The Director General held a public lecture and discussion with Armenian youth in Matenadaran on the EU-Armenia relations.
On 03 February, Christian Danielsson, accompanied by Luc Devigne, Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Cooperation, and OSCE (EEAS) met with President Serzh Sargsyan, Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian, representatives of civil society to discuss common priorities for further EU-Armenia cooperation.

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On 1 February, the EU Delegation to Armenia launched a campaign to raise awareness of the negative effects of corruption and to highlight EU’s efforts in support of the fight against corruption in Armenia.
The campaign “Stop the Flow of Corruption”, developed in cooperation with the Armenian Government, anti-corruption experts, representatives of the civil society and the private sector, portrays typical examples of corruption (i.e. bribery, conflict of interests, oligopoly) and their harmful effects to the economic growth. It also shows what the EU and Armenia are doing together for reducing corruption within the society.
Piotr Świtalski, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Suren Krmoyan, the Armenian Deputy Minister of Justice, and Karen Zadoyan, the President of the Armenian Lawyers’ Association, attended the press conference and made statements.

ARS_5323The Ambassador welcomed the efforts of everyone involved in the development of the campaign: ‘The EU Delegation to Armenia wants to make 2017 a year anti-corruption. We believe it is a year of opportunity, we can make a decisive step forward.  We decided to start the campaign when Transparency International put Armenia lower in the Corruption Perception Index. This campaign is a good opportunity for Armenia to climb up again. For these efforts to be successful we need public support and societal feedback’.

ARS_5280Deputy Minister Krmoyan thanked the EU for its support: ‘Armenia’s government has a consistent position in the fight against corruption and we have been taking clear steps. For example, in recent months, with the help of our partners, we have criminalised illicit enrichment. Challenges are making us use alternative methods to fight corruption. We have limited resources, but we are firm in our struggle’.

ARS_5298Zadoyan highlighted the importance of the campaign: ‘We all encounter different forms of corruption every day. But where are the problems hidden? Where we can deal with those forms of corruption? The problems are hidden in two places. The first one is administrative, the second – political. Huge work has been done in both areas – 9 years ago, when we were talking about criminalisation of illicit enrichment, no one believed it could happen. But now it is a reality. 2017 will be year of challenges, but we are ready to fight’.
The “Stop the Flow of Corruption” campaign will continue throughout 2017 and will highlight different aspects of corruption and ways to fight it.

 

 

 

January, the first month of 2017 was an Innovative month. The Armenian second “Public Sector Innovation Week” series of events took place from 19-27 January. The week of events was organised as part of the EU-funded “Innovation for Development” project, which is being implemented by UNDP/Kolba Innovations Lab.
The first event of “Public Sector Innovation Week” was devoted to a 4-day workshop about the design and development of future “Open Governance” facility in Armenia. How do new technologies affect public administration? How do public sector representatives respond to these changes? These questions were discussed on 23 January during a non-formal PechaKucha meeting.
On 27 January, the week concluded with a “Public Innovation” award ceremony. In 2016, Kolba Innovations Lab, with the support of the Armenian government, released a call for civil servants to come up with innovative ideas for the public sector.  State employees of the Ministry of Justice and the Administration of Prime Minister submitted 23 applications to resolve small-scale issues through innovative means.
Piotr Świtalski, the EU Ambassador in Armenia, Bradley Busetto, the UN resident Coordinator in Armenia, Vache Gabrielyan, the Armenian Deputy Prime Minister, and Arpine Hovhannisyan, the Armenian Minister of Justice, attended the awards ceremony.

ARS_4815Ambassador Świtalski highlighted the importance of innovation in the public sector: ‘Let me make a clear distinction: when we say innovation, we don’t mean invention. There is a big difference between invention and innovation. Making inventions is not so difficult, but innovation is very challenging because you need a system – a proper, modern governance to bring all of the ideas to life. The EU is happy that we can support projects like this. We want to be associated with creativity and innovation. When we hear from the new government that the future of the country should be based on a vision of an intellectual Armenia, it looks like a perfect match. The project seemed risky at first but we are thrilled at the number of applicants and the positive feedback. I hope that it will leave a mark’.
Minister Hovhannisyan mentioned that these types of project motivate young people to implement their innovative ideas: ‘I am happy to be here not because it’s a joint programme but because of the project theme. I am also happy that the Ministry of Justice has assumed the role of leader in the implementation of innovation programmes, such as the recently launched www.e-draft.am which publishes drafts of legal acts, and unified offices for the joint provision of state services, etc. We must think without hesitation and move forward fast’.
The six best and most innovative ideas were awarded prizes and certificates. UNDP/Kolba Innovations Lab, with the help of the EU, will support incubation projects in idea incubation and implementation phases. Encouraging awards were also given out during the ceremony.

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On 27 January, Impact Hub Yerevan invited everyone to the launch of “The Art of (anti) Corruption” project. This campaign is a year-long series of events in partnership with the European Union. The campaign seeks to raise awareness and educate citizens on the complicated effects of corruption on Armenian society through artistic and cultural interpretations of corruption in the country and beyond. It will use various art forms to break down perceptions that corruption in Armenia is inevitable.
The campaign kicked off with an “Ideathon” evening. The aim of the Ideathon was to bring creative minds together to come up with appropriate messages for the programme to best reach the general public in Armenia.

ARS_5016Piotr Świtalski, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia attended the event and highlighted the importance of the project: ‘The EU is helping Armenia to combat corruption; corruption is one of the greatest obstacles to Armenia’s development both today and tomorrow. We have helped Armenia in different ways and at different levels – we support both government and CSO anti-corruption initiatives. This project is interesting because it’s new, innovative, and important. It’s important because it will use innovation to reach diverse audiences and prepare them for fighting corruption. Combining anti-corruption efforts at different levels Armenia can adopt and use international best practice’.

ARS_4984Sara Anjargolian, Co-founder & CEO of Impact Hub Yerevan, welcomed the EU’s support for the initiative: ‘All of us need to do something about corruption. We decided together that art can act as an effective bridge between different topics. We will work with the European Union over the comingyear and put on various events. This evening we have gathered, people from different spheres, to understand what kind of messages we would like to spread during those events via art’.
Anti-corruption messages will be used during variety of events over the course of the year, including videos, comedy sketches, art exhibitions,cartoons/comics, andTEDx talks.

On International Anti-Corruption Day, December 9, the EU Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, launched the demo version of “Anti-corruption game of the next generation” at the Tumo Centre for Creative Technologies. The first comic about the game was also presented.

ars_0157Created by Tumo and funded by the European Union, the game targets youth. On the fictional planet of Neto, the game has levels full of challenges for players to raise awareness about the risks of the corruption, and rewards players which confront it. The game was created by 16-20-year-old students at Tumo. The launch of the game was entitled ‘Stop the Flow of Corruption’. Under this heading the EU reaffirms its support to Armenia’s government and civil society in their fight against corruption.

ars_0117Ambassador Świtalski praised Tumo’s involvement in creating the game: ‘This event is special for the EU because it showcases innovative new approaches to fighting corruption. People are wanting to move away from talking to active prevention. The best way to prevent is to start with children, because a culture in which corruption is unacceptable should be developed from an early age. We hope that young Armenians will come to understand that corruption is very harmful. In this process, we have appreciated our cooperation with Tumo. Some of you may remember Carlos Moedas, the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, was in Yerevan a few weeks ago for the 8th Eastern Partnership Informal Ministerial Meeting. He visited Tumo and was very impressed. He even said that what he saw here was better than what he had seen in Silicon Valley – Tumo now has an ambassador in Europe and Armenia has a new symbol alongside Mount Ararat and brandy. This is the way it should be, because Armenians are very talented’.

Pegor Papazian, a Tumo Board Member, lauded the EU’s support: ‘We are interested in the longer termachievements at Tumo and we are grateful to the EU for having given us the chance to create this game and to inform the younger generation about the risks of corruption’.
After the game’s launch, event invitees had the opportunity to play the demo version.

On 15 December, the EU Delegation to Armenia officially launched the “Support to the Public Debt Management Department (PDMD) of the Ministry of Finance” programme, which will take place from 2017-2018. The programme will support PDMD to continue its efforts to increase the efficiency of the public debt market.
The programme launch took place during the presentations on the Armenian government’s 2017-2019 medium-term debt strategy, the 2017 financing plan, and other planned technical reforms. Major stakeholders in the Armenian public debt market attended the presentations.

2Hoa-Binh Adjemian, the Head of Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, welcomed the openness of the Ministry of Finance to improving efficiency: ‘Transparency in public debt practice is essential. It automatically increases the credibility of the issuer, reassuring and attracting public and private foreign investors. Through this project we confirm that the European Union stands by the Armenian government in prioritising public investment projects and promoting more public-private partnerships. The EU hopes that this good practice, the transparent presentation of the government’s plans to all major stakeholders in the Armenian public debt market and international financial institutions, will become an annual tradition and enormously strengthen Armenia’s international credibility’.

Armen Hayrapetyan, the Deputy Minister of Finance, lauded the EU’s support in this area: ‘Over the last ten years, our government had cooperated with various international organisations to plan and implement more cautious and targeted debt policies.We have been working with the EU for a year now and we hope that this cooperation will continue’.

ars_0751The EU has been investing in key infrastructure projects in Armenia since 2009. Investments totalling more than €100 million have been invested by the EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility and have leveraged, on average, more than half a  billion euros in public investment. The EU’s support in enhancing public debt and public investment management is aimed towards safeguarding Armenia’s growth capacity and smooth economic development.

Seven new projects financed through the Pilot Regional Development Programme (PRDP) will help to create more economic opportunities in Armenian marzes. On 13 December, during the “Armenian Regions Benefiting from Strategic Planning and Comprehensive RD Projects” regional development conference, 7 PRDP grant contracts were signed and over €9 million in support funds were allocated to different sectors in the target marzes of Shirak, Lori, Syunik, Armavir, Vayots Dzor, Gegharkunik, and Tavush.
Piotr Świtalski, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Davit Lokyan, the Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Development (MTAD), and the heads of those organisations which were awarded grants all attended the contract signing event.

3The Ambassador welcomed PRDP’s focus on regional development: ‘This is an important moment for the EU, because we believe that our future strategy should be based on promoting sustainable regional development in Armenia. Armenia’s economic resilience hinges on overcoming the gap that exists between Yerevan and the marzes. This gap is significant. Cooperation with the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development towards this end has long been very constructive. For us, it’s a long-term choice to focus more on cooperation in the marzes, especially where the gap is most explicit’.

2Lokyan said the EU’s support could have multiple benefits: ‘GDP per capita is 2.5 times less in many marzes,than in Yerevan. Programmes like PRDP will help to overcome poverty in Armenia’s regions. There should be no GDP gap between Yerevan and other marzes’.
The successful grantees will begin to implement their projects in early 2017. The expected outputs are different: the projects will support 2,200 persons to increase their employability through skills development, more than 700 enterprises to increase competitiveness, and 500 new jobs will be directly created, more than 320 enterprises will increase their competitiveness measured in increased turnover or employment.

The PRDP call for proposals opened on 14 September 2015, and welcomed project ideas from all over the country, albeit those which focused on regional development.
PRDP’s total budget is almost €10 million, of which €7 million was provided by the European Union and €1.75 million by the Armenian government. Grant applicants were required to co-finance their proposals by a minimum of 10% co-financing themselves.
A second call for proposals will be opened by the EU and MTAD in January 2017. It will aim to select one o two additional regional projects to be financed from remaining PRPD funds. Project ideas for Shirak marz in the cultural and creative sectors will be invited.