Tag Archives: Bradley Busetto

On 11 December Matenadaran in Yerevan hosted the Universal Rights Award Ceremony. This ceremony has existed since 2012, and was the first initiative of the international community to highlight the contributions of Armenia’s civil and political rights activists, government officials, media and civil society representatives to promoting human rights. The organisers honoured individuals working in Armenia to promote human rights, freedom of expression, diversity, religious acceptance, democracy, transparency, legal reform and equal rights in the country.

ARS_8926The UN resident Coordinator in Armenia, Bradley Busetto, presented the “Woman of Courage” award to the Chairman of the Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organisation, Ani Balkhian. The Head of the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, Natalia Voutova, handed over the “Government Reformer” award to Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Justice, Vigen Kocharyan. The US Ambassador to Armenia, Richard Mills, presented the “Media Excellence” award to MediaLab Newsroom Laboratory. The UK Deputy Head of Mission, Alison Chick, gave the “Freedom Defender” award to the representative of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Isabella Sargsyan. This year, for the first time, the French and German Embassies in Armenia presented a joint “Franco-German Prize for Equal Chances”. The Gyumri-based “Agate – Rights Defence Centre for Women with Disabilities” NGO received this award.

ARS_8975The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, awarded the “Union of Informed Citizens” NGO and its Programme Director, Daniel Ioannisyan, with the “Promoting Justice and Transparency” award. He said: ‘It is a big day for all of us. This award is very important, at least from my perspective. We live in times when demand for justice in our society is growing – Armenia is no exception. We need more justice – for centuries our civilisation developed on the concept of delayed justice: justice will come, but later. Transparency is a part of justice. I want to congratulate Daniel for his courageous efforts to increase transparency in Armenia. Transparency can be inconvenient, “dirty” work as it can show us things we do not want to see. But thanks to guys like him, we are aware what to change in our society. I hope that, due to his initiative, in the coming months and years Armenia will dedicate itself to cleaning up its electoral processes and ridding its schools of political manipulation and propaganda. This is very important for democracy in Armenia’.

On 27 November the campaign “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence” (GBV) was officially launched in Matenadaran, Yerevan, to raise public awareness of and hold different events on GBV across Armenia. The campaign takes place from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10 (Human Rights Day). This year’s campaign theme is “Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls”.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, Armenia’s Vice President of the National Assembly, Arpine Hovhannisyan, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender, Arman Tatoyan, the UN resident Coordinator in Armenia, Bradley Busetto, the Head of the Council of Europe Office in Yerevan, Natalia Voutova, and the Ambassadors of France, Germany, United Kingdom and United States of America in Armenia took the floor to reconfirm their commitment to protecting the rights of women and girls and promoting women’s empowerment in Armenia.

ARS_9288Violence against women and girls remains one of the most serious human rights violations in the world. Almost one third of women in relationships report that they have experienced some form of violence, mostly from an intimate partner. According to the official data of the Armenia’s Investigative Committee, 215 criminal cases on domestic violence were investigated in the first half of 2017 in Armenia. Almost one third of criminal cases refer to violence used by men against their partners. The European Union and its member states place women’s human rights and gender equality at the core of all its external policies. The EU makes every possible effort to strengthen the voice of women, empower, and to assert their political, social, and economic rights women and girls. The 2016-2020 EU Gender Action Plan serves as the main guiding framework for EU actions and cooperation with partner countries, international and civil society organisations, and the private sector.

ARS_9384Ambassador Świtalski praised the work done by the Armenian government and civil society on this issue: ‘Last Friday we had a big event, as the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit was held in Brussels, Belgium. The leaders of EaP reaffirmed their commitment to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. What happened last Friday with the new EU-Armenia Agreement was also very important. Let me make very simple observations: firstly, from our perspective, the dignity of women is never relative, never conditional; secondly, human rights are indivisible, they should be applied equally; finally, let me make it very clear that the EU does not impose any values on our partners. We have never tried and there are no mechanisms to do it. Armenia is in a good situation, as we have declared that we share the values; therefore, there is nothing to impose as we are on the same page. We will continue our work on the basis of this new agreement and make these values strong and functioning for the benefit of ordinary citizens of Armenia, in particular for women’.

ARS_9372NA Vice President Hovhannisyan presented the situation in Armenia from a legislative perspective: ‘Any violence is chargeable, including violence against women and girls. Violence has a negative effect not only on an individual’s psychological, sexual or physical health, but also an institutional impact: it directly and/or indirectly affects the sustainable development of states. The high numbers in our country of GBV are worrying. The draft law on “Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence” is currently on the agenda of the National Assembly (NA). This week it’s on the agenda of the Standing Committee on State and Legal Affairs and Protection of Human Rights,and where it will be discussed. Serious work has been done to address ongoing concerns. After the committee’s discussion, the draft law will be included in the agenda of the NA plenary session and will again be discussed. At present, the draft law is in line with international standards’.

A new border-crossing point (BCP) in Bavra (Shirak marz) will now offer Armenian citizens many advantages: simplified procedures, reduced waiting times, modern infrastructure, equipment, and improved security. It will enhance Armenia’s regional connectivity by promoting international trade, transit and tourism.

ARS_1542On 1 October the official opening ceremony of the Bavra BCP was attended by the Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, the Chairman of the Armenian State Revenue Committee, Vardan Harutyunyan, the UN resident Coordinator in Armenia, Bradley Busetto, the Head of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Regional Representation for the South Caucasus, Sébastien Husson de Sampigny, Government officials responsible for border management, and representatives from International Organisations, Diplomatic Corps, and the Media. The construction and upgrade of Bavra BCP were done through the EU-funded and UNDP-implemented “Modernisation of Bagratashen, Bavra and Gogavan Border Crossing Points of Armenia” (MBBG) project.

ARS_1594The new Bavra facility, together with the Bagratashen and Gogavan BCPs that were officially inaugurated on 4 November 2016, is one more step towards enhanced security and the provision of more efficient services by border agencies. However, facilities are only one part of the story. This modern BCP and professional border staff will help facilitate trade and the transit of goods, reduce associated time and costs, as well as make cross-border movement of people for business and social purposes more comfortable. Previously, under the 2017 European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) survey of Eastern Partnership BCPs, Bagratashen BCP (together with Zvartnots International Airport) scored highest in terms of traveller satisfaction with the border-crossing experience. Criteria included infrastructure, safety, professionalism of border officers, access to additional information, and facilities for children and the elderly.

ARS_1774Ambassador Świtalski congratulated all project partners for opening the third crossing point: ‘Opening this completely reconstructed BCP in Bavra is an excellent example of EU-Armenia cooperation to improve Armenia’s connectivity and support to its trade and economic development. The upgraded Bavra BCP is in line with international standards and designed to be convenient for both businesses and citizens. Together with the Bagratashen and Gogavan BCPs it will ensure 3 alternative routes for the movement of goods between Armenia, Georgia and beyond. They will stimulate the development of the marzes through which the routes pass. The EU is committed to continue supporting these initiatives and will work closely with all Armenian counterparts to replicate this design at other BCPs on the Armenian borders’.

ARS_1730Chairman Harutyunyan thanked all partners for their assistance on MBBG: ‘I am convinced that efforts from the Armenian Government and Governmental partners will continue this BCP modernisation process. Now the modernisation of Armenia’s southern border has begun in Meghri. Design and other estimates for the BCP have already started’.

De Sampigny talked about EIB assistance: ‘Iam pleased that EIB funding contributed to the upgrade of the three border crossings between Armenia and Georgia. Based on my personal experience, this will greatly facilitate people’s travel and exchange of goods; thus, it will benefit the whole region, as well as the European Union’.

ARS_1162Armenia received a €30.8 million EIB loan for MBBG to upgrade infrastructure and equipment at the three BCPs. This loan was complemented by a grant of €17.2 million from the European Union, and a Government contribution of €4.44 million. UNDP was the main implementer of the project and also made a financial contribution of €1.9 million.