Tag Archives: civil society

On 24 May the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee delegation, led by its Chair David McAllister (EPP, DE), arrived in Armenia as part of a regional tour to the South Caucasus. After landing in Armenia, the 8 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) first went to Tsitsernakaberd, laid a wreath at the Genocide Memorial, and visited the Armenian Genocide Museum and Institute.

ARS_2886The next day working agenda was busy. The delegation met with Armenian civil society representatives to exchange views on the current domestic and regional political situation, as well as on human rights protection in the country. Later, the MEPs met with the representatives of international organisations in Armenia. The next stop was Yerevan Regional State College #1. The MEPs were excited to visit the college and learn about its activities. The college is one of the 12 pilot vocational and educational training (VET) colleges included in the European Union’s budget support programme.

ARS_3286McAllister and the committee members met the Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan, the Chairman of the Armenian National Assembly, Ara Babloyan, parliamentarians from the ruling and opposition parties, and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Edward Nalbandian. The committee’s visit concluded with a press conference.

ARS_3362McAllister thanked his Armenian hosts for their hospitality and spoke about the state of EU-Armenia relations: ‘Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union and at the same time, it is signing this ambitious agreement with the European Union. This is the demonstration that our Eastern Partnership is not a zero-sum game, in competition against other regional actors. Instead, I strongly believe that cooperation of all responsible players is needed to find common solutions to problems that affect many people’s lives – I am thinking in particular of the relationship between Armenia and its neighbour Azerbaijan.
This next government will have many challenges to tackle, starting with the implementation of necessary reforms such as the reform of the judiciary, fight against corruption and anti-discrimination. Improving the business climate and creating economic growth opportunities to boost employment – especially of the young Armenians – is a strong expectation from the society, and rightly so’.

McAllister and the EU Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, answered many journalists’ questions, including those on the latest announcements of the OSCE Minsk Group, the closing of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, and alleged human rights violations.

The European Union has launched two new calls for project proposals on its ongoing grants programmes. The total amount available under these new calls is €4.4 million.
On 10 April the Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, announced the launch of first call for projects proposals for the “Reinforcing Civil Society in Armenia” grant scheme in Yerevan. The budget is €1.5 million. This scheme aims to strengthen civil society in Armenia and to provide civil society organisations (CSOs) with alternative sources of financing. The EU is looking for innovative projects that will make Armenia a healthier, safer, cleaner place and more sustainable.

ARS_2475The Ambassador highlighted the importance of the grant scheme: ‘It’s a great pleasure for me that the European Union is continuing grant programmes in Armenia. Today we’ll speak about a call for proposals targeting our civil society partners. What is it about? Firstly, we want to strengthen the capacity of civil society to monitor the implementation of our programmes here. Secondly, we want to promote responsible citizenship in Armenia to increase public accountability. We are asking civil society to be motivational and organise public campaigns around nutrition, road safety, energy saving, environment, recycling, etc. Thirdly, we want to help civil society to diversify finance streams and be more sustainable, including fundraising, crowdfunding campaigns and social enterprises’.

ARS_2514Grants can be between €150,000-400,000 in size. Sub-granting, the provision of financial support to third parties, will be a core characteristic of this call. Applicants applying under the objective of increasing CSOs’ monitoring capacity must propose financial support to third parties. This support can be in many different forms, for example prizes for independent investigative journalists. The press conference was followed by an information session for stakeholder representatives to present detailed information about the grant scheme and the rules for participation in call.
On 11 April, the Ambassador visited Gyumri to announce a new €2.9 million grant scheme. This has been designed to promote an inclusive and empowered society in Armenia by facilitating participation of civil society and local authorities in poverty reduction and sustainable development processes at the local level.  It will contribute to raising economic competitiveness, creating jobs, and reducing labour migration in the regions. This call for proposals has the objective to enhance people-to-people contact and local community development through sport, culture, education and tourism.

ARS_2610Ambassador Świtalski noted that it was a pleasure to launch a new call for proposals: ‘This is a very interesting and important project. The EU is very committed to helping local communities. The projects proposed can support the development of outdoor activities, such as summer and winter sports, that can have an impact on tourism development; educational programmes to complement compulsory education and offer higher education institutions innovative learning platforms and spaces; create cultural associations to promote the performing arts, music, theatres, literature, painting, animation, filming, etc’.

Grants will be between €300,000-600,000 in size. Sub-granting will again be a core characteristic of the call. Concrete tourism-orientated actions led by CSOs (Lot 1) or local authorities and their associations (Lot 2) must mobilise communities to promote tourism as a means for local economic development. Under Lot 1, applicants must support third parties, which can include prizes to top performers and change makers, including journalists or young entrepreneurs.
The press conference in Gyumri was also followed by an information session for stakeholders. These two calls complement the large-scale EU-supported capacity building and re-granting programmes for civil society currently ongoing in Armenia, as well as the recently announced €1 million grant scheme for regional development, which is aimed at promoting culture and the creative sector.

A press conference on the draft law on Public Organisations took place on 8 April 2015. The conference was held by the Head of Cooperation Section in the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian; RA Deputy Minister of Justice, Arsen Mkrtchyan; the Head of the British Council office in Armenia, Arevik Saribekyan, and the Project Manager of “Support to Democratic Government in Armenia”,, John White.
The draft law on Public Organisations was developed within the frameworks of the EU-funded project called “Support to Democratic Government in Armenia”, which was launched in March 2014. Overall objective of the programme is bringing Armenia closer to the EU through consolidating statehood, democracy and good governance. The specific objective of the project is to strengthen civil society and democratic governance, as well as disseminate objective information, develop independent media, and support political pluralism in Armenia.. There were organised discussions on the draft law with 51 CSOs and public officials, media professionalism trainings, master classes with media professionals, workshop on organizational development and social enterprise development with 40 CSO representatives.
ARS_6248The Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian, introduced the importance of the programme to the guests. “There have been discussions, disagreements to come to that draft proposal and today is the final discussion, after which the law will be submitted to the National Assembly. The EU, all the donors and the Government believe that only the development of the social enterprise with all the civil societies to become sustainable factor will bring a change for a better monitoring of the Government policies and for the provision of quality services to the citizens. The civil society sector is instrumental in promoting human rights, advocating policy changes and contributing good governance”.
The programme is implemented in 5 regions of Armenia – Lori, Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Gergharkunik and Tavush. More than 100 civil society representatives were included in the programme, which had 15 events, 715 000 media reach and 44 000 digital views.The EU funding for the programme is € 949, 670.
Armenian Deputy Minister of Justice, Arsen Mkrtchyan, was involved in the whole process of the programme. “There were very open and beneficial discussions in the initial phase of the programme. The draft law is efficient and we hope it will have a final version in near future. The draft law includes many possible changes in different laws to become more flexible”.
The programme is also aimed at strengthening media capacity and skills, at promoting good governance, the transparency of government activities, and active participation in public policy. After the press conference, the draft law on Public Organisations was presented to beneficiary side and journalists.