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Southern Armenia has hosted Europe Day events, with the EU Delegation stopping for celebrations in Kapan and Goris (Syunik marz), and Yeghegnadzor (Vayots Dzor marz).

Kapan

11On 19 May Kapan welcomed its guests with sunny weather. In the morning, the Deputy Head of Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Gregory Tsouris, held a meeting with Ashot Hayrapetyan, the Mayor of Kapan. The meeting was followed by an Information Fair on Garegin Nzhdeh Square. Nearly 10 stalls presented EU-funded projects to the residents of Kapan. A DJ provided music while people used this opportunity to learn more about the European Union and its activities; their children enjoyed themselves in a special booth for kids. Tsouris and Hayrapetyan also toured the booths and welcomed guests.

1Tsouris introduced the concept of Europe Day to Kapan residents: ‘It is a great pleasure to be in Kapan. We are celebrating Europe Day here for the second time. Europe Day is an important milestone for all Europeans; it is a day to celebrate our common values. You have the opportunity to see some of the projects we are implementing in Armenia. It is also an opportunity to discuss our cooperation and speak about the future. I want to thank the Mayor for the support we received organising the celebration and for the warm welcome’.

111Mayor Hayrapetyan was grateful that Kapan had been included: ‘It is an honour for us to implement projects in Kapan with the help of the European Union. Now we have a two-year project which started in January. Plastic waste will start being used in construction in Kapan – plastic waste will be a raw material. As a result, we will establish a culture of sorting plastic waste and find opportunities to benefit from it. The EU’s support is great and we hope to have more ambitious projects’.

The children of Kapan’s Aram Khachaturian music school performed the Anthem of Europe to get the crowd for special guests Hayk Petorsyan and Masha Mnjoyan, who made sure the people of Kapan enjoyed the concert.

Goris

2On 20 May, Europe Day reached another city in Syunik Marz. The morning started with a meeting between the Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, and Vachagan Adunts, the Mayor of Goris. Grigor Tatevatsi Square hosted an Information Fair in windy, stormy weather. However, the weather swiftly turned and nearly 10 stalls then presented EU-funded projects to adults, while local children learned about the EU through drawing and other games. Soon they were joined by Ambassador Świtalski and Mayor Adunts.

22Ambassador Świtalski introduced Europe Day to the people of Goris: ‘We are happy to be in this beautiful garden town, where the most delicious beans are grown, to celebrate Europe Day together. There are several dimensions to these celebrations: firstly, we want Armenia to feel a part of the wider European family, as Europe Day is celebrated in all member states of the EU, as well as our neighbours. Secondly, we want to present the EU flag and our activities to people all over Armenia. Therefore, it is a great occasion for us to come to beautiful towns like Goris, show what we do in Armenia, and invite you to be more active in our projects. Thirdly, we want to promote different types of activity like music and sport’.

The anthem of Europe was performed before Hayk Petrosyan and Masha Mnjoyan. Despite the wet weather, the crowd filled the square to dance and sing along. While people were singing and dancing in the square, Ambassador Switalski and the mayor launched the European Night of Museums. The EU Delegation to Armenia opened an exhibition of paintings from the #Europe4Peace project at the Aksel Bakunts House Museum.

222The Ambassador highlighted the importance of the European Night of Museums: ‘It is very important that Armenia participates in this Europewide movement of museum nights. The initiative started in 2005 in France and was picked up by a number of international organisations, including the Council of Europe. At that time I was working with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. I never thought this beautiful initiative would spread so far to one day be embraced Armenia. We normally associate museums with buildings where old artefacts are stationed; but in fact museums are centres of learning’.

For #Europe4Peace pupils from art schools in Armenia were invited to create topical paintings associated with Europe and peace. Final selected paintings from 98 schools, including from Goris, were selected by a non-official jury. These paintings were first displayed during the Europe Day classical concert on 6 May, which opened Europe Day celebrations in Armenia.

Yeghegnadzor

On 21 May Yeghegnadzor was excited to host Europe Day for the first time. Celebrations started with an Information Fair at the Yeghegnadzor amphitheatre. More than 10 stalls presented EU-funded projects, giving visitors the opportunity to discover Europe, the European Union, and its projects in Armenia. Ambassador Świtalski and the Mayor of Yeghegnadzor, Davit Harutyunyan, also visited the booths.

3The Ambassador celebrated Yeghenadzor’s inclusion in the celebrations: ‘It is the first time that the EU has come to Yeghegnadzor to celebrate Europe Day. I hope that we are starting a beautiful tradition. I wanted to greet the citizens of the town, in particular the young generation. For us, Yeghegnadzor is a city of kind and hospitable people, the capital of Vayots Dzor, the smallest marz in Armenia, but with the biggest heart. We are grateful that we can celebrate Europe Day here in Armenia together. We fell at home here and invite you to enjoy this day, a day of joy’.

After the Anthem of Europe the Information Fair was followed by an open-air concert with Hayk Petrosyan and Masha Mnjoyan.

Europe Day celebrations reached the Armenian marzes after having been officially launched in Yerevan. The first stop of regional celebrations were in Gyumri (Shirak marz), Vanadzor (Lori marz), and Dilijan (Tavush marz).

Gyumri
Gyumri was the first city to host events on 12 May. In the morning, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, held a meeting with the Mayor of Gyumri, Samvel Balasanyan.

11After the meeting, Theatre Square opened Europe Day celebrations with an Information Fair. More than 20 stalls presented EU-funded projects, covering topics such as the environment, agriculture, business, investment, civil society, education, innovation, human rights, and youth. Visitors had the opportunity to tour the booths and learn about the programmes – there was a special booth for children to draw, as well as musical accompaniment from a DJ.

1After touring the booths, the Ambassador addressed the crowd and informed them about future plans: ‘We have a solid tradition of starting regional Europe Day celebrations in Gyumri, which makes me glad. Altogether we, the EU, have contributed more than €500 million to the development of Armenia. One of our priorities is to bring more projects to Gyumri and the rest of Shirak marz, to be more present and engaged here. We want the citizens of Gyumri to benefit more from the European Union’s activities in Armenia’.

Children from the Gyumri music schools performed the Anthem of Europe to open the Europe Day concert, which included special guests Hayk Petrosyan and Masha Mnjoyan. A wide variety of people gathered in front of the stage to sing and dance alongside their favourite performers.

Vanadzor
Vanadzor was the next city to join in the celebrations of peace and unity on 13 May. As in Gyumri, Ambassador Świtalski met with Mamikon Aslanyan, the Mayor of Vanadzor in morning, before an Information Fair on Hayq Square.

2This time more than 10 EU-funded projects focusing on agriculture, business, civil society, education and innovation were presented, giving visitors a chance to learn more about the EU and its assistance, and to feel closer to this engagement with the wider European family. Children were particularly drawn to the drawing tent, while adult and teenage residents enjoyed the ambient music of a local DJ and the good weather while browsing the stalls.

ARS_8279Ambassador Świtalski addressed the crowd after visiting the booths, highlighting the importance of Vanadzor: ‘Vanadzor is very important to the EU – the city is well known not only for its beauty but also for its very talented and dynamic youth. The EU is the biggest donor in Armenia, together with our member states we provide more than 50% of all international support to Armenia. We want more to work in the Armenian marzes, in cities like Vanadzor. We want to continue to support infrastructure, the development of tourism, and small business’.

22Children from the Eduard Kzartmyan music school in Vanadzor performed the Anthem of Europe, paving the way for guests Hayk Petrosyan and Masha Mnjoyan, whose music was greatly enjoyed by an audience that sang and danced along until the end.

 

Dilijan
The final stop of the week was Dilijan, on 14 May. This is the first time Dilijan has hosted Europe Day celebrations. Ambassador Świtalski and the Mayor of Dilijan, Armen Santrosyan first met with members of the Dilijan Euroclub. Despite the heavy rain, people still flocked to visit more than 15 booths on EU-funded projects, covering agriculture, business, civil society, education, human rights and innovation.

ARS_8789The Ambassador congratulated citizens of Dilijan for their first participation at Europe Day before the concert began: ‘I want to thank all our partners in this beautiful town for helping to organise this wonderful event. I am here with a large team from the EU Delegation, it is a pleasure for us to celebrate peace and unity with you. This year our celebrations are entitled ‘The European Union for Armenia’ – I am happy that the EU is sponsoring projects in Dilijan and in Tavush marz. I want to use this opportunity to let you know that we want to come more often and do bigger projects in Dilijan. There is no age discrimination, but we want to focus on young people. I want to thank all young people for coming and developing a good association with the EU. Enjoy the evening and remember that we are here for you and for the modernisation of Armenia’.

3Children from Dilijan music schools also performed the Anthem of Europe and passed the stage to Hayk Petorsyan and Masha Mnjoyan. The weather had cleared by the time the concert began so the audience were able to let loose!

ARS_2119On 7 April the EU Delegation to Armenia invited everyone to a cultural evening to celebrate Motherhood and Beauty Day within the framework of the global #BeBoldForChange campaign. The evening started with a photo exhibition by the EU-funded projects dedicated to women beneficiaries. Guests had a chance to learn about the projects being implemented in Armenia aimed at empowering women in all spheres and to vote for the best project. The Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, also attended. After poring over the photos, he gave his vote and was hurried to the stage to officially open the second part of the evening.

ARS_2262The Ambassador congratulated women: ‘7 April is a wonderful tradition, and we are happy that, on this particular day, we can present to you our activities and celebrate women empowerment’s together with all project stakeholders. For us, women’s day is not a single day in the year, we think about women and their role in society every day. We encourage the women of Armenia to take a more active role in politics, business. Let me be frank with you – we are not happy with the current situation. I counted the low number of women just elected to the National Assembly, and it makes me very unhappy. I hope that, during the next elections, the situation will change. The same refers to other spheres. We all speak about reforms in Armenia but let me speak plainly – Armenia will not progress without more women in positions of authority’.

ARS_2400Armenian singer Lilit Pipoyan performed a live concert for attendees, and the evening concluded with the announcement of the winner of the photo exhibition. The winner was the ENPARD technical assistance project: “Producer Group and Value Chain Development”. In the photo, Mrs. Anush, a member of the women’s agricultural cooperative of Gargar village (Lori Marz), is harvesting the first yield of fresh, healthy broccoli. The cooperative is involved in the primary production and sale of non-traditional, high-value vegetables. As an ENPARD beneficiary, the cooperative has been provided with broccoli seeds, cultivation tools and greenhouses and with practical training on vegetable cultivation and marketing.

On 9 May 1950 the first move towards the creation of what is now known as the European Union was made. 35 years later, it was decided to celebrate 9 May as Europe Day during the Milan Summit of EU leaders in 1985. Every country which democratically chooses to accede to the European Union endorses its fundamental values of peace and solidarity. Building on the tradition of the past five years, the European Union Delegation to Armenia has been organising Europe Day events to celebrate this day of peace and unity in Armenia.
Celebrations for Europe Day 2016 began four weeks ago. Representatives of the EU Delegation to Armenia has visited five Armenian marzes, held official meetings, and organised open air concerts.
ARS_6813On 5 June 2016, the celebrations concluded in the capital, Yerevan. This festive day started with a unique lunch – Armenian youth was invited to meet and question the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, and EU member state ambassadors to Armenia and other EU officials. More than 100 young Armenians engaged in free discussion and asked questions on political, economic, cultural, social and migration-related topics. They enjoyed the barbecue menu, which included specialties from various European countries. The opening speech was the only formal part of the meeting, during which Ambassador Świtalski praised the gathering, saying it constituted the strong European family and showed Europe’s transparency and willingness to engage in dialogue.
13346835_1035811306472798_8887167691014478623_nAfter the lunch, all the ambassadors and participants walked to the opening of the Europe Day Information Fair on Northern Avenue. The fair showcased current EU-funded projects, with a special emphasis on information and activities for young Armenians. Ambassador Świtalski opened the event: ‘Today is the culmination of Europe Day celebrations, which we started in Vanadzor, then continued in Gyumri, Gavar, Kapan, and Goris. This information fair is about providing possibilities to learn more about the projects and activities of the EU and its member states here in Armenia. There are 41 stands, where different projects are presented. The EU is the biggest donor to Armenia; every year we spend about €50 million. As you will see by visiting the stands, the spectrum of our activities is very broad. We build roads, improve solid waste management, clean water, implement agricultural projects, support SMEs, help CSOs, develop good laws, etc. However, we are not simply a charity which gives money; we are instead a friendly partner, helping Armenia to modernise itself, develop the right policies, and support government and society to build a better future. This year’s focus is youth – the future of Armenia. We want them to have quality education and good jobs, we want to help them to fulfil their aspirations and find a better future here, not abroad. You can count on us’.
ARS_7588After walking around the fair and visiting all the project stands, people went to Freedom Square to witness the start of the open air concert. The crowd was excited to meet Ambassador Świtalski, who opened the concert and awarded prizes to the winners of the special EU quiz in addition to the essay and video competitions “Europe4Youth, Youth4Europe”, before passing the floor to the Armenian artists.
IMG_2266Yet, the biggest surprise was a special guest star from Spain – Lara Taylor. Lara Taylor is a pop singer who is notable for her unique style, combining the musical genres of electro, mainstream pop, and dubstep. Taylor has won many vocalist and music awards, performed with notable artists such as Nelly Furtado, Pitbull, Avicii, and more. She was accompanied by the popular Spanish DJ Manuel Galey. In an interview, Lara told us how excited she was for having been invited to perform: ‘The concert was just amazing, people here are so warm, full of love, energy, and emotions. I was so surprised to see posters with my name in the crowd because I had no idea I had Armenian fans! I have toured in many countries, but have never visited this region before. I’ll bring all the smiles with me to Spain and will come back here for sure. When my manager told me that I was flying to Yerevan for a concert, I thought he was joking, but I am so happy that I visited this beautiful country’.
The EU Delegation to Armenia has promised to surprise Armenian audiences with new ideas and new events for upcoming Europe Day celebrations.

More than 500 pupils from music schools in Gyumri, Vanadzor, Ashtarak, Abovyan, Sevan, Artashat and Yerevan were invited to a Europe Day classical concert with the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra. When the children arrived to Aram Khachatryan Concert Hall in Yerevan on 4th June, they were greeted by Ambassador Świtalski with whom they could celebrate their common love for music at the concert. . Representatives of the Armenian government, EU member states’ Ambassadors and representatives from international organisations also attended the concert.
13310333_1035358556518073_7966482787202323642_nAmbassador Świtalski opened the concert by introducing the vision of the EU: ‘66 years ago a great politician, Robert Schuman, had a vision, a vision of peaceful, prosperous, free and just Europe. We celebrate this day to commemorate the man and his vision, and we want to celebrate it together with the Armenian people. The celebrations of Europe Day have now culminated in Yerevan this weekend after five concerts in the marzes. This year we celebrate Europe Day in Armenia under the slogan of “Europe for Youth”. I am happy to have children from all over Armenia with us today – tonight they are our guests of honour. This evening is special because young talented Armenians will play European music. Isn’t this a great match?’
Music school pupils Sofia Vardanyan (violin), Diana Adamyan (violin), and Harutyun Melikyan (piano) performed during the concert together with their elder counterparts and all three pupils also played solo pieces.

Europe Day Celebrations in Armenia became an established tradition. Every year Armenians have had an opportunity to learn more about the EU-funded projects implemented in Armenia, take part in the events oraganised within the framework of the Europe Day Information Week, as well as familiarise with the European culture. Sunday, 24 May – the closing day of the information week – was full of events, fun and surprises.
Young people had a great opportunity to meet, ask and discuss questions with the European Ambassadors! Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from the EU Member States as well as the Head of the EU Delegation to 10568889_848486015205329_1331932510936320309_nArmenia Traian Hristea took part in the “Lunch with Ambassadors”.
The lunch was organised in a non-formal setting to ensure a friendly atmosphere and an active participation. During the lunch, participants walked around freely and interacted with the ambassadors, discussing matters they were interested in. The lunch area was decorated in accordance with member states’ culture and cuisine.
Ambassador Hristea made an opening of the event and later all the Ambassadors introduced themselves. “It is more informal event that leads us to the opening of the Information Fair which is continuation of our events dedicated to the Europe Day in Armenia. I would like to underline that this very informal event and you will have an opportunity to engage freely with each of us individually or in groups, as well as try some goods from our countries’ national cuisines”.
One of the participants of the lunch was Drnoyan Alexander who studied in Germany and now is back to Armenia. “I was very interested in this event because this is a unique opportunity. I did not have a chance like this before to meet Ambassadors, ask questions and learn about their rich experience. This is also a good opportunity to talk about cultures, find some similar things and learn about the differences. I think this meeting is a precious gift to all Armenian young people.
10460276_848523265201604_7049024719980838381_nAfter the meeting all the participants were invited to the Northern Avenue, where the Info Fair opening was assigned. The Information Fair was designed to host all the current EU projects to inform Armenian public of their existence, the work they have done over the years and the results these projects have produced. During the opening Ambassador Traian Hristea had his welcome speech. “Welcome to the Info Fair dedicated to EU-Armenia cooperation. On 9 May 1950 Robert Schuman called for peace and unity in Europe. Europe Day is an anniversary of Schuman’s declaration and to show how we overcome all the differences to shape our common future as well as to show our cooperation with 11264898_848522931868304_3918429605861575773_nour neighbours. This year’s celebrations are dedicated to the year of development. The Eastern Partnership summit in Riga just finished confirming once again that there is continuous interest in strong partnership with our neighbours and demonstrating our commitment to support them and their efforts towards achieving lasting peace, stability and increasing prosperity”.
1908129_848757995178131_7123434798347850042_nThe conclusion of the Info Fair took the form of a big at the Freedom Square with many artists participating both from Armenia and Europe. The EU Ambassador Train Hristea wished everybody to enjoy the concert. VJ Zyper who arrived in Armenia from France to join the celebrations of the Europe Day also took part in the concert. After his performance we had an interview and asked him about his impressions. “These people are amazing. You know I am from France, we have many big clubs, have big parties, festivals but it is nothing compared to this live concert, which is a real pleasure, real people, here you can see 100% of love, 100% of fun and this is everything. Whenever you want I will come back!”
10440994_848758505178080_8994825076634540529_nAnd all the people were waiting for the special guest of the concert – Danzel! “I had so many shows in Russia, in Kazakhstan and all over the world but this is my first time in Armenia. People here are very open, very warm and I would love to come back. The audience was great, full of energy, people were partying. My song “Pump it” was also a big hit here and everybody was singing with me. I am from Belgium and all of you are Armenians; I think it is good initiative to bring people together” – told us Danzel.
That is it for this year. See you next time on the occasion of an EU – Armenia cooperation event.