Tag Archives: cooperation

The ‎EU4BUSINESS‬ Week kicked off on Monday 22 February. The week was full of events organised by the EU Delegation to Armenia and its partners. Each day expert presentations, round tables, or discussions were held with international experts and members of the business community.
During the EU4BUSINESS week, the “SME Policy Index: Eastern Partner Countries 2016” was presented. The project co-funded by the EU, OECD, ETF and EBRD, was introduced by the EU Ambassador, and the Armenian First Deputy Minister of Economy, on 23 February 2016.
ARS_6494The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Świtalski, underlined that, for the EU in Armenia, the main priority is to support private business: ‘Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are considered by us to potentially be the main engine for growth in Armenia and, at the same time, one of the main untapped potentials in Armenia. If you consider the level of entrepreneurship among Armenians, their intellectual capacity and creativity, and their involvement in SMEs – a lot of benefits can be brought to Armenia’s economy. These are difficult times in Armenia – there are many challenges to economic development. Therefore, it is strategically important that the EU works together with the Armenian government and other international organisations to support the development of SMEs. This index will act as a point of reference for the government to check whether the direction in which the country is going is right. We know that Armenia has made good progress in many areas. The other issue is whether this progress is meeting the expectations of Armenian people, in particular businessmen. Indeed, there is a perception gap: indexes are good as they show a good picture, but when you go and ask people, in particular young people who want to start new business, they say it could be better. I would agree. Therefore, lots still needs to be done. I am sure that together we can make progress, because the international community and organisations have a clear interest in a positive SME index for Armenia. Why is that? Well, when the foreign investors see that the SME index looks secure, they will feel more comfortable investing’.
ARS_6455During the event, the Armenian Deputy Minister of Economy, Garegin Melkonyan presented the SME policy index and its importance for Armenia: ‘The assessment monitors implementation progress for ten principles of the Small Business Act (SBA) for Europe, and measures convergence towards EU practices and standards. The SBA principles are designed to create a level-playing field for SMEs and to foster entrepreneurship and competitiveness. The SBA assessment provides policy makers with a detailed overview of SME policy performance and recommends improvements within each policy area. Moreover, it identifies strengths and weaknesses in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and support programmes, while comparing country progress with previous assessments. The 2016 assessment reveals significant, albeit uneven, progress. There are many directions and suggestions that should be implemented in Armenia, including SME development, which is key to strengthening economic competitiveness in Armenia. There are also strong and weak sides of SMEs in Armenia, which should be taken into consideration’.
After the opening remarks, Daniel Quadbeck, the Project Manager, introduced the SBA results for Eastern Partner countries, presented key messages of the assessment, and made suggestions for the future.

The EU received 40 project proposals following its Armenia-Georgia call for proposals for joint cross-border projects. 8 winners were announced and signed grant contracts for implementing joint cross-border projects on 25 September 2015.
The winning projects are aimed at finding joint solutions to common social and economic development challenges in the border regions of Armenia and Georgia. These challenges include economic development, in particular attracting investment to Kvemo Kartli in Georgia and Tavush in Armenia, energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, improvement of solid waste management, development of innovative cross-border tourist routes, and natural resource conservation in Samstkhe-Javakheti in Georgia and Shirak in Armenia. Additionally, specific focus has been paid to youth issues: civic education, youth employment and strengthening relations among teenagers from Gyumri in Armenia and Bolnisi in Georgia.
The EU has allocated €1.35 million to Armenia-Georgia territorial cooperation. Among the winners, four grant contracts were awarded each to Georgian and Armenian development partners for cross-border regional development.
ARS_8808The Representative of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Monika Papyan, spoke about the difficulty of the grants process: ‘I want to congratulate all the participants and winners of the programme. I remember when in the beginning when we were thinking about whether the project would be successful or not. Now we see that all the effort was worth it. I know how difficult the programme was for all the applicants, because the EU’s requirements are very high – it was not easy for all the applicants in the beginning, especially for the winners’.
On 23-24 September introductory training was provided to the successful applicants. The trainees learned practical tips for grant contracts and project implementation methodology, financial and procurement rules, visibility and communication issues, and reporting and monitoring requirements, as well as specific the national requirements of the two countries. Grantees enjoyed individual consultations on grant-management issues.
Vache Terteryan, the Armenian First Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Emergency Situations, expressed his support for the grants process: ‘This project has a history – we worked together with our colleagues from Georgia, as well as people form the regions where we are going to implement the projects. After the signing ceremony, the start of the projects will be announced and I have no doubt that all of them will be successful. We hope that we will have other similiar projects beacuse these kind of projects are the best way to integrate into the European family’.
ARS_8949The Armenia-Georgia territorial cooperation programme has been the first of four programmes in the Eastern Partnership to launch a grants competition and identify winning projects.
The goal of the Eastern Partnership territorial cooperation programme is to create a favourable environment for territorial cooperation along the borders of Moldova-Ukraine, Armenia-Georgia, Azerbaijan-Georgia and Belarus-Ukraine with due regard to the specifics of each border area.

The European Union (EU) has been celebrating Europe Day within its borders for the last 65 years. It all began on 9 May 1950, when Robert Schuman called for the unification of Europe to make war on the continent impossible and spread peace and prosperity globally. During these 65 years, the EU has known the most prosperous, united and peaceful period in its history.
Armenia joins in the Europe Day celebrations every year – this year is a no exception. Europe Day celebrations include various informative events that showcase EU-Armenia close cooperation and partnership, as well as European cultural diversity. The decision was made to start the celebrations in Armenia not in the capital, but in the regions, and then bring them to Yerevan. The festivities began on 16 May in Vanadzor (the third largest city in Armenia). In the morning Vanadzor hosted Italian artist Fabio Zanino, who gave a masterclass, on creation of art from waste materials and rubbish. Vanadzor residents were surprised by this approach, stating that they had not had such an experience before.
10406696_845271502193447_2725293204125903595_nTraian Hristea, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, which is organising the events, and other ambassadors of EU Member States arrived in Vanadzor to join in the celebrations. Ambassador Hristea’s welcome speech opened the information fair on EU-funded projects being implemented in Armenia: ‘Over the years, Europe Day has become a symbol of peace, unity and the European values that we all share. We are devoted to supporting our neighbours in their efforts to enhance the stability and the prosperity in their region. This year the celebrations are dedicated to the European year for development. The motto of this year is “our world, our dignity, our future”. This is a great opportunity to talk about EU-Armenia cooperation and partnership. The Eastern Partnership summit in Riga that will take place in only in few days, on 21-22 May, should further confirm our continuous interest in a strong partnership with our neighbours and to demonstrate our commitment to supporting them in their efforts towards achieving lasting peace, political stability and increased prosperity’.
11221361_845269475526983_1959337283288225741_nDuring the information fair, Hristea, along with his colleagues, went through the programmes and talked to the representatives of the implementing organisations. Later, he attended the opening ceremony of a photo-exhibition by documentary photographer Maciek Nabrdalik. The latter had been invited to Armenia to give masterclasses to Armenian photographers and improve their skills. The results of these workshops were printed and exhibited.
11268969_845332892187308_2348483859051012507_nYet another event was held in Vanadzor on the central square – a concert dedicated to Europe Day that was widely attended and enjoyed by local residents.
The baton of Europe Day celebrations was passed from Vanadzor to Gyumri on 17 May. The morning started with the art, colours and creativity of Fabio Zanino’s masterclass with participants from Gyumri. Another information fair was opened by Ambassador Hristea, at which EU ambassadors, the Mayor of Gyumri and other officials were present: ‘The European Union and Armenia have committed to further developing and strengthening their bilateral relations in cooperation, to develop their cooperation in areas like human rights and democracy, education, culture, poverty reduction, justice reforms, migration, agriculture, trade, and others. This cooperation and assistance is substantial – we are investing €45 million almost every year in activities which benefit Armenian citizens. Here at the information fair you can see just the tip of the iceberg of our cooperation with Armenia’.
1520633_845797812140816_3210661893546777311_nCultural events marking the Europe Day in Gyumri continued with the “100 portraits” exhibition at “Still” Museum of Fine Arts. After the exhibition, all the participants gathered on the central square to have fun and celebrate Europe Day together. The residents of Gyumri found the day unique, as the weather held and had resisted its seasonal characteristic of heavy rain – the atmosphere had been so warm that even the sky had not wanted to interrupt people dancing in the square.

Prevention, preparedness and response to natural and man-made disasters (PPRD) in the EaP countries- PPRD East 2 national advisory group meeting took place on 21 April 2015. The PPRD East 2 Programme is an EU-funded regional initiative with € 5.5 million budget. The project is aimed at increasing disaster risk management capacities of Eastern partnership societies and improving protection of populations from the negative consequences of man-made and disasters caused by natural hazards.
2Z4A9680Head of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian, talked about improvements of the risk management. “We are here today to ensure that Armenian people, who have been through so many crises for centuries, are prepared when they face different types of risk. The EU is very proud to support this project. For us, risk preparedness and preparedness for unpredictable situations is a key to ensure the growth of Armenia, and be sure that Armenian citizens live in a peaceful place”.
As a regional project it includes Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Ukraine. The second phase of the project – December 2014/ November 2018 – is built on the achievements of Phase 1, focusing its efforts on:
• approximation to the EU legislation and disaster risk management good practices such as EU Floods Directive and EU Civil Protection policies;
• strengthening civil protection capacities of Partner countries through joint trainings and exercises,
• further development and practical use of the electronic regional risk atlas,
• raising awareness about disasters;
• establishing better cooperation with the EU Civil protection mechanism and its participating states.
PPRD East 2 will work at regional and national level. At regional level, PPRD East 2 will promote the EU approaches to disaster risk management and civil protection good practices including tools and methods for building a regional capability for responding to disaster. Activities at national level will be demand-driven and will reflect national disaster risk management priorities and civil protection policy. In particular, they will focus on approximation of the Partner countries’ legal and institutional frameworks to relevant EU legislation, policies and good practices in the relevant fields.

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.

Traian Hristea, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, delivered a lecture at the American University of Armenia (AUA) on 27 March 2015. The lecture was organised within the framework of the “Ambassadorial lecture series” with the EU member-states Ambassadors and the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia. These lectures are organised by Dr. Syuzanna Vasilyan, the Chair in Armenia of the Jean Monnet sub-programme in the framework of the EU-funded “Lifelong Learning” programme. The lecture was intended to representatives of the academia, civil society and students.
Ambassador Hristea started his lecture with underlining that the European Union is destined to be a key partner for all countries in their neighbourhood, while defending their right to choose independently their own way forward of sovereign development. “The European Neighbourhood Policy was created to build new partnerships with the EU’s direct neighbours, based on shared values, stability and prosperity. Those fundamental objectives remain as valid today as they were when the ENP was launched more than ten years ago; indeed, they are now more important than ever.
ARS_5449The situation in Europe’s neighbourhood has changed dramatically since the ENP has been in place. Growing challenges to a number of Eastern Partnership countries, from the crisis in Georgia in 2008 to the on-going conflict in Ukraine”.
The ambassador touched also upon important subjects like the crises in Syria and Libya, the complex transition in Egypt and the war that is unfolding in Yemen. As to the EU-Armenia relations the Head of the EU Delegation emphasised that Armenian government and the EU institutions are cooperating together quite well and the input from the civil society will be an invaluable contribution to the ENP review and to the implementation and future development of the Eastern Partnership within a reviewed ENP. He added that the EU would like to continue to strengthen the cooperation with Armenia. EU has been exploring with Armenia the possible scope of future bilateral cooperation bearing in mind Armenia’s other international commitments. EU is prepared to further support Armenia in areas such as good governance, human rights, fighting corruption, reforming the judiciary, implementation of the mobility partnership and the visa facilitation and readmission agreements in force with the EU. The EU will continue supporting the country’s modernisation efforts and will continue encouraging necessary reforms in Armenia.
The EU will also continue to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) Development in Armenia, human rights protection, reforms in electoral system, torture prevention, provide greater protection against discrimination of persons belonging to minorities, people with disabilities and to other vulnerable groups, develop effective gender equality mechanisms and protection of victims of domestic/gender-based violence, and improve child protection system.
“So, in the new ENP the messages will probably remain the same: but we should seek new ways to deliver our messages, and to be heard. We are looking for concrete ideas that will deliver results in the short to medium term, and ones the public can understand. And here we see a crucial role for you, students, representatives of the civil society and academia, in giving this review visibility on the ground in your country and in ensuring that your views on the ENP are fed back to us,”- stated Ambassador.

The 15th session of the EU-Armenia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee (PCC) took place on 19-20 March 2015 at the Armenian National Assembly. It was presided over by EU PCC co-chairs Samvel Farmanyan and Sajjad Karim. During the session, EU-Armenia further cooperation was discussed by both Armenian and European representatives.
The President of the Armenian National Assembly, Galust Sahakyan, greeted participants: ‘This week we had an opportunity to work together within the scope of the EuroNest Parliamentary Assembly’s fourth ordinary session. This was a very important platform for the EU and Eastern Partnership programme expansion. Here we can now work from the perspective of an interparliamentary cooperation platform. The EU has been and still is one of the most important partners of Armenia – EU-Armenia cooperation is based on common shared values, and all-European values are the core of this cooperation’.
ARS_5178Adriano Martins, the Deputy Head of Division of the European External Action Service, spoke on the European Union’s position as Armenia’s largest foreign trade partner: ‘EU-Armenia cooperation is continuing, based on partnership and cooperation agreements. The EU is willing to deepen this cooperation and is identifying areas of common interest. Cooperation will focus on economic development, energy, migration, mobility, security, transparency, and management. We will try to make policies more targeted and effective’.
Garen Nazarian, the Armenian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, talked about the Armenian government’s position on EU-Armenia relations: ‘Armenia is ready to deepen cooperation with the EU, with an aim to continue reforms to democratic institutions and the judicial system, protecting human rights and fighting against corruption. Armenia and the European Union agreed on the necessity of forming a legal basis for their relations and updating the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan’.

The official launch event of the “Single Cross-border Visitor package” (SCBV), developed within the framework of the programme called “Promoting Innovative Rural Tourism” (PIRT) took place on 19 March 2015. PIRT is a regional project aimed at supporting regional cooperation and cross-border partnerships for economic and social development in four Black Sea Basin countries via the promotion of rural tourism.
The project is funded by the European Union and is being implemented by Heifer Armenia (as lead organisation) with partners from Bulgaria (Varna Economic Development Agency), Georgia (Heifer Georgia) and Turkey (Gumushane National Educational Directorate).
A unique tourist package has been developed as part of the project including up to ten rural tourism-related itineraries. Tourist agencies in Armenia, Georgia, Turkey and Bulgaria will have the opportunity to sell this new product. Tourists buying SCBV will be able to travel through all four countries with the one package. SCBV will increase the visitor flows on the regional level and contribute to unprecedented cooperation between national authorities in the region and intra-country, aimed ultimately at sustaining the cross-border impacts of rural tourism. Anahit Ghazanchyan, PIRT Project Coordinator, introduced the details of the project, and presented the website and short films advertising the package.
Traian Hristea, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, confirmed the EU’s willingness to support Armenia in its development: ‘I am delighted that the activities of this project will result in stronger regional partnerships and cooperation through integrated utilisation of physical and human resources, and the exchange of best practices aimed at enhancing the standards of touristic products and service delivery. All this will contribute to the economic and social development of the Black Sea Basin region, which is a key objective of the EU’s European Neighbourhood Instrument’.
Armen Harutyunyan, Armenian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, mentioned in his speech that many efforts had been made to ensure the project’s success: ‘This project targets not only the development of tourism but also regional relations with our counterparts. Our region is unique – Armenia is unique in terms of its rich heritage, history, and culture – and we have to demonstrate this to the whole world. These kinds of undertakings allow us to showcase the many advantages Armenia possesses’.
Partners and guests from Bulgaria, Georgia and Turkey participated in the event, which was flavoured with regional folk music, as well as displays of national and traditional products and art. Representatives from Armenian ministries, partner governments, foreign missions and embassies, and international and local partner organisations were also invited.
PIRT is co-financed by the European Union through €473,000 in assistance from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. The programme started in November 2013, and is projected to last for 18 months. It will establish cooperation among Black Sea Basin region countries (Armenia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Georgia). Rural tourism is a particular focus – joint efforts of all the parties are promoting initiatives to exploit common, traditional and innovative tourism opportunities.
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Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, and the Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edvard Nalbandyan, held the joint press conference in Yerevan on 18 March 2015.
The two officials spoke to journalists about further EU-Armenia cooperation and then answered questions. ‘The EU and Armenia have successfully completed joint discussions on future cooperation frameworks and outlined possible ways forward. I hope that we can use these discussions as a basis, from which we can launch negotiations on a new agreement,’ stated Hahn.
Nalbandyan talked about Armenia’s approach: ‘The consultations, held between Armenia and the European Union, will outline the legal basis that in turn will be formed as a result of negotiations. Negotiations will resume, as soon as the European Union gives appropriate mandate to its team to negotiate. I think that there are prerequisites for the mandate to be given soon. In the results of negotiations we would draft the document – the new legal basis for Armenia-European Union relations. ’.
ARS_4804Commissioner Hahn again stressed the EU’s support: ‘Today we had a very comprehensive discussion touching a wide range of issues on EU-Armenia relations. Armenia can expect the EU’s further support to strengthen political and social reforms, to implement visa facilitation and the readmission agreement, and to enhance human rights and fundamental freedoms’.
Earlier on the same day, Hahn had met with the Armenian President and made a speech during the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly’s fourth ordinary session emphasising on working together to make partnerships between countries more effective.

A meeting between Wilhelm Molterer, Vice President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), and Hovik Abrahamyan, the Armenian Prime Minister, took place on 16 March 2015 at the Prime Minister’s office.
ARS_4046The meeting was in the presence of Ambassador Traian Hristea, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia.
The meeting was followed by a signing ceremony of 3 agreements between Armenia and the EU First of them was the €10 million loan agreement for the “Caucasus Electricity Transmission Network” project, which was signed by Molterer and Gagik Khachatryan, the Armenian Minister of Finance, followed by a memorandum of understanding signed by Molterer, Ambassador Hristea, Yervand Zakharyan, the Armenian Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Jan Blum, the Director of the Department of Energy and Transport at KfW German Development Bank. The final document signed was a contribution agreement on Armenia’s membership in the “Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership Fund” (“E5P”). This was signed by Andres Land, Director of E5P at EIB, and Minister Zakharyan.
ARS_4181A press conference was held after the official signing ceremony with the participation of Ambassador Hristea, Zakharyan, Molterer, and Blum. Zakharyan and Molterer introduced the agreement for the “Caucasus Electricity Transmission Network” project. The EIB is lending €10 million to finance the construction of an electricity transmission line and a high-voltage direct current station to develop a link between Armenia and Georgia. This new electricity infrastructure will deepen regional integration by facilitating energy trade between the two countries, and provide Armenia and Georgia with better access to European electricity markets.
The project consists of the construction of a new back-to-back station in Ayrum (Armenia), close to the Georgian border, and a power transmission line linking the two countries. It is designed to provide secure and economically efficient coverage for growing electricity demand.
ARS_4385The project is also being supported by a €85.2 million loan from lead financier KfW German Development Bank, on behalf of the German government, a €10 million grant from the EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF), and the Armenian (€1.5 million) and Georgian (€6.6 million) governments.
Zakharyan stressed the importance of the signed documents: ‘Three important documents concerning the energy sector were signed, aimed at developing infrastructure in the energy sector and increasing energy efficiency. The Armenia-Georgia high-voltage transmission line will contribute to the interconnectivity between the two countries’ networks, as well as parallel operation with and integration into regional energy grades, which will facilitate economic development for both Georgia and Armenia. The third document is Armenia’s membership in the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership Fund, which allows additional funding for energy efficiency in the forms of soft loans and grants. This will be channelled to energy-efficiency improvement in the communities of Armenia and elsewhere. The documents signed today are extremely important for the Republic of Armenia’.
Mr Molterer also talked about the signed documents: ‘This is a really very important step, because it marks an important linkage between Armenia and Georgia, improving the capacity for positive regional development. It is important because energy efficiency is one of the priorities of the Government of Armenia, and we are more than happy to support this priority. Additionally, this is important because it shows what the EU can offer to countries like Armenia, because the joint initiative between the EIB and the European Commission is a real value of what we can provide. It shows the ability, the readiness and the capacity of international financial institutions to cooperate’.
Ambassador Hristea stated that the EU was one of the first international financial institutions, which supported the energy sector in Armenia in 1996: ‘This is an important day for EU-Armenia cooperation and an excellent occasion for the EU to reaffirm its commitment to supporting the Armenian energy sector and reforms. Energy efficiency and renewable energy are very important for the EU’s development activities in Armenia and it shows the EU’s willingness, as well as its support to Armenian citizens and authorities, to ensure their energy security and their energy independence’.
DAV_1336Earlier on the same day Serzh Sargsyan, the President of Armenia, met with Molterer and Ambassador Hristea. President Sargsyan expressed the hope that Molterer’s visit would give a new impetus to Armenia’s cooperation with the EIB, which is directed at ensuring stable economic growth in Armenia. Sargsyan praised the bank’s mission and current activities in Armenia, expressing satisfaction with the active and effective cooperation with the EIB. He also stressed that, taking into account the economic importance of the sectors financed by the bank and its current portfolio, EIB was as a strategic partner for Armenia. Molterer too expressed satisfaction with the bank’s cooperation with Armenia since 2007, emphasising that it set a good example for other working partners.