Tag Archives: democracy

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’.

The EU and the Council of Europe (CoE) have agreed to implement targeted cooperation activities in Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine). The idea is to bring them closer to the European standards of human rights, democracy and rule of law. From 2015-2017 projects will be implemented under the programmatic cooperation framework (PCF). Within the framework of this cooperation, 4 country-specific projects for Armenia have started, all co-financed by the European Union. Press conference on the details of the cooperation framework took place on 1 October 2015.
IMG_7349The Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian, underlined the EU’s commitment to supporting Armenia in justice, human rights, and other areas: ‘The EU stands by Armenian citizens by improving society and their livelihoods. We are talking about very important projects in the regional framework – there are so many fields on which we are working together with the CoE, and 4 in particular in Armenia. To have a successful project you need to have financial and technical support, and this is what we are providing. On the other hand, for successful results we need to have an active civil society. This is why the EU always stands next to Armenian civil society organisations’.
The Head of the CoE Office in Yerevan, Natalia Voutova, opened the press conference by describing the details of the cooperation framework: ‘The main objectives of our cooperation with the EU are to bring all EaP countries closer to European standards. The implementation priorities of the projects in each country are specific and are based on action plans. For the CoE, priorities are based on the CoE action plan for Armenia which will run until 2017. In this context, the CoE is the implementing organisation of the programmatic cooperation framework. We have started all four projects in Armenia, and they are coordinated in close cooperation with the Armenian government, authorities and stakeholders’.
Paruyr Hovhannisyan, Head of the European Department of the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, mentioned that democracy, human rights, and rule of law are values Armenia shares with the EU and the CoE. He went on to stress that progress on achieving these aims would only happen with good cooperation between partners.
The country-specific projects for Armenia that are being implemented are:
• 1. Strengthening healthcare and human rights protection in prisons in Armenia
This project will assess the needs of prison healthcare in Armenia, revise legislation, procure medical equipment for 11 healthcare units, and provide training on medical ethics and health promotion. The project started in March 2015 and will end in February 2017. The overall budget is €900,000.
• 2. Supporting criminal justice reform and combating ill-treatment and impunity in Armenia
This project will strengthen institutional mechanisms, legislation, and train prosecutors and investigators to combat ill-treatment and impunity in the criminal justice system. The project will be implemented between July 2015 to July 2017. The overall budget is €500,000.
• 3. Strengthening integrity and combating corruption in higher education in Armenia
This project will promote legal mechanisms for ensuring integrity and fighting corruption, as well as provide training courses, and introduce model codes of ethics for educators and students. The project timeframe is January 2015 to December 2016. The overall budget is €400,000.
• 4. Long-term electoral assistance to the election related stakeholders of Armenia:
The project aims to improve legislation, train electoral body staff and judges, and strengthen mechanisms for settling electoral disputes. The project started in January 2015 and will run to December 2017. The overall budget is €95,000.
Arkadi Sytine, PCF coordinator, made a presentation about the ongoing projects and described all of the details of the framework.