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On 5 December the Young Experts Scheme Armenia (YES) project officially began. 21 young professionals aged 25-35 have been selected from more than 300 candidates to be enrolled in a one-year project. Almost half of the selected experts are from the Armenian Diaspora, who will bring their skills and expertise.
YES Armenia offers a unique opportunity for young professionals to contribute to Armenia’s development by bringing new dynamics, energy and modernisation to the civil service. Young professionals will work on specific government priority projects for 12 months. The projects are diverse, such as new governance models in education, tourism development, operationalisation of the National Digital Transformation Agenda, and public-private partnership (PPP) promotion. YES Armenia is funded by the EU and implemented by the Development and Strategic Studies project, in partnership with the Centre for Strategic Initiatives (CSI).

ARS_9887The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, wished participants success: ‘There are three beautiful things about this project. Firstly, it is about the young generation. Armenia can be proud of the richness its youth; I believe that these young people can bring something new to Government, as well as aspiration and hope. Indeed, changing this country is about their future. Secondly, this project is a bridge between Armenians from here and the Diaspora. Half of the participants have returned to Armenia – they have acquired education in the best universities in Europe, and here will have the opportunity to spread their wings and fulfil their inspirations. Thirdly, this project is about reform. Armenian is now undergoing challenging reforms. The acronym of the project is very inspiring: YES. This exudes positive energy, something Armenia needs. 12 months is a short period of time, so don’t waste your time. If you succeed, we will continue to support this type of initiative’.

ARS_9837Armenia’s Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan congratulated both the organisers and selected participants: ‘It is inspiring that 21 young Armenian people are being involved in public administration through this project. I hope you will justify our and your expectations. YES Armenia is a good example of the cooperation between Armenia and the European Union. It includes a number of important priorities: involving young people in reforms to public administration; engaging young talent from the Diaspora; combining state and international partners’ efforts in areas of mutual interest. The project is the first attempt in this format with the EU partners – I hope that we will be successful and allow it to become long term’.

A high-level conference was held on 26-27 October, 2016 in Yerevan to celebrate 20 years of local government in Armenia. Representatives of central, regional and local authorities from across the Eastern Partnership (EaP) gathered in Armenia’s capital to launch new EU support initiatives for local sustainable development and economic growth in EaP.
The EU has officially launched the new “Mayors for Economic Growth initiative” (M4EG) and the second phase of the Covenant of Mayors East (CoM East), which target business and energy efficiency respectively. These actions are aimed at fostering cooperation between local authorities and civil society organisations to enhance accountability, exchange good practices, and strengthen municipalities’ capacity to be efficient and effective administrators and promoters of local development. By encouraging public-private partnerships, these initiatives are also expected to contribute to the creation of new job opportunities at the local level and increase GDP per capita growth.
The event was organised by the European Commission, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of the Republic of Armenia, the Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP), and CoM East.
14522809_1141089429278318_1092564134457294953_nThe Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, addressed conference participants, stressing the importance of effective and accountable local governance : ‘The European Union realises that the capacity of local authorities to be effective development players depends on the existence of effective relations with other levels of governance and conducive national frameworks. Local authorities are important agents which should have their own development agendas coherent with national policies. Regional development is essential, because the gap between Yerevan and the regions is high. The EU is trying to help Armenia narrow this gap’.
Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Development Davit Lokyan echoed the Ambassador’s sentiment: ‘Strengthening local democracy will create such conditions that will ensure more active participation in the formation of local authorities. Our goal is to have more vibrant communities, large and financially stable communities, and transparent and fair management at the local level to ensure that people are able to solve vital issues in cooperation with local government’.
The conference also marked the signing ceremony of 25 new local authorities from EaP countries joining the new Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. On the second day of the conference discussions focused on the prospects and benefits of a new Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in EaP countries.

The European Union promotes secure, competitive, and sustainable energy in its member states. In 2015, the Framework Strategy for Energy Union was launched as one of the European Commission’s 10 Priorities. The aim of strategy is providing secure, sustainable, competitive, and affordable energy. The EU also supports the energy sector in its neighbourhood.
The EU supports many projects in Armenia to ensure its commitment to sustainable energy development and to boost the country’s potential for renewable energy and energy security. The EU, together with its partners and the Government of Armenia, has long supported a large number of reforms and projects. Their aim is to help Armenian communities to take steps to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs. The cooperation between the EU and Armenia aims to diversify energy resources in the country and make it less dependent on imported energy.
To highlight its strong partnership with Armenia in enhancing energy efficiency and renewable energy, the EU organised #EU4EnergyDays. From 26-29 September series of events were organised to highlight the impact of EU-funded renewable, alternative and sustainable energy programmes that contribute to policy development and best practice exchange in Armenia. All of the events held had different topics and were attended by a wide range of beneficiaries and stakeholders.

Energy efficiency in Armenia
The EU supports renewable energy, energy security and efficiency reforms in Armenia to benefit its citizens. A public discussion on ‘Residential energy efficiency in Armenia’ was the first the EU4Energy Day event. Discussions covered the Armenian government’s approach to residential energy efficiency and saving, and current challenges to residential investment. The event was organised as part of the EU-funded “Access to renewable and efficient energy in the municipalities of Vayk and Spitak” project. This project will implement energy-saving and -efficiency measures, such as upgrades and new insulation in roofs, doors, windows and building envelopes in 45 residential buildings – 27 in Spitak and 19 in Vayk, including the Vayk House of Culture. 145 photovoltaic solar panels will be installed to address lighting system upgrades for the entrances, staircases and courtyards of selected residential buildings.
img_0368The EU’s support also extends to businesses. In times of rising energy prices, efficiency is a priority. Energocredit, a programme of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development funded by the EU and the Austrian Ministry of Finance, helps individuals and businesses to find the right measures to reduce energy consumption and to finance energy efficient investment. An energy-efficiency forum was organised to discuss how to apply, how to benefit from and how to build more a sustainable, competitive economy in Armenia. Energocredit provides loans for companies to invest in efficient equipment in various sectors and industries such as agriculture, construction, production, transport, and many others supporting businesses to cut energy use and costs.
_mg_0444_1The Head of Cooperation section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian, attended the forum. He stressed EU support for energy efficiency: ‘Energy efficiency and renewable energy are crucial parts of the EU’s commitment to mitigate global warming. We believe that the Armenian government will launch incentives for energy-efficient investment and the EU will support the government and Armenian citizens to promote efficiency and independent use of alternative energy resources’.

Within the energy week a workshop was organised to review and discuss the current state and development trends of the national energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RES) policy in Armenia. Participants explored lessons learned, as well as the role of innovation in promoting EE/RES, and came up with policy recommendations to promote EU cooperation in this field. This event brought together research and industry representatives motivated to explore possible cooperation on innovation and technology transfer in EE/RES through the EU-funded Horizon 2020 programme.

Workshops and seminars on energy efficiency and alternative energy

A series of workshops and lectures were held in Yerevan to on how to use energy efficiently, and alternative energy and heating sources in Armenia.
img_9413American University in Armenia held a three-day workshop on rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems with Professor Peter Gevorkian, a leading expert in solar power generation and author of several technical books on the subject. The workshop was aimed at providing the technological know-how to build Armenia’s solar power-generation capacity, solar PV system design and construction, risk management, and economic assessment.
One more event, ‘Green talks’, focused on the benefits of PV panels and alternative energy. Two field experts gave presentations on how to produce solar energy efficiently. However, alternative energy comes not only from the PV panels. Another seminar, ‘How to save energy: farmers and producers’, investigated how biomass could be useful for rural communities in Armenia and how farmers could benefit.
img_1555Interested parties from Europe and Armenia gathered in Ashtarak to discuss how energy cooperatives could work in Armenia. The aim was to develop alternative, gender-sensitive, and feasible business models for renewable energy and energy efficiency, both technically and with regard to current legal and economic conditions.
This EU4Energy four-day initiative featured panel discussions to raise awareness on residential energy efficiency, to communicate the achievements of and prospects for municipal energy savings, to have in-depth discussions on energy-efficiency policies and financing opportunities for the business sector, and to hold energy talks with schoolchildren.

As part of a €10 million EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility contribution agreement signed between the EU and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) in 2015 for the “Caucasus Transmission Network, Stage 1” project, the Republic of Armenia and KfW have signed a financing and project implementing agreement on May 30 to channel the EU funding to the project. The agreement, signed on 30 May 2016 by the Armenian Minister of Finance, Gagik Khachatryan, the General Director of High Voltage Electric Networks CJSC, Aram Ananyan, and the Director of the KfW Caucasus Office, Lars Oermann, was also signed by the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, as witness.
The cost of Phase 1 of the project is estimated at €105.2 million. On top of the EU contribution, a non-refundable grant to this project, KfW has provided €85.2 million in loans: €75 million of its own resources and €10.2 million allocated by the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Investment Bank has also provided a loan of €10 million.
These contributions will finance the construction of a high-voltage, direct-current, back-to-back converter for a 500/400/220 kV substation in Ayrum; the construction and connection of transmission lines; consulting services; sector development and capacity-building measures. It is expected that the project will allow to improve the exchange of electricity with neighbouring Georgia and hopefully lower the price of electricity for Armenians.

The town of Vayk, together with Habitat for Humanity Armenia, celebrated the European Union’s Sustainable Energy Week on 19 June 2015. The celebration was organised within the framework of the EU-funded “Access to renewable and efficient energy in the municipalities of Vayk and Spitak” project to help the towns develop secure, clean and efficient energy. Spitak and Vayk support the EU’s goal of moving towards a low-carbon society, and have demonstrated this through the “Save energy” (in Spitak) and “Vayk chooses energy efficiency” (in Vayk) events.
The aim of the event in Vayk was to inform the town’s residents about best practices of using energy efficiency and renewable energy, and to build alliances to help the town successfully create sustainable energy action plans required under Vayk’s membership to the “Covenant of Mayors”. The Covenant of Mayors is a European cooperation movement involving local and regional authorities. Signatories voluntarily commit to increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources on their territories. The Mayor of Vayk signed the “Covenant of Mayors” in 2014.
0M8A8030Aragats Saghatelyan, Mayor of Vayk, introduced Vayk residents to what project implementation will bring to the town and thanked the EU for its support: ‘Within the scope of the project, energy saving and efficient measures will be implemented, such as upgrading and insulating roofs, doors and windows, as well as the building envelope in 18 residential buildings and the House of Culture. Our town started implementing the project with EU funding, and I want to thank the EU for its support and Habitat for Humanity for implementing the project’.
An exhibition of the products created by energy-efficency organisations was organised for Vayk residents to inform them about existing energy-efficent and energy-saving materials in the market (produced in Armenia or imported), as well as loan products aimed at energy-efficency and renewable-energy use offered by banks and financial institutions. The Executive Director 0M8A8037of the “Habitat for Humanity Armenia” Foundation, Louiza Vardanyan spoke to participating organisations and Vayk residents: ‘I am happy to see all of you here with us and I hope this meeting will be very efficient. This event is titled “Vayk chooses energy efficiency” and all of today’s actions are connected to energy. We have music – which is also energetic! Today we have also a drawing competition for students from Vayk, as well as quizzes and prizes for participants. We aim to raise awareness on the benefits of energy efficiency’.
During the event, residents and guests enjoyed music played by the “Miqayel Voskanyan and friends” band.

The implementation of the EU-funded project called “Access to renewable and efficient energy in the municipalities of Vayk and Spitak” began in March 2015. The aim of the project is to support the Spitak and Vayk municipalities develop and test replicable models to save energy through the use of efficient measures and renewable sources in residential and public buildings. These models will be incorporated into their sustainable energy action plans required under the Covenant of Mayors. The Covenant of Mayors is a European cooperation movement involving local and regional authorities. Signatories voluntarily commit to increasing energy efficiency and using of renewable energy sources on their territories.
A knowledge-sharing forum in the framework of the project was organised on 17 May by Habitat for Humanity Armenia foundation in cooperation with the Spitak municipality. The forum was also part of the Europe Day Information Week organised by the EU Delegation to Armenia. http://www.europeday.am/
Traian Hristea, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, together with Katie Leach, the Ambassador of the Great Britain to Armenia, and Hayk Harutyunyan, Armenian Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, participated in the forum. The forum was attended by over 100 participants, including the tenants of 27 multi-apartment residential buildings in Spitak, representatives from the Spitak municipality and the Covenant of Mayors, and project staff.
11262134_845585162162081_7120359772148454601_nIssues concerning energy efficiency in multi-apartment buildings and the importance of renewable energy were discussed during the forum. Presentations included topics such as energy efficiency and energy-saving good practices and behaviours, as well as suggestions and tips for low-cost energy-efficiency measures. Participants had the opportunity to share different issues regarding energy efficiency in their apartments.
Ambassador Hristea made a speech which stressed the importance of energy efficiency: ‘This project is an example, a demonstration of what possibilities there are and the potential of increased energy efficiency to benefit citizens. This project is meant to provide you with the possibility to make energy savings, which can be achieved by different options. The forum is a good opportunity to discuss all the issues that you might have’.
Deputy Minister Harutyunyan discussed the opportunities the project will offer to citizens: 11227036_845584948828769_9191768129053863264_n‘We want you to have energy to live a better life. This project is very praiseworthy when balanced against increasing energy prices. We are striving to import less energy and the only way to it is the development of renewable energy. However, first of all, we all should focus on energy efficiency as it is 4-5 times more affordable to save energy than to produce it. You will feel the positive impact on this project in your pockets. We hope Spitak and Vayk will become good models for other towns and cities in Armenia’.

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.

The Habitat for Humanity Armenia, in partnership with the Vayk and Spitak municipalities, began on 12 March 2015 the implementation of the EU-funded project called “Access to renewable and efficient energy in the municipalities of Vayk and Spitak”.
The aim of the project is to support the Spitak and Vayk municipalities by developing and testing replicable models to save energy through the use of efficient measures and renewable sources in residential and public buildings; these models will be incorporated into their sustainable energy action plans required under the Covenant of Mayors. The Covenant of Mayors is a European cooperation movement involving local and regional authorities. Signatories voluntarily commit to increasing energy efficiency and using of renewable energy sources on their territories. Yerevan joined the Covenant of Mayors in 2014.
H.E. Ambassador Traian Hristea, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, spoke about the Covenant of Mayors before moving on to the project: ‘This project has interesting characteristics and a confident approach; it uses various tools, from energy efficiency to renewable and complimentary sources of energy. It targets various members of the community to achieve results and objectives in the most attractive way. I am confident that, with the European Union’s support provided to the communities of Vayk and Spitak, this demonstration project will be a great opportunity for other municipalities and other cities to pave the way for sustainable development in energy action planning and the consequent implementation and promotion of energy efficiency and environmental development across all of Armenia’.
ARS_3304Hayk Harutyunyan, Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, also spoke at the opening ceremony of the project: ‘We are very happy that Vayk and Spitak also signed the Covenant of Mayors, and we hope that other cities will also join them. One day, all the cities will sign the Covenant. This project is very important for Armenian economic competitiveness and sustainable development. We have many state programmes and strategies for economic development, but, without this kind of municipal project, we will not be able to realise them’.
Energy-saving and -efficiency measures will be implemented within the framework of the project, such as upgrades and new insulation of roofs, doors, windows and building envelopes in 45 residential buildings – 27 in Spitak and 18 in Vayk and the Vayk House of Culture. 145 photovoltaic solar panels will be installed to address lighting system upgrades for the entrances, staircases and courtyards of selected residential buildings.
The total budget of the project called “Access to renewable and efficient energy in the municipalities of Vayk and Spitak” is € 1,700,000. The EU’s contribution is € 1,350,000.

On 26 February 2015 the Armenia-wide housing finance programme for energy-efficient renovation, “Jerm Ojakh”, began in Yerevan with a launch event.
This programme was developed within the framework of the “Social Housing Energy Efficiency Financing” programme, with a purpose to enable low- and middle-income households to renovate their buildings, improve living conditions and quality of life, reduce residential energy expenses, and promote the development of energy-efficient housing in towns and villages in Armenia. Jerm Ojakh is being implemented across Armenia by the National Mortgage Company, with financial support from the Agence Française de Développement. The technical assistance component is being funded by the EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility.
ARS_2235The Representative of the Agence Française de Développement, Bertrand Nora, stated that this is not their first programme in Armenia, and that there were also several ongoing projects in other sectors: ‘We are working in several countries in the world, one of which is Armenia. I am very happy to see that lot of things are improving. Our mandate in this country is the same as in this region, which is to support green and inclusive growth. That means that growth should respect the environment, climate change and also social issues”.
Hayk Voskanyan, CEO of the National Mortgage Company, presented the aims of the programme and how its advantages could be useful and important for Armenians: ‘The main product of the credit line is affordable, dram-dominated loans offered to Armenian households for energy-efficient renovation. All households in Armenia who have a regular income can apply for the micro-renovation loans. The amount is AMD equivalent to €500-€4,000, and interest rate is 13%-14%. Maturity is 5 years (minimum) and the grace period is 6 months-1 year without any mortgage. There is also possibility for grant of 10% of the loan amount. Besides micro-loans, there is also an energy-efficient loan. All households in Armenia who have a regular income can apply for these loans, which can be AMD equivalent to €4,001-€10,000, with an interest rate of 11%. Maturity is 10 years (minimum), the grace period is 6 months-2 years without any mortgage, and the possible grant is 5% of the loan’.
ARS_2237Armenian citizens can apply for these loans if they have a main income source in Armenia and own either an apartment, single-family house, multi-party house, or country house. The micro-loan can be used to renovate apartments, houses and other residential buildings, or to install additional equipment to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Technical assistance funds are being provided by the European Union Neighbourhood Investment Facility. Each loan offers a 5%-10% cashback grant provided by the EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility upon fulfillment of certain energy-efficiency criteria. Within the framework of the project, the Agence Française de Développement will provide the National Mortgage Company with a €10m loan. The National Mortgage Company will then use this loan to refund mortgage loans provided by its partner financial companies. The loan will be complemented by a grant of €1.5m, provided by the European Union, for technical assistance.

The signing of a loan agreement took place on 9 December at the Armenian Ministry of Finance. Gagik Khachatryan, on behalf of the ministry, representatives of KfW bank and “High Voltage” CJSC signed an agreement for a €85.2m loan; €75m will be provided by the KfW bank and another €10.2m by the Federal Republic of Germany for the primary stage of the “Caucasian energy supply network I” project.
Armenian and Georgian energy supply systems will be unified within the framework of the project through the village of Ayrum on the border between the two countries. The respective renovation works will lead to the synchronisation of Armenian and Georgian power supply systems and better import/export systems for surplus/scarce electricity.
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Apart from the signed agreement a €10m co-funding loan will be provided by the European Investment Bank and another €10m worth grant through the European Union Neighbourhood Instrument. This will make the total budget allocated within the framework of the project €105.2m due to two “High Voltage” CJSC is the main beneficiary of the project and will receive the allocated loan and grant funds.