Tag Archives: EU Ambassador to Armenia

On 28 September, the official opening of European Heritage Days 2019 took place at Amberd fortress, Aragatsotn marz, organised by the EU Delegation to Armenia jointly with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport of the Republic of Armenia. The theme of this year was “Arts and Entertainment”. The EU Ambassador to Armenia, Andrea Wiktorin, and the RA Minister of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport, Arayik Harutyunyan, opened the event and held a press briefing with journalists.

Ambassador Wiktorin spoke of the importance of cultural heritage: “We are happy to visit here again and see the wonderful Amberd fortress. This fortress is one of the jewels of your country. The EU attaches great importance to cultural heritage, as we think it is one of the ways which can unite us. For years, the EU Delegation to Armenia has supported the implementation of European Heritage Days in Armenia and I am extremely grateful for our cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport”.

Minister Harutyunyan was excited to launch European Heritage Days: “Amberd is one of our most important historical and cultural sites. I am glad that a number of events will be organised in different places in Armenia for European Heritage Days. It is a great opportunity to present the present and the past of Armenia’s cultural heritage. As for our general cooperation, we are implementing a number of projects with the EU to marry culture with entrepreneurship, in which we have had some success”.

European Heritage Days this year has featured various cultural events, concerts, video shows, marches, literature and music events, educational, and interactive programmes. These events have involved more than 100 Armenian cultural organisations.

European Heritage Days are held annually in the 50 European countries which joined the European Cultural Convention (1954). The idea appeared in France, in 1984, under the motto “Monuments’ Open Doors”. The “European Heritage Days” programme was officially established by the Council of Europe in 1991, and the European Commission joined the programme in 1999. This initiative started under the motto “Europe: A Common Heritage”. Annually, more than 70,000 cultural events are held throughout Europe to increase public awareness about European heritage, to emphasise its uniqueness and diversity, and the importance of its preservation.

Amberd is a former fortress built in the 10th century. It is located in Aragatsotn marz, on the north-eastern slope of Mount Aragats. There are ruins of cyclopean masonry and fish-like obelisks at Amberd and the surrounding area. As a result of excavations, various metal items, weapons, jewellery, ceramics, coins, and other materials of high cultural value have been found; these are key to studying and understanding the economy, military and cultural life of medieval Armenia. Vahramashen church, which was built under the sponsorship of the Prince and Sparapet (Commander) Vahram Pahlavouni in 1026, is located near Amberd.

 

ARS_4477On 21 November, the EU Ambassador to Armenia, Piotr Świtalski and representatives of three civil society organisations signed three new grant contracts. The EU allocated €850,000 for new projects on and around 9 December related to snap elections preparations and monitoring in Armenia. The projects are financed through the European Initiative for Human Rights and Democracy’s (EIDHR) budget for Armenia and include activities on civic engagement with and awareness raising for first-time voters, women and people with disabilities, recently graduated journalists, and the general public. There will also be a social media monitoring initiative and three different election observation missions. This support runs in parallel to the European Union’s substantive contribution to the Election Basket Fund (the Contribution Agreement of €1,500,000 signed on 14 November 2018) aimed at strengthening the election administration system before early parliamentary elections on 9 December 2018.
The projects are:
1) Building Capacities for Observation and Promoting the Integrity of Parliamentary Elections in Armenia
2) Electoral Preparation and Monitoring by Civil Society Organisations in Armenia: Elections for All
3) ENEMO International Observation Mission for the Parliamentary Elections in the Republic of Armenia

ARS_4458Ambassador Świtalski highlighted the importance of this event to the EU: “It is election time in Armenia and the EU continues to help Armenians to organise good elections and to have legitimate, credible, and strong parliamentary representation. A few days ago we signed a contribution agreement to the Elections Basket Fund with the Ambassadors of Germany and the United Kingdom, the Swedish Chargée d’Affaires, the UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, and the Acting First Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia, Ararat Mirzoyan. The EU contribution to the project is €1.5 million. Today’s event is also extremely important – it is about empowering civil society, about empowering Armenian citizens to be involved in the electoral process. I am grateful to our partners who decided to create these partnerships and implement the projects at very short notice. We hope very much these efforts will be fruitful. While we all understand that democracy is not built overnight, and is not only about good elections; it is a long-term process. That said, it starts with elections and we believe that these elections will meet best international standards and will open up a new chapter for Armenia”.

On 20 March four new projects were launched through the EU-funded EU4Youth initiative. The projects will focus on increasing employment opportunities and employability of young people across the country, providing young people with new skills, training courses, work experience, and opportunities for entrepreneurship. These new projects were launched by Lawrence Meredith, the European Commission’s Director for Neighbourhood East, together with the EU Ambassador to Armenia, Piotr Świtalski. The EU contribution to these projects in Armenia amounts to €1.9 million.

ARS_3844_The “EU4Youth: Fostering potential for greater employability” project will improve education and employment opportunities for disadvantaged youth. The “EU4Youth: Better Skills for Better Future” project will develop the entrepreneurial potential and increase employability of disadvantaged youth, ensure their increased access to education and training opportunities, and advocate for the development and implementation of coherent and cross-sectorial youth policies at the local and national level. The “EU4Youth: Employability and stability” project will focus on the empowerment, employability and entrepreneurship potential of socially and economically disadvantaged youth, especially young women. The “EU4Youth – SAY YES Skills for Jobs” project will address unemployment and the lack of income opportunities for youth in rural areas. The EU4Youth initiative (total budget €22.75 million (EU contribution: €20 million)) fosters the active participation of young people in society and improves employability by developing youth leadership and entrepreneurship through a variety of actions, including capacity building, fellowships, support to policy dialogue, and grants to organisations active in these areas.

ARS_3744_Lawrence Meredith highlighted the importance of youth empowerment in his speech: ‘We are already doing a lot to promote the role of youth. For example, for my generation, Erasmus was a defining change in the European Union. We want Erasmus+ to be a defining change for your generation. The Eastern Partnership Summit in 2017 endorsed the Eastern Partnership’s “20 Deliverables for 2020” which focuses on cooperation to produce tangible results for citizens. A key deliverable in the Summit Declaration is the new Youth and Education Package. The core of this package is the EU4Youth initiative. Therefore, it is a great pleasure to launch four new projects today, which will take EU4Youth vision a step further in Armenia’.

ARS_3786_Ambassador Świtalski praised Armenian youth: ‘The young generation in Armenia faces great challenges. You have to bring your country to a new level – your parents created an independent state, they established institutions, but they carried, and still carry, values from the past. You enjoy different levels of freedom, and it is your responsibility to build your country’s future, drawing on the best examples of the history of human civilisation. You are not a generation which can simply profit from the past, you have a challenge ahead. The EU strongly believes in Armenian youth. You are privileged to come from a civilisation rich in traditions. You are very talented, which is why we are offering you our support’.

On 29 September with the participation of the EU Ambassador to Armenia Piotr Świtalski, the Armenian Deputy Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Arsen Karamyan, and the Armenian Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Tadevos Avetisyan, the campaign of four roundtables devoted to Civil Society Day in Armenia was summed up. This awareness raising campaign was organised through the EU-funded “Support to Civil Society Facility Programme”.

ARS_1990This campaign highlighted the dedicated work that civil society in Armenia is undertaking and the initiatives the European Union is implementing to encourage the development of the sector. The four roundtables entitled “Social Entrepreneurship as an Alternative Route to Economic Development in Armenia” presented by the EU funded “Restoring living conditions in Armenia” project; “Social Inclusion Issues in Armenia” presented by EU funded “First inclusive and barrier-free Bakery and Coffee Shop in Gyumri” project; “The Role of CSOs in Shaping Public Policy” presented by the EU funded “Commitment to Constructive Dialogue” project and “Empowered Youth for Armenia’s Future: New Partnerships, New Bridges” presented by the EU funded “BRIDGE for CSOs” project achieved significant results. The roundtables involved lively discussion, with participants contributing innovative ideas with clear practical use. Each roundtable tackled important issues and created new opportunities to bring about positive social change.

ARS_0399During the final roundtable Ambassador Świtalski emphasised the mutual reliance and collaboration between the EU, the Armenian government and CSOs: ‘The topic of youth is very important, not only for Armenia, but for many countries. For Armenia, young people constitute the most important untapped potential for the country’s development. Young people are the future of any country, but in Armenia it has a deeper meaning, a meaning that the government is now taking seriously. We, the EU, want to be helpful – you know how we are offering support. However, if you were to ask me to systematise our assistance, it is about three critical issues: education, jobs, and voice. If these three aspects are addressed properly, then we can expect positive results’.

On 24 March, the EU Delegation to Armenia and the Italian Embassy in Armenia organised the “Ever Closer Union” photo exhibition to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties. The exhibition was open to the public from 25 to 27 March at the Armenian Artists Union.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties the mobile “Ever Closer Union” photo exhibition became a reality due to the efforts of the Historical Archives of the European Union, in collaboration with the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the European Parliament Department for European Policies, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Italy, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the ANSA news agency.
The exhibition included archive documents and images presented across fourteen panels. These featured documents, pictures, and educational captions were divided into four sections: history, European unification through economy and law, social Europe and European citizenship, and the European Economic Community/EU international dimension.
The main aim of the exhibition was to present the public with a comprehensive picture of the past (the creation of the European community), the present (the European Union today,) and the future (challenges facing the European Union).
The EU Ambassador to Armenia Piotr Świtalski and the Ambassador of Italy to Armenia Giovanni Ricciulli held opening speeches.

ARS_1946Ambassador Świtalski stated that the Rome Treaties were examples of documents that could change history: ‘Europe, the most peaceful, prosperous and generous of all continents, continues to have the characteristic feature of never being satisfied with its achievements. It may sound pretty provocative to say, but Armenians also have significant interest in Europe’s prosperity. A bright future for Europe means a better future for Armenia; a stable and strong Europe means more support and assistance for Armenia’s modernisation and democratisation processes. I am sure that the new framework agreement will allow us to reach a new level of relations’.

ARS_1975Ambassador Ricciulli noted that the history of European unification involved successfully confronting challenges: ‘While it is undeniable that the European Union is facing significant challenges, it is also true that now is the time Europeans show how much they appreciate close cooperation. Today’s exhibition will highlight the great successes that we have achieved on this important journey’.

This year in May, in the framework of Europe Day events, the exhibition will be presented in six Armenian cities, also giving opportunity to the residents of Armenian regions to visit it.