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On 26 May Kapan celebrated Europe Day in the sun. People gathered under the values of peace and unity on Garegin Nzhdeh Square for music, dance, theatre, and prizes. Before the start of the celebrations, a presentation on the “Introducing Construction Materials from Plastic Waste” (IES) project was made. The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, and the Deputy Mayor of Kapan, Romik Sargsyan, were among the audience.

797A0261For the first time in Armenia, a start-up recycling facility will be established in Kapan, Syunik marz, which will process plastic waste into building materials. To supply the start-up with enough plastic waste, the project will create infrastructure for its separation and collect plastics from Yeghegnadzor to Meghri, including 9 communities in Vayots Dzor and Syunik marzes. The first batch of curbstones and street tiles created will be used to improve public spaces in those communities involved. The two-year project has a total budget of €749,963 (the EU contribution is €509,978).

ARS_4414In his speech the EU Ambassador highlighted that this year Europe Day celebrations had taken on a lighter, festive character: ‘We are so glad to be here again and celebrate Europe Day. This place is very symbolic for us – we consider Kapan to be the southeastern gate to Europe. Coming to Kapan is a must for us in our road map. Just a while ago I was introduced to a new project which was launched in Kapan concerning plastic waste processing. The EU is happy to be helpful in cleaning up the environment and creating new jobs. This is only the beginning – there will be more projects like this in Kapan and elsewhere in Syunik marz’.

797A0540Deputy Mayor Sargsyan welcomed citizens and guests to the celebrations: ‘Europe has been in Kapan for a long time. We have been cooperating with the European Union for many years. We acknowledge the ecological problems in Syunik marz and are now implementing a project to separate plastic from waste and benefit from this. We already have a garbage truck and rubbish bins for plastic in Kapan. Thanks to the ecological component of the project, we will keep our city clean. The social component will create jobs and create a new culture. I am confident that our joint efforts will yield wonderful results’.

ARS_5633On the next day the last regional Europe Day celebration took place in Yeghegnadzor. Residents of Vayots Dzor marz gathered in the city’s amphitheatre to participate in different activities: enjoy good music and dance, participate in various competitions, win surprise gifts, and taste different European dishes.  Ambassador Świtalski and the Mayor of Yeghegnadzor, Davit Harutyunyan, welcomed the guests and gave their congratulations for Europe Day.

ARS_5333Ambassador Świtalski thanked the Mayor and his team for hosting the event: ‘Thank you so much for coming and sharing with us the joy of Europe Day. It is an honour to be in Yeghegnadzor on the eve of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. Let me congratulate Armenia and its citizens on this occasion. The motto of this year’s celebration is “Europe is here”. Europe is indeed very much in Yeghegnadzor. We want to conduct more projects in this beautiful city and this marz. We feel very much at home here thanks to your hospitality’.

ARS_5345Mayor Harutyunyan thanked the EU Delegation for celebrating Europe Day in Yeghegnadzor: ‘I am full of joy that Europe Day is being celebrated in our city for the second year in a row. It is lovely that our citizens have had the opportunity to get acquainted with EU-funded projects. I hope our future cooperation will continue to be effective and that we will be able to implement projects in different areas’.

^7DDA8AFE5020AA3C982A3A493A5E7763BE32FCF15DE2B6ED5F^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrEvery year Europe celebrates Europe Day: the celebration of peace and unity. 9 May marks the anniversary of the historical ‘Schuman deceleration’. On 11 May 2018, Europe Day celebrations in Armenia were officially launched. In the morning, Armenia’s President, Armen Sarkissian visited the office of the European Union in Armenia. The President congratulated the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski and the staff of the office and in their person the large EU family on the occasion of Europe Day and wished them peace and prosperity. The parties exchanged views on the agenda of Armenia-EU relations and programmes which are implemented in Armenia through the assistance of the European Union.
This year, Europe Day celebrations will be held in 6 Armenian cities (Ijevan, Hrazdan, Gyumri, Vanadzor, Kapan, and Yeghegnadzor) and will be concluded in Yerevan on 2 June. The participants of outdoor public events will have the opportunity to learn more about EU-funded projects in Europe and Armenia, to get acquainted with projects’ achievements, to enjoy good music, to participate in various competitions, to win many surprise gifts, and to taste different European dishes. The embassies of 11 EU Member States accredited in Armenia will join in hosting cultural and entertainment events.

ARS_7121_Later that day, Ambassador Świtalski announced the launch of the pan-European holiday in Armenia during a press conference and informed about the upcoming events: ‘We consider Armenia as a member of the larger European family. I invite the Armenian pubic to join us during Europe Day celebrations, which we consider to be a shared occasion, a shared opportunity to show that we belong to the same family. This year, for the first time, Ijevan and Hrazdan will host these celebrations. We will also visit, as usual, Gyumri, Vanadzor, Kapan, Yeghegnadzor and, of course, Yerevan. As always, we dedicate many of our activities to youth, the future of this country. Europe Day is about values; in recent days Armenian youth demonstrated that they believe in the values of democracy, the rule of law, an independent, fair judiciary, etc. This is something that constitutes the common basis of our relations. Soon we will start the provisional implementation of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which is very important. We are looking forward to joint work with all our stakeholders’.

ARS_7052_The launch of Europe Day activities kicked off with a fashion exhibition organised jointly with the Fashion and Design Chamber of Armenia. 16 fashion designers presented exceptional clothing collections created especially for this occasion, inspired by the European flag. With EU support under the EU4Business initiative the ‘Business Club for Impact’ joined up with the ‘Fashion and Design Chamber’ to establish the Business Club for Fashion and Design in February 2018. This unites more than 60 individual designers who for the first time have created a joint platform for the fashion and design industry, aimed at promoting more knowledge and business skills in the world of design. The Business Club is funded by the “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (SMEDA) project, co-funded by the EU and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. It is being implemented by GIZ’s Private Sector Development in the South Caucasus Programme.

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.

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.

Every year, Europe Day marks the anniversary of the historic signing of the Schuman Declaration. Europe celebrates this day of peace and unity with other countries. Building on the tradition of the last five years, the European Union Delegation to Armenia has again invited everybody to participate in the week surrounding Europe Day 2016. This year, Europe Day in Armenia is larger than ever before: celebrations will be held in five different marzes ending with final celebrations in Yerevan.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, visited new EU-funded community business initiatives and held official meetings in Jrashen and Vanadzor. He then opened the Europe Day celebrations, stressing the importance of young people’s participation: ‘This year is special because Armenia is celebrating 25 years of independence and also 25 years of cooperation with the EU. This year, the slogan of Europe Day is “EU for youth”. You are the future of your country – do not leave, stay here and make your country better. The EU will help you to modernise your country, we will continue our work in Vanadzor, in beautiful Lori region, to help to create more jobs, improve education, build infrastructure, and make your lives better. Enjoy the celebrations, the music and art, and feel European because Europe is bigger than just the EU’.
13239395_1024657984254797_7846088451343054478_nDespite the rain, citizens of Vanadzor gathered in Hayq Square to enjoy the celebrations and performances of the artists and stayed for the entire duration of the concert programme. At the end of the concert, three winners of a special quiz dedicated to EU-Armenia cooperation were announced. Hayk Ghazaryan from Vanadzor won the grand prize – an ArmTab.
The next Europe Day celebrations took place on 15 May 2016 in Shirak region where Ambassador Świtalski also held official meetings. These meetings were followed by passionate discussions with Varditer Gasparyan, Akhurik Village Councillor, about the importance of increasing day-care options in rural areas to promote women in politics and in the business sector.
13237795_1024660580921204_8033867778539497143_nFollowing the official visits, Europe Day celebrations reached the cultural capital of Armenia – Gyumri. The Ambassador and his team attended a Europe Day concert on Theatre Square in the city centre, where he again spoke about the importance of youth to Armenia’s development: ‘I salute Gyumri – a city which arose from the ashes of a tragic earthquake; a city of artists, painters, actors; the cultural capital of Armenia. Gyumri is the most European of Armenian cities, not only because soon it will have a “Europe Square”, but mainly because of its free spirit, which is so European. This year’s Europe Day is dedicated to the young generation – through our projects we want to help youngsters to realise their dreams in their country and not to look for a better life abroad. I am very happy to see so many young people here’.
The large audience covered all ages, young people, families and the elderly, who enjoyed the performances of Armenian artists and even got their bodies moving with the “Street Workout” show. Prizes were also awarded to the winners of the Europe Day quiz in Gyumri.