Tag Archives: Gyumri

086A0559On 19 May Vanadzor was ready to host Europe Day celebrations. On Hayk Square people of different ages gathered to enjoy the many activities on offer. European cultural diversity was presented through shadow theatre, mini-shows on different European countries, delicious dishes, competitions, and surprise gifts. The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, and the Mayor of Vanadzor, Mamikon Aslanyan, also joined participants.

ARS_0063The EU Ambassador was thankful for the opportunity to celebrate Europe Day in beautiful Vanadzor, Lori marz: ‘We have come here again to celebrate Europe Day. I hope you will enjoy your time throughout the evening as we have prepared a lot of activities for you. We believe it is a good tradition to save one day a year for this celebration. It is our common joy – we consider Armenia to be an integral part of the wider European family. This celebration is more than about projects implemented in Armenia. Of course, the EU is the biggest donor and investor in Armenia, but it is the European spirit which we share, the spirit of freedom, dignity and solidarity’.

ARS_0090Mayor Aslanyan wished everyone a good time: ‘May is a month of joy for all Armenians and Europe Day has been added to our many holidays. It is already the fourth year that we have celebrated this celebration of peace and unity in Vanadzor – it is becoming a good and awaited tradition for our citizens. I am happy that we have had the chance to share this joy with our European friends’.

ARS_1150The next day it was Gyumri’s turn to welcome the Europe Day celebrations. This year, the celebrations are being held under the slogan “Europe is here”. For these celebrations, the Europe Day Anthem is written which is performed by children from different Armenian marzes. The main message of this Anthem is that Europe is here and ready to work for the benefit of all Armenian citizens. Ambassador Świtalski and the Mayor of Gyumri, Samvel Balasanyan, welcomed the people gathered in the Theatre Square.

ARS_1362Ambassador Świtalski thanked everyone for coming and celebrating together: ‘This year we are targeting the younger generation. We have brought music, dance, theatre and gifts for you. I hope you will enjoy as for us these celebrations are about joy. We, of course, face many problems and challenges, but we believe that once in a year we should share our joy. Europe Day is about hope and a better future’.

ARS_1403Mayor Balasanyan welcomed guests and citizens of Shirak marz: ‘Europe Day has been celebrated in Gyumri for years, marking our friendly relations. Together with the European Union, Shirak marz and the city of Gyumri are cooperating and implementing various projects. We will develop sectors, such as energy, culture, tourism, and others. We have an arrangement with the Ambassador to develop this cooperation further’.

^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.

On 19 March the last information session on the new call for proposals for “Vocational education and training – business partnerships on work-based learning and apprenticeships” announced by the European Union Delegation to Armenia in Gyumri. The aim of the session was to support potential applicants and to familiarise them with the topic and application procedures.
The call is inviting the submission of proposals on VET-business partnerships to develop work-based learning and thus promote work-based learning in all its forms, apprenticeships in particular. The EU’s global objective is to stimulate sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development through an improved transition from training to employment. The details of the call can be found here. Concept notes must be submitted online through Prospect before the deadline of 17 April 2018 at 17:00 (Brussels time).

ARS_3669_The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, participated in the information session and encouraged broad participation: ‘In the past, the European Union has financed multi-million project to support the development of vocational education and training (VET) facilities in Armenia. However, when we analysed the results of our efforts we realised that very few people who graduated found a job in the profession towards which they had studied; many even sought and found work abroad. Today I was told that this is a problem that Gyumri also shares. Therefore, our new VET project is tailored more tightly to the Armenian context and geared more clearly towards matching education and labour needs. We want to help Armenia to develop a good model for tuning supply with demand’.

On 25-28 January the 5th National Selection Conference of European Youth Parliament (EYP) Armenia took place in Gyumri, Shirak marz, as part of the “Democratic Citizenship: Obtaining, Developing, Empowering” (DECODE) project. More than 100 participants gathered from all over Armenia and Europe to discuss various topics in their respective committees. On 26 January the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski and Samvel Balasanyan, the Mayor of Gyumri participated in the conference’s official opening ceremony.
EYP Armenia was founded in 2012 and become a successful network and platform for active youth in Armenia. It has given young people the chance to express their viewpoints, develop critical thinking, and become a coherent part of socio-economic and political life, both in Armenia and the EU. Since then, more than 40 regional, national and international projects and events have been implemented, engaging around 4,500 young people from Armenia (as well as hundreds of foreign participants).

ARS_7158Ambassador Świtalski wished all conference participants success: ‘I think it is very important that young people come to Armenia from different European countries and consolidate the bridge between Armenia and Europe. We, the European Union, want to support the young generation. In Armenia young people are our primary target. The EU has been working through different projects and ideas; one of the most notable is the EU4Youth programme. By 2020 the programme will award €20 million in grants to 100 organisations to increase young people’s civic engagement and participation in political discourse, as well as their skills development, employability and employment. We are now starting 5 projects; 4 of them will be implemented in Armenia. We will soon launch them and I am very happy that Armenia is taking the lead in implementation. All four projects will target youth, particularly disadvantaged youth, and support their education, skills development and employability’.

ARS_7255During the conference, participants discussed various social issues, from unemployment to security. After four days of discussion, the participants have to present open voting solutions to the European Youth Parliament’s Berlin Office, as well as to relevant state and private agencies. Participants from European countries also had the opportunity to learn about Armenian culture, history, and heritage. Upon completion of the Gyumri National Selection Conference, the 9 best-performing participants were selected by the panel to take part in the 87th International Session of the European Youth Parliament in Vilnius, which will take place in summer 2018.

On 25 October the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, was in Gyumri, Shirak marz, on a working visit. In the morning the Ambassador met the Governor of Shirak, Arthur Khachatryan.

ARS_6983After the meeting, the Ambassador participated in the opening ceremony of an IT incubation laboratory at Gyumri Technology Centre. Microsoft Innovation Centre Armenia opened the IT incubation laboratory as part of the “Boosting Technological Developments in Shirak Marz” project, funded by the European Union and the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development. The project aims to support Shirak’s economic development by enrichment of unemployed youth and business development of IT community. This two-year project was launched in December 2016 and has a budget of €750,000.
The incubation laboratory will provide a 5-month coding boot camp in information technologies for unemployed 17- to 35-year-olds living in Shirak. The project will collaborates with local IT companies to identify human resource demands and train junior developers. It will include nearly 200 participants. The first round of training has already been completed, and more than 50 people have sat an intensive training course on programming. Starting from November, they will be sent on coding boot camps by potential employers. The programme expects to have newly trained 90 IT professionals employed at local companies.

ARS_6729Ambassador Świtalski spoke about the importance of informational technologies: ‘There are many reasons to feel happy for this event. Firstly, this is the first and one of the most important projects that we are doing together with the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development. It is a part of our joint effort to boost regional development – I am happy to see the results. Secondly, this project is about IT technology, a digital Armenia. We believe that Armenia has big potential, particularly in this field. The EU wants to support all the efforts of the Armenian government and stakeholders. Thirdly, it’s not only about capacity building, it’s about job creation. We hope very much that sub-granting employers could benefit from this lab. Fourthly, it’s about the new generation. We believe in Armenian youth; we want to develop their abilities and to fulfil their aspirations in Armenia itself. Finally, this project is important for its regional focus in Gyumri, Shirak. We want to do more projects in this city and the whole marz’.

ARS_6768The Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Development, Davit Lokyan, highlighted the importance of the laboratory: ‘Through this project, we are trying to reduce youth unemployment in Shirak and improve young people’s knowledge and skills in IT, a priority for Armenia today. In Shirak, GDP per capita is the lowest in Armenia and the government has set itself a task to improve the situation by 2025’.

ARS_6752The Director of the Microsoft Innovation Centre Armenia, Artashes Vardanyan, noted that Shirak has huge potential: ‘Shirak has huge human resource potential. The project aims to both expand IT companies and create new workplaces through buildings skills and knowledge among unemployed youth and better positioning in local and international markets’.

After the tour, the project announced the results of a sub-grant opportunity. 7 local IT companies will receive sub-grants of €5000-€10,000 to expand their activities and create new workplaces for project trainees.
Ambassador Świtalski concluded the day by visiting the Emili Aregak Support and Resource Centre for Children and Youth with Disabilities in Gyumri.

Europe Day celebrations reached the Armenian marzes after having been officially launched in Yerevan. The first stop of regional celebrations were in Gyumri (Shirak marz), Vanadzor (Lori marz), and Dilijan (Tavush marz).

Gyumri was the first city to host events on 12 May. In the morning, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, held a meeting with the Mayor of Gyumri, Samvel Balasanyan.

11After the meeting, Theatre Square opened Europe Day celebrations with an Information Fair. More than 20 stalls presented EU-funded projects, covering topics such as the environment, agriculture, business, investment, civil society, education, innovation, human rights, and youth. Visitors had the opportunity to tour the booths and learn about the programmes – there was a special booth for children to draw, as well as musical accompaniment from a DJ.

1After touring the booths, the Ambassador addressed the crowd and informed them about future plans: ‘We have a solid tradition of starting regional Europe Day celebrations in Gyumri, which makes me glad. Altogether we, the EU, have contributed more than €500 million to the development of Armenia. One of our priorities is to bring more projects to Gyumri and the rest of Shirak marz, to be more present and engaged here. We want the citizens of Gyumri to benefit more from the European Union’s activities in Armenia’.

Children from the Gyumri music schools performed the Anthem of Europe to open the Europe Day concert, which included special guests Hayk Petrosyan and Masha Mnjoyan. A wide variety of people gathered in front of the stage to sing and dance alongside their favourite performers.

Vanadzor was the next city to join in the celebrations of peace and unity on 13 May. As in Gyumri, Ambassador Świtalski met with Mamikon Aslanyan, the Mayor of Vanadzor in morning, before an Information Fair on Hayq Square.

2This time more than 10 EU-funded projects focusing on agriculture, business, civil society, education and innovation were presented, giving visitors a chance to learn more about the EU and its assistance, and to feel closer to this engagement with the wider European family. Children were particularly drawn to the drawing tent, while adult and teenage residents enjoyed the ambient music of a local DJ and the good weather while browsing the stalls.

ARS_8279Ambassador Świtalski addressed the crowd after visiting the booths, highlighting the importance of Vanadzor: ‘Vanadzor is very important to the EU – the city is well known not only for its beauty but also for its very talented and dynamic youth. The EU is the biggest donor in Armenia, together with our member states we provide more than 50% of all international support to Armenia. We want more to work in the Armenian marzes, in cities like Vanadzor. We want to continue to support infrastructure, the development of tourism, and small business’.

22Children from the Eduard Kzartmyan music school in Vanadzor performed the Anthem of Europe, paving the way for guests Hayk Petrosyan and Masha Mnjoyan, whose music was greatly enjoyed by an audience that sang and danced along until the end.


The final stop of the week was Dilijan, on 14 May. This is the first time Dilijan has hosted Europe Day celebrations. Ambassador Świtalski and the Mayor of Dilijan, Armen Santrosyan first met with members of the Dilijan Euroclub. Despite the heavy rain, people still flocked to visit more than 15 booths on EU-funded projects, covering agriculture, business, civil society, education, human rights and innovation.

ARS_8789The Ambassador congratulated citizens of Dilijan for their first participation at Europe Day before the concert began: ‘I want to thank all our partners in this beautiful town for helping to organise this wonderful event. I am here with a large team from the EU Delegation, it is a pleasure for us to celebrate peace and unity with you. This year our celebrations are entitled ‘The European Union for Armenia’ – I am happy that the EU is sponsoring projects in Dilijan and in Tavush marz. I want to use this opportunity to let you know that we want to come more often and do bigger projects in Dilijan. There is no age discrimination, but we want to focus on young people. I want to thank all young people for coming and developing a good association with the EU. Enjoy the evening and remember that we are here for you and for the modernisation of Armenia’.

3Children from Dilijan music schools also performed the Anthem of Europe and passed the stage to Hayk Petorsyan and Masha Mnjoyan. The weather had cleared by the time the concert began so the audience were able to let loose!

The European Union has launched two new calls for project proposals on its ongoing grants programmes. The total amount available under these new calls is €4.4 million.
On 10 April the Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, announced the launch of first call for projects proposals for the “Reinforcing Civil Society in Armenia” grant scheme in Yerevan. The budget is €1.5 million. This scheme aims to strengthen civil society in Armenia and to provide civil society organisations (CSOs) with alternative sources of financing. The EU is looking for innovative projects that will make Armenia a healthier, safer, cleaner place and more sustainable.

ARS_2475The Ambassador highlighted the importance of the grant scheme: ‘It’s a great pleasure for me that the European Union is continuing grant programmes in Armenia. Today we’ll speak about a call for proposals targeting our civil society partners. What is it about? Firstly, we want to strengthen the capacity of civil society to monitor the implementation of our programmes here. Secondly, we want to promote responsible citizenship in Armenia to increase public accountability. We are asking civil society to be motivational and organise public campaigns around nutrition, road safety, energy saving, environment, recycling, etc. Thirdly, we want to help civil society to diversify finance streams and be more sustainable, including fundraising, crowdfunding campaigns and social enterprises’.

ARS_2514Grants can be between €150,000-400,000 in size. Sub-granting, the provision of financial support to third parties, will be a core characteristic of this call. Applicants applying under the objective of increasing CSOs’ monitoring capacity must propose financial support to third parties. This support can be in many different forms, for example prizes for independent investigative journalists. The press conference was followed by an information session for stakeholder representatives to present detailed information about the grant scheme and the rules for participation in call.
On 11 April, the Ambassador visited Gyumri to announce a new €2.9 million grant scheme. This has been designed to promote an inclusive and empowered society in Armenia by facilitating participation of civil society and local authorities in poverty reduction and sustainable development processes at the local level.  It will contribute to raising economic competitiveness, creating jobs, and reducing labour migration in the regions. This call for proposals has the objective to enhance people-to-people contact and local community development through sport, culture, education and tourism.

ARS_2610Ambassador Świtalski noted that it was a pleasure to launch a new call for proposals: ‘This is a very interesting and important project. The EU is very committed to helping local communities. The projects proposed can support the development of outdoor activities, such as summer and winter sports, that can have an impact on tourism development; educational programmes to complement compulsory education and offer higher education institutions innovative learning platforms and spaces; create cultural associations to promote the performing arts, music, theatres, literature, painting, animation, filming, etc’.

Grants will be between €300,000-600,000 in size. Sub-granting will again be a core characteristic of the call. Concrete tourism-orientated actions led by CSOs (Lot 1) or local authorities and their associations (Lot 2) must mobilise communities to promote tourism as a means for local economic development. Under Lot 1, applicants must support third parties, which can include prizes to top performers and change makers, including journalists or young entrepreneurs.
The press conference in Gyumri was also followed by an information session for stakeholders. These two calls complement the large-scale EU-supported capacity building and re-granting programmes for civil society currently ongoing in Armenia, as well as the recently announced €1 million grant scheme for regional development, which is aimed at promoting culture and the creative sector.

On 17 February, the EU Ambassador to Armenia, Piotr Świtalski, made a one-day working visit to Gyumri, Shirak region. The day began with official meetings with Hovsep Simonyan, the Governor of Shirak region, and Samvel Balasanyan, the Mayor of Gyumri. The parties discussed development priorities for the region and the city, focusing on the cultural and creative sectors.
Later on, at a press conference, Ambassador Świtalski announced the launch of the €1 million Grant Scheme for Regional Development. This is aimed at ensuring economic growth, creating jobs and reducing emigration by promoting culture and the creative sector in Shirak region.

ARS_7522The Ambassador highlighted the importance of the project, especially in Shirak region: ‘Gyumri is one of the best places to launch a project to develop the economy through culture. Gyumri has cultural potential and huge capacity. The EU is very adamant to promoting regional development in Armenia. We believe that one of the obstacles confronting Armenia is the imbalance between the capital and the regions. In order to develop successfully and in a sustainable way, this gap should be filled. Therefore, we believe that the EU Delegation to Armenia should be orientated towards the purpose of regional development’.

This grant scheme is the second call for proposals under the Pilot Regional Development Programme Grant Scheme (PRDP GS). The overall objective of PRDP GS is to create more economic opportunities in the Armenian regions.The first call for proposals was published in September 2015 and 7 PRDP grant contracts were signed with the EU and the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration as a result. Project implementation started at the beginning of this year.
The second call for proposals will select one or two additional regional projects focused on culture and innovation for funding. Eligible organisations from all regions can apply if they find a suitable regional partner from the target region.
The available budget for this second call for proposals is almost €1 million, of which €700,000 is provided by the European Union and €175,000 by the Armenian government. Applicants have to provide a minimum of 10% in co-financing themselves. Selected projects should be implemented within a maximum of 24 months. The deadline for the submission of concept notes is 24 March 2017. Full project proposals will be elaborated only by short-listed candidates.

ARS_7862In the evening, Ambassador Świtalski, Governor Simonyan and Mayor Balasanyan met again at a concert of classical music. The concert entitled ‘Culture and Development: Building Bridges’ marked the launch of the grant scheme which will promote the development of cultural and creative sectors in Shirak region.

From 30 November to 5 December 2016, the “ARTerial Road” cultural project held events in Gyumri, Shirak marz to promote the European values of equality, freedom of speech, tolerance and democracy through art. During those days, lectures, training, and master classes for local artists and art critics were held, in which Jirka Pfahl, a European artist from Leipzig, Germany, took part.  This cultural project was implemented by the Berlin Art Hotel in Gyumri and funded by the European Union.
On 5 December, Piotr Świtalski, the EU Ambassador, paid a visit to Gyumri to participate in the final events. The Ambassador first met with Gyumri Euroclub members, students and CSOs at the Berlin Art Hotel, where he chaired a discussion on human rights and domestic violence in Armenia.He then took part in a joint press conference with Alexan Ter-Minasyan, the Director of Berlin Art Hotel, and Jirka Pfahl.

2Ambassador welcomed the choice to hold events in Gyumri: ‘Through supporting this project, the EU Delegation to Armenia would like to signal its intent to be more involved in working in the Armenian marzes. We want to support more local initiatives, particularly in Gyumri. Now we are discussing with the Armenian government the so-called “Single Support Framework for EU support to Armenia from 2017-2020” – we would like to start focusing our assistance in one or two marzes, and Shirak is one of the candidates. Gyumri is the cultural capital of Armenia, the only city where there is a “Europe Square”. Don’t be surprised to see me more in Gyumri, or to see more EU projects carried out in Gyumri and Shirak marz’.

3Pfahl was very happy with his invitation to participate: ‘I was invited to convey European values, such as freedom of speech and democracy. We have to concentrate on people in this materialised world, and through our two-day workshops with local artists and young people we explored long-term possibilities and how to connect democratic values. I hope that we will be one of the best examples in the world for how to live in an open and peaceful way where art, culture and our children’s future develop freely within the natural environment’.

“ARTerial Road”ended with the launch of an art exhibition on human rights at the Berlin Art Hotel, which, after the press conference, all invitees had the opportunity to enjoy.