Tag Archives: Head of the CoE office in Yerevan

On 15 June, the Council of Europe organised the “Electoral Developments in Armenia: Lessons Learned and Steps Ahead” conference as part of the “Long-term election related stakeholders of Armenia” project. This project is funded by the European Union and Council of Europe Programmatic Co-operation Framework (PCF) in the Eastern Partnership Countries for 2015-2017.
The PCF is being implemented in two phases: 2015‑2017 and 2018-2020. The budget for the first implementation phase is €33.8 million. The PCF is 90% funded by the European Union and 10% by the Council of Europe (CoE). CoE is the implementer.
The objective of the conference was to examine the organisation and management of the recent local (2016), parliamentary (April 2017) and Yerevan Council (May 2017) elections in Armenia, to what extent they complied with international standards, and how electoral processes could be further improved. The opening speeches were delivered by the Head of EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, Head of the CoE office in Yerevan, Natalia Voutova, and the Chair of Armenian Central Electoral Commission, Tigran Mukuchyan.

DSC_6861Ambassador Świtalski highlighted the importance of examining the election process: ‘We have expressed our preliminary opinion about the last elections as the EU. Like everyone we are now waiting for the final report of the OSCE/ODIHR on the April parliamentary elections. After it we may also publish our additional comments. The drafting of the new Electoral Code stemming from the new Constitution was conducted in an unprecedented consultative manner which is a positive development – ruling coalition negotiated the Code with three opposition parties and some civil society representatives.
It is important to start discussions, to present experience, lessons learned and outline future actions. No one can say that after the elections Armenia’s democratic standards are already perfect – achieving that is a long-term process. The next elections, which will be a long time from now, should be conducted in a more satisfactory way.
We need to acknowledge that the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) has effectively implemented the technical aspects – voter authentication devices – which were funded by the EU with contributions from its Member States UK and German (in total 90 % of the cost) and the US. These devices worked very well and helped to prevent multiple voting.
For the future, I have three key messages/recommendations: 1) To improve the Electoral Code and other pieces of legislation in consensus with all stakeholders (parliamentary parties and civil society); 2) To increase credibility of electoral institutions: notably of the CEC and increase independence of judiciary and political neutrality of the law enforcement bodies; 3) work on addressing shortcomings that happen before and after Election Day, i.e. such as those identified by the OSCE/ODIHR in its Preliminary Opinion – vote buying, abuse of administrative resources, and intimidation of public and private sectors´ employees.”

DSC_6990Mr Tigran Mukuchyan prioritised focusing on the positive aspects of the election process: ‘There is no need to exaggerate and make an emphasis on 1.5% failure and fail to mention 98.5% achievements. No one is saying that we should not criticise or point out the shortcomings; however, it must be acknowledged that we have made a step forward, which will be evaluated in detail. Public perception in the post-election period is an excellent evidence of this’.

DSC_6845Ms Natalia Voutova expressed her gratitude to the EU Delegation to Armenia and other partners for supporting the project: ‘2017 has been a very important year in terms of conducting elections in Armenia, particularly as they were based on the new Constitution and the new Electoral Code. We are looking forward to work with the Armenian authorities and Armenian civil society as we move forwards’.