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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 Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Traian Hristea met the Mayor of Yerevan, Taron Margaryan, on 25 November. The officials held this meeting to discuss Yerevan’s joining the Covenant of Mayors. The Covenant of Mayors is a European cooperation movement involving local and regional authorities. Signatories of the Covenant of Mayors voluntarily commit to increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources on their territories.
Ambassador Hristea noted that the Municipality of Yerevan was a reliable partner, and the EU was determined to expand its cooperation with the municipality: ‘We have had a number of opportunities to ensure the municipality’s willingness and reliability; the results of this trust have been reflected in our successful joint programmes. I am sure that Yerevan and the EU will expand the framework of cooperation and explore new spheres of interaction’.

Mayor Margaryan emphasised on the importance of finding solutions to environmental issues: ‘The regulation of ecological problems of Yerevan is considered to be a priority problem; by joining this pact I am sure we will have significant successes. Moreover, I am sure that, together with other cities which joined the pact, we will contribute to the solution of ecological problems worldwide’.

Ambassador Hristea congratulated the mayor on joining the project and expressed hope that the effectiveness of cooperation would allow Yerevan to take on a leading role in implementing the conditions of the Covenant: ‘It is a really important step for Yerevan. You now have 5000 new colleagues who represent not only the European Union but also the countries neighbouring the Union, which have similar problems. Together we will be able to cope with emerging environmental problems’.