Tag Archives: Piotr Świtalski

15On 11 May, the EU Ambassador, Piotr Świtalski, participated in the opening of a facility that produces construction materials from plastic waste in Kapan. The facility was opened through the EU-funded “Introducing Construction Materials from Plastic Waste” (IES) Pilot Regional Development Programme (PRDP) project, which was launched in 2016. The facility will process plastic waste into materials using several technological processes and be mixed with sand on a production line.

2In order to supply the start-up with enough plastic waste, the project has created infrastructure for its separation and collection all the way down from Yeghegnadzor to Meghri, involving 9 communities in Vayots Dzor and Syunik marzes. The first batch of kerbstones and street tiles will be used to improve public spaces in those communities. The project’s budget is around €749,963, of which €509,978 has been provided by the European Union. The project is being implemented under the Pilot Regional Development Programme (PRDP) funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of the Republic of Armenia. It is expected that the project will end in June 2019.

23Ambassador Świtalski congratulated on the opening of the facility: “I am very happy to come here to show the successful implementation of this innovative project. Three years ago we were deciding which projects should be included in PRDP. When I saw this proposal I started having big misgivings – can it work? And I am really glad that you have proved that it can work. I want to thank everyone involved in this project. I am proud that Kapan is taking a lead, Kapan is developing a project which is innovative and tackles environmental problems”.

ARS_4701Norayr Harutyunyan, the Head of the Project, presented the processes taking place at the facility: “At the end of 2018 we started the renovation of the facility, which lasted 2 months. We had already got all the equipment. On 3 March, we invited specialists from Russia to train our workers from the social security service. As a result, 11 of those trained have been working with us since 10 March. Workers have acquired skills, and all of the machines are working correctly. We have already got the first samples and will start the renovation in Kapan. We hope that, by the end of the year, we will work in two shifts and have up to 22 employees”.

On 19 March the European, in partnership with the Tumo Centre for Creative Technologies, launched the EU TUMO Convergence Centre for Engineering and Applied Science. This is a state-of-the-art STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ecosystem for young adults in Armenia. The European Union has granted €12.5 million for the project. Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, and Piotr Świtalski, EU Ambassador, Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, were the keynote speakers at the launch ceremony.

ARS_1130_Director Meredith was excited to be present at the launch event: “This centre captures the imagination, the spirit of Armenia – this lies at the heart of the future of the European Union. That’s why we all need to invest in innovation. So far, three EU Commissioners have visited this centre – I don’t know any other centre in any other country visited by three EU Commissioners. This is a tribute to your outstanding work and to the quality of your students. I am very proud to launch this strong investment project on behalf of the EU. This launch takes part at a really important moment in EU-Armenia relations. Investment in innovation and young people is so important, as it is an investment in our future relationship. Armenians are particularly brilliant at STEM and I am sure they will succeed”.

ARS_1101_Ambassador Świtalski welcomed all aspects of expanding Tumo: “Today we are linking Armenia with Europe, we are building fusion – what is best in Armenia – Tumo – with what is best in Europe – the EU. We will be expanding Tumo physically by adding a new structure, expanding its philosophy, adding people from new age groups, and stimulating new interests in programmes. Through this project we will try to bridge the gap between science and industry in Armenia”.

ARS_1198_Close to 15,000 square metres of building space will be constructed in Yerevan. The campus will include infrastructure for educational programming such as Tumo Labs, a STEM research laboratory, a conference centre, and a revenue-generating commercial space to ensure the centre’s long-term financial sustainability. Tumo Labs constitute a logical continuation of the Tumo programme, allowing university students and young professionals to gain applied and state-of-the-art skills related to STEM once they reach the age of 18. The centre will be a hub for research, education and start-ups, bringing together local and international partners to bridge the gap between higher education and industry in Armenia. The French University of Armenia is a major partner on the project, and its new Faculty for Informatics and Applied Mathematics will be part of the Convergence Centre.  After the signing event, attendees walked to the site of the future centre and participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking.

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”.

ARS_0639On 20 May the “EU4Shirak: Wool for Jobs” project was officially launched in Amasia, Shirak marz. The project is financed through the Pilot Regional Development Programme. The launch event was attended by the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, the Armenian Minister of Agriculture, Arthur Khachatryan, and the Armenian Minister of Territorial Administration and Development, Suren Papikyan. The experience of the “Wool to Carpet” studio in Shinuhayr community in Syunik marz was presented to the guests to give them the full picture of the expected results for Amasia.
The proposed action follows a value chain development approach for woollen products, from sheep to customer. A wool-processing factory will be established in the community of Amasia, creating at least 20 jobs. To create further new jobs and contribute to economic development, the project will finance 14 proposals offered by SMEs, providing at least 40 new jobs. About 150 job seekers registered in employment centres will develop their skills through training, raising their competitiveness in the labour market. This EU-funded project will also contribute to the development of sheep breeding in the region by providing a stable income for local farmers. The two-year project has a total budget of €549,819 (the EU contribution is €335,000). The project will be implemented by People In Need – Armenia (PIN), in cooperation with Women’s Development “Resource Centre” Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Shirak marz, and the Amasia Municipality.

ARS_0761EU Ambassador congratulated those who have worked hard for the project: ‘The EU is very committed to promoting regional development in Armenia. This project is one of several which we have launched in different marzes. To me, this region is one of the most beautiful corners of Armenia and I am so grateful that we can cooperate on new development ideas, create new jobs, and bring hope to the citizens of this marz. This commitment to regional development is long term; we hope very much that the new government can take this commitment forward, and that we can start new initiatives’.

ARS_0812Minister Papikyan welcomed EU support for the equal development of Armenian marzes: ‘The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development attaches importance to the equal development of Armenia; we have been in constant dialogue with the EU since 2009. The aim of this cooperation is to ensure the implementation of projects and initiatives which complement regional development priorities and bring effective and sustainable results’.

ARS_0848Khachatryan spoke more about the implementation of the project: ‘This project is aimed at restoring traditional sheep breeding. In Armenia, we used to have over 2 million head of cattle – today’s number is barely a quarter of that. We should be able to develop sheep breeding, taking into account the ever-lasting demand for meat. To have good woollen products, we need to have good sheep, but we cannot imagine good sheep without a feeding base, without good cultivated lands, etc. The project take a value chain development; thousands of households will enjoy the impact of this indirectly. If we want to prevent emigration, we should not have more than 40% of non-cultivated land in the country. We need to support smaller producers and processors, not just large businesses. This project can be a great example’.

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’.

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 20 February the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski participated in the Community Resilience Forum in Yerevan, along with regional and community government representatives and development programme officers. Topics covered during the forum included how to strengthen community resilience; the results of the incorporation of disaster risk management into socio-economic development strategies and programmes; the importance of utilising new technologies.
The forum was organised as part of the “Institutionalisation, replication and dissemination of Disaster Risk Reduction interventions in the South Caucasus of the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Department” project. This project is funded by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Department (DG ECHO). The European Union’s regional Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO) aims to make communities in areas prone to natural hazards less vulnerable, and to boost their resilience to natural and man-made hazards. The total DIPECHO funding in the South Caucasus since 2010 is over €10.4 million. In the present funding cycle (DIPECHO V, 2017-2018), the total funding for the Southern Caucasus (Armenia and Georgia) is €945,705 (EU contribution of €800,000) with approximately €520,000 for Armenia through two projects. Current DIPECHO partners in the South Caucasus are: UNDP, UNICEF, Save the Children, Danish Red Cross (implemented through Armenian and Georgian Red Cross societies), Oxfam, and Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB).

ARS_9312Ambassador Świtalski thanked all the partners for their active engagement: ‘The EU is proud to support such initiatives and we do it in the conviction that our engagement in disaster risk reduction is both important and necessary. Disaster risk reduction in this region is not an abstract topic – this year we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the tragic Spitak earthquake. Since then, the risks in the region have increased. We are confronted, for example, by climate change, pollution, and other factors which contribute to these regional environmental risks. So, for the EU, increasing disaster risk reduction capacities in third countries is very important. We are now in the fifth phase of DIPECO; I am very glad that there are dedicated projects for Armenia in this phase. Now we are in the process of discussing with the Armenian Government the inclusion of risk reduction preparation in our bilateral programmes, in particular in our annual Action Plan 2018′.

ARS_9288Davit Tonoyan, Armenia’s Minister of Emergency Situations, wished for fruitful discussion at the forum: ‘All potential actors should unite in their efforts and coordinate on common issues in disaster risk reduction. We must find more effective ways to cooperate and find mutual assistance mechanisms. Disaster risk management guidance at the local level has already been approved to identify hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities in communities, using their own finances. The inclusion of these activities in community development programmes is crucial for sustainable development and resilience. In this context, the allocation of financial resources, including from the community budget, is of great importance’.

On 9 February, Armenia’s Ministry of Justice presented two new e-tools developed with EU assistance. The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, and Armenia’s Minister of Justice, Davit Harutyunyan, participated in and spoke at the “E-Participation Tools in the Ministry of Justice” presentation event.
With the help of the www.e-hotline.am website, a quicker response mechanism for complaints raised by citizens, organisations and other stakeholders has been created. www.e-request.am also provides opportunities to send applications, requests or complaints to state agencies, receive an online answer, and rate the content and timing of the response provided by the state agency. Statistics will be compiled on these data. E-governance and e-justice tools are aimed at improving public service delivery and making them more accessible and comfortable for end users, while ensuring transparency, reducing corruption risks and promoting good governance. Newly introduced e-tools in Armenia will complement other e-gov instruments already established through EU assistance, such as the recently inaugurated e-draft.am, e-civil registry, e-notary, e-police systems, etc.

DSC_7427Ambassador Świtalski congratulated the attendees on making one more important step in the field of e-justice and noted: ‘The main purpose of these activities is to help Armenians benefit in their daily lives; we are moving forward in that regard. For the European Union, this is a very pleasant occasion, as these projects put Armenia at the forefront of the international community in introducing these innovative tools. Armenia can be very proud of the e-tools it already has. The successful implementation of these tools shows many countries that, even with restricted resources, you can bring real results to the people when you have human capital and are determined to progress’.

DSC_7405Minister Harutyunyan thanked the EU Delegation to Armenia for its continuous assistance to the e-governance in Armenia: ‘These tools have important functions. First of all, e-governance enables a broad spectrum of people to be involved in the public governance system. Secondly, they are effective in combating corruption. In reality, we all know that there are different tools to fight corruption – some of them are effective and some are not. However, I think that the most important thing for combating corruption is access to information’.

ARS_5563Armenian civil society has received €1.74 million from the EU for new activities. On 19 January the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski publicised new grant agreements. This confirms European Union’s continuing support for Armenian civil society to promote active citizenship and protect human rights. The projects funded by the European Union will be implemented in Armenia in 2018-2019, with a total budget of over €1.9 million. They will cover a variety of topic areas, including youth, human rights in closed institutions, women’s organisations, national policy and budget implementation, and energy efficiency.

• “A Public Glimpse into a Closed World: Increasing Awareness on the Human Rights Situation in Closed Institutions” will be implemented by Public Journalism Club (PJC) NGO and For Equal Rights (FER) NGO over 2 years. The project has a total budget of €278,072 (EU contribution of €264,168) and will be implemented in all Armenian marzes.

• Freedom of Information Center of Armenia (FOICA) and Maastricht-based European Journalism Center will implement “Access to Information and Investigative Journalism for Better Informed Citizens” over 20 months, with a total budget of €390,000 (EU contribution of €343,200).

• The National Social Housing Association Foundation (ASBA) in cooperation with partners from the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic will implement “EU4Civil Society: Energy Efficiency in Armenian Communities” over 2 years, with a total budget of €372,231 (EU contribution of €335,000).

• Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation – Armenia (OSIAFA), the Institute of Public Policy, and the Union of Informed Citizens will implement “EU4HumanRights: Pursuing Positive Change through Empowering Civil Society” over 2 years with a total budget of €460,035 (EU contribution of €400,000).

• The Near East Foundation UK (NEF UK) and the Women’s Development Resource Center Foundation (WDRC) will implement “EU4Women: Economic Empowerment through Social Enterprise” over 2 years with a total budget of €446,797 (EU contribution of €400,000).

ARS_5570Ambassador Świtalski congratulated the successful CSO grantees and wished them success: ‘There are five winners today but there were many more applicants. I am addressing those who didn’t make it this time: we are determined to continue our support to your activities. I can promise that every good idea, every good project, will find, sooner or later, its way to this final stage. Therefore, today I am congratulating the winners. The projects look different but they are all important in different ways. Why are they important? These projects cover different issues and regardless of your personal interest these projects have something for everyone’.

“Tales of Neto” is already available to download for free on the App Store (goo.gl/skuRfJ) and Google Play (goo.gl/zGLnE8). On 12 December the Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, launched the anti-corruption game at the Tumo Centre for Creative Technologies.
Two years were needed for 16-20-year-old students at Tumo to create this next-generation game. The process was funded by the European Union. On the fictional planet of Neto, the game has levels full of challenges for players to raise awareness about the risks of the corruption, and rewards players which confront it.

ARS_9792Ambassador Świtalski thanked Tumo for its cooperation and the quality of the game: ‘We started the year with the “Stop the Flow of Corruption” campaign. This launch is the crowning event of this campaign – we wanted to raise awareness of the negative effects of corruption and to highlight the EU’s efforts in supporting the fight against corruption in Armenia. Therefore, today is a big day for us. I am happy to be at the Tumo Centre for Creative Technologies, which has become a visiting card for Armenia. Tumo is regular agenda item for us when we invite colleagues from Brussels. Commissioners and other officials love to visit here, as Tumo is the example of a positive future of Armenia. The project was launched two years ago and we are naturally very happy that it has been so successful. I am looking forward to seeing the game in other languages. I hope people enjoy the game and say good things’.

ARS_9774Harmik Azarian, the Head օf Software Development of Tumo Centre for Creative Technologies and the project/game coordinator outlined three key factors of the project: ‘Firstly, we should not forget that this game was created by teenagers who learned everything at Tumo. As the project manager, I was always amazed by their professionalism. Secondly, we should look at the impact this project has had on Tumo itself. The success of the young people who worked on the game gives massive inspiration to the rest of the students who come to Tumo every week.  Thirdly, it’s all about fighting corruption. We hope that a lot of things in the fantasy planet of Neto will be remembered by young people, whether it be embezzlement, bribery, or money laundering. Later, we hope they will not be tolerant of corruption’.