Issue 84

New Year, new challenges

Dear reader, the Eastern Partnership Armenia Newsletter heartily congratulates everybody with the New Year and Christmas wishing the 2012 to be a year of peaceful and creative work and successes.

We hope that the Newsletter with its weekly news about the most important events within the EU Eastern Partnership, Civil Society Forum and the Armenian civil society life helped you to not only be informed about the progress in EU-Armenia relations, but also to contribute to the raise of activeness of the Armenian civil society.

EaP has been created with an aim to provide democratic values, human rights protection, transparency of authorities and accountability. In recent three years the format of Civil Society Forum (CSF) has been added to the cooperation with the EU on governmental and parliamentary levels. This has created a new arena and effective perspective for all the CSOs of EaP countries: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. The Civil Society Forum is meant to serve the enlargement of cooperation among the authorities of democratic countries of EU and the countries on their way to building democracy.

In November, 2009 the first EaP Civil Society forum held in Brussels greatly contributed to its participants: the formation of expectations from the EU new initiative and the realization of its role in those processes. Recommendations elaborated in Brussels and developed at the 2nd and 3rd CSFs in Berlin (2010) and Poznan (2011) respectively concern all four thematic platforms within EaP, and the formed working groups and subgroups strive to unite the experience, knowledge and skills in protection of interests of the CSOs so as to contribute to the raise of reform effectiveness in partner countries.

Last year the European Commission announced the “More, for more” principle for its neighbors meaning the more the reforms, the more the support from the EU will be. The coming support package will be directed at reforming three main challenges in Armenia: 1. Works towards the negotiations of EU-Armenia Association agreement. 2. Progress in reforms in the fields of justice, freedom and security, 3.Preparation of negotiations over the creation of a deep and comprehensive free trade area.

Jose Manuel Barrosso, President of the European Commission, has welcomed the progress of negotiations over the EU-Armenian Association Agreement stating the following: “Our joint initiative for common values: namely democracy, human rights and rule of law is an important part of our relations and is the basis for the enlargement of cooperation within the EaP”.

On 19th December, 2011 the Council of the EU accredited the European Commission to start the readmission, as well as the negotiations with Armenia over the agreements on the facilitation of visas.

Today both the EU and the EaP countries encounter new challenges. As stated in July, 2011 by Stefan Fule, the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy:     “The Arab spring exceeded the expectations for the realization of institutional reforms in the countries of Eastern Neighborhood. The impact on Eastern Partners, including Armenia, made by those changes can’t be ignored”.

On political level 2012 will be a year of responsibility and challenges for all of us. In May, 2012 Armenia will hold parliamentary elections, another touchstone on the way to democratization in our country. Will the authorities have enough political will, and will th society show enough activeness to hold free, just and transparent elections?

On 28-30th November, 2011 the third meeting of the EaP CSF was held in Poznan, Poland. 24 representatives from elected organizations of the Armenian civil society took part in it. The Forum adopted a new concept and has elected a new Steering Committee of 17 people to act for 1 year. Seyran Martirosyan, the head of the Gyumri branch of the Armenian center of human rights protection after Sakharov, was elected as a new EaP CSF country facilitator of the Armenia.

We hope that in 2012 the Armenian CSOs will be more united to conduct an active and effective activity within the resumption CSF National Platform of Armenia so as to achieve a significant progress in the fight of the establishment of democratic values.

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