OSCE, EU enhance co-operation with Armenia on election administration
Yerevan, 25 April 2012
OSCE Office in Yerevan
The Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Ambassador Andrey Sorokin, and the Head of the Armenian Central Electoral Commission (CEC), Tigran Mukuchyan, signed a long-term co-operation agreement on promoting efficient election administration, including through an EU-funded project on supporting democratic elections in Armenia, as well as other international election-related efforts.
The agreement envisages the facilitation of technical, educational and informational support to the Armenian CEC for the forthcoming parliamentary elections in 2012 and the presidential election in 2013.
“While it is acknowledged that genuine electoral reform and the conduct of democratic elections depend primarily on the political will and resources of domestic players, the role of the international community with its collecting positive engagement is an important contribution to promoting democratic elections in line with internationally recognized standards,” said Sorokin.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Traian Hristea noted the decisive role of the CEC in ensuring free and fair elections in Armenia.
Main areas of co-operation under the agreement signed today include the provision of technical equipment for the streamlined operation of the automated “Elections” system, the modernization of the CEC’s internal computer network, training for election officials and observers, as well as the production of informational and awareness raising materials for voters.
The major part of the assistance package will be provided through a 1.7 million euro project, implemented by the OSCE Office in Yerevan and funded by the EU. The agreement also envisages co-operation with other international partners.
The OSCE Office in Yerevan has been providing assistance to promote electoral reform in Armenia since 2000. It has co-ordinated and chaired the international working group on elections, as well as streamlined the international community’s efforts in reforming election legislation, improving election administration, raising public awareness and strengthening domestic observation groups.
OSCE, EU train Armenian police in public order management prior to elections
Yerevan, 26 April 2012
OSCE Office in Yerevan
The training courses aimed to develop the capabilities of some 100 senior, middle and junior level Armenian police officials dealing with public order management. Topics included operational planning, effective command and control, negotiation techniques in line with international standards, threat and risk assessment, use of information and intelligence, legality, accountability and transparency, as well as relations with the media and communication methods.
“Maintaining public order throughout the whole electoral period and at the polling stations on election day is an important responsibility of the police that can impact on the conduct of electoral processes,” said Ambassador Andrey Sorokin, the Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan. “We believe that effective planning as well as proper negotiation between the police and any crowds is a key to ensuring safety and security, especially in the pre-election period”.
“Free and fair elections are an important pre-requisite for the development of EU-Armenia relations. The role of the police in the electoral process is essential in terms of ensuring transparency, as well as public confidence,” said Traian Hristea, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia.
Fifty-five representatives of the Fourth Special Battalion troops of the Police Patrol Regiment who are directly involved in crowd management practised the techniques during the last week of the training.
The two recent guidebooks on police conduct, use of force and negotiation techniques in public order management developed with OSCE support last year were used during the training course.
The training is part of a 1.7 million euro project on strengthening electoral processes in Armenia in line with international standards, implemented by the OSCE Office in Yerevan and financed by the EU.
A project has been launched to support documentary filmmaking in the South Caucasus, run by People in Need, Sakdoc Film and Internews Armenia. The CAUCADOC project is funded by the European Union through the Eastern Partnership Culture programme and builds on the 14 years of experience of People in Need’s international human rights documentary film festival One World.
CAUCADOC includes residential workshops dedicated to the development of creative documentary films, master classes and lectures at partnering festivals, the Golden Apricot International Film Festival, Batumi Art House Film Festival and Tbilisi International Film Festival, as well as a series of debates focusing on key issues related to audiovisual industry in the region. CAUCADOC will support small-scale local documentary film festivals. Documentaries will also be introduced to schools as an effective methodology for civic education.
“We want to get more people interested in documentary film as an art form and also start up a documentary platform in the region,” says Anna Dziapshipa from Sakdoc. CAUCADOC also aims to enhance public debate on recent and current issues of interest or controversy in South Caucasus. “Documentary films are really a serious tool in the society in terms of helping to better understand each other,” says Nouneh Sarkissian, director of Internews Armenia.
CAUCADOC has also announced a call for applications for professional documentary filmmakers and has invited documentary film teams (directors and producers) from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to apply for an intensive project development course by 20 May. Selected teams will be given the chance to take part in a six month training course (two week long workshops and continuous online support). During the course, the teams will develop their film ideas with the support of international and local tutors, focusing on the content and form of their project as well as on the production strategy.
At the end of the course, the teams will have the opportunity to present their projects to international film funders and festival representatives at PitchDoc, which is being held during the Tbilisi International Film Festival. The most promising teams will also be provided with scholarships to attend major European documentary film events in 2013.
The €12 million Eastern Partnership Culture Programme aims at assisting the Partner Countries in their cultural policy reform at government level, as well as capacity building and improving professionalism of cultural operators in the region. It seeks to strengthen regional cultural links and dialogue within the Eastern Partnership region, and between the EU and ENP Eastern countries’ cultural networks and actors. (ENPI Info Centre)
Event in June for youth workers looking to develop international partnerships under Eastern Partnership Window
A partnership building activity with training elements aiming at creating viable partnerships with a focus on projects to be submitted under the Youth in Action Eastern Partnership Window will be taking place in Predeal, Romania, from 17 to 22 June.
The event is targeted at NGOs and public institutions working in the youth field interested in learning more and getting involved in Youth in Action projects in general and in the Eastern Partnership Window in particular.
A special focus will be addressed to organisations (NGOs or public institutions) interested in developing projects under the Eastern Partnership Window.
Participants are expected to be youth workers (project managers, trainers) and representatives of such organisations able to share the knowledge, experiences and good practices, and finally to came up with the ideas of projects and find new partners for the projects. Participants are expected to be involved in youth or social work.
The Eastern Partnership Youth Window is a new initiative within the EU-funded Youth in Action Programme aimed at fostering co-operation between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries in the field of youth.
The deadline for applications is 18 May 2012. (ENPI Info Centre)
The European Union Delegation to Azerbaijan has issued a local statement condemning the brutal beating of Idrak Abbasov, journalist for the ‘Zerkalo’ newspaper.
The journalist who is a representative of the ‘Institute for the Freedom and Safety of Reporters’ was filming the demolition of houses in the Sulutapa settlement in Baku.
“This is regrettably yet another example of unacceptable pressure journalists in Azerbaijan are exposed to and runs counter to the country’s commitments to guarantee media freedom,” the statement said.
The EU Delegation called on the authorities “to ensure effective investigation of the incident and prosecution of the perpetrators responsible for the act” and “for all the necessary measures to be taken to ensure that the working environment for journalists in Azerbaijan is free of harassment and intimidation”.
The statement also said the EU Delegation remained committed to assisting Azerbaijan in fulfilling its own commitments with regard to fundamental freedoms. (ENPI Info Centre)
The Statement of the Ukrainian Platform of Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Regarding the Implementation of State Anti-Corruption Policy in Ukraine
The members of Ukrainian National Platform of Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum are deeply concerned about the critical situation regarding the scale of corruption in Ukraine and its impact on social processes. Thus, in 2011 68 % of Ukrainian citizens were involved into corruption-related activities, though they admitted corruption is one of three most important problems of the state.
The Ukrainian bill “On Prevention and Counteraction to Corruption” which was adopted in 2011 was positively assessed by the Council of Europe and other international anti-corruption organizations and gives hope to the comprehensive modernization of state anti-corruption policy. Ukrainian National Platform welcomes the efforts of Viktor Yanukovych aimed at approval of National Anti-Corruption Strategy in 2011-2015, as well as at strengthening the role of National Anti-Corruption Committee, President of Ukraine, and appointment of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine to the coordinator of state anti-corruption policy. These steps along with the national action plan on fighting corruption could lay the ground for implementation of anti-corruption reforms which are needed for Ukraine’s presence in the club of integral and economically developed European states.
Besides, National Platform is worried about a number of steps taken for the implementation of National Anti-Corruption Strategy.
- National plan of Ukraine regarding the Action Plan on Visa Liberalization for Ukraine by European Union in 2011 and an order of the President of Ukraine “On the Primary Actions for the Implementation of the bill “On Prevention and Counteraction to Corruption” envisaged the establishment of independent central authority body, which had to be responsible for the coordination of national anti-corruption policy. In return, as of March 27, 2012 such a body doesn’t exist in Ukraine and previously announced draft law on this topic was not submitted for consideration by the parliament.
- The implementation of State Programme on Prevention and Counteraction to Corruption (2011-2015), adopted in November, 2011 in accordance with National Anti-Corruption Strategy, is under threat of termination due to the absence of necessary resources for its implementation. In particular, it has already caused the delay for uncertain time of a single web-portal of administrative services operation by the Ministry for Economic Development.
- The creation of the single register of persons who committed corruption-related offenses is considered to be a progressive step aimed at implementation of effective control of unfair civil servants. Though, the constraints inherent in the bill “On Personal Data Protection” virtually level the importance of the register and negatively influence the way public perceives the authorities’ efforts in fighting corruption.
- The statements on conflict of interests and declaration of property, assets, and expenses of civil servants, included into the new anti-corruption legislature, should be welcomed and supported with all the possible measures. In return, the decision of Constitutional Court of Ukraine concerning the case # 1-14/2012 on 13.03.2012 levels the meaning of the above mentioned law and negates the concept of conflict of interests and the openness of data on the financial status of public servants.
Taking into consideration the above mentioned, the members of Ukrainian National Platform of Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum address the President of Ukraine as an author and coordinator of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy with the following demands:
- To submit as a pressing one the draft law on the specifically empowered state authority responsible for coordination of state anti-corruption policy for the consideration by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine;
- to charge the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to revise the scope and the sources of funding of the State Programme on Prevention and Counteraction to Corruption in 2011-2015;
- to charge the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine to elaborate the amendments to the Ukrainian bill “On Personal Data Protection” concerning the guaranteeing of the openness of data included in the Single register of the persons who committed corruption-related offenses;
- to take under personal control the process of concomitance of the bill on conflict of interests and the foundations of ethical behavior of civil servants in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
If the President’s team does not make allowances to these recommendations, the comprehensive implementation of National Anti-Corruption Strategy is threatened. This, in turn, alienates Ukraine from efficient anti-corruption reforms and the perspectives of membership in the European community.