Statement by EaP CSF 1st Working Group on Democracy, Human Rights and Good Governance on the Parliamentary Polls held in Armenia and the Upcoming Presidential Elections
6 June, 2012
The 1st Working Group of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) expresses its concern with regard to the parliamentary elections held on May 6, 2012 in Armenia that resulted in the decline of public confidence in the institute of elections.
Both local and international observers recorded many instances of illegal activities. Such violations as widespread distribution of bribes – including cases labeled as “charity” – pressures on employees, intimidation of voters in a number of regions, use of healthcare institutions and educational establishments as administrative resources, and engagement of teenagers in campaigns, cast a shadow on the election processes.
The machinations of voter lists also had a serious impact on the whole electoral process, which included mass registration of voters from remote communities in nearby districts. In fact, the legislative mechanism of passport stamping against double voting failed. The refusal to lift the ban on publication of lists of voters after elections deepened public suspicion regarding the falsification of votes of citizens living abroad.
As a rule, the law enforcement services did not respond properly to these alerts and the statements on election violations. Widespread application of technologies of fraud in the absence of proper counter measures served as a serious obstacle to freedom of expression, and made significant segments of voters become unwilling participants in violations.
In spite of the fact that TV coverage of the campaign has been more open and equitable compared to previous election cycles, and that there has been a drastic reduction of the cases of violence and ballot stuffing, the above-mentioned flaws, nonetheless, create certain doubts about the legitimacy of the government, and lay foundation for public frustration in Armenia.
We call on the Armenian authorities to demonstrate accountability towards the frustration of the electorate and the issue of providing conditions free choice of citizens. Closer to the upcoming presidential elections, it is necessary to immediately undertake certain measures to tackle these challenges, more specifically:
- Provide the ability to change the government through elections, which has not been done since 1990,
- Exclude the use of administrative resources for the benefit of certain political forces by strengthening civilian control over this phenomenon,
- Forbid vote-buying, identify and punish the bribe-givers and the political parties, which conduct such illegal activities, including the cases, which are labeled as “charity,”
- Lift the ban on publication of lists of voters after elections,
- Separate business and politics, by not allowing officials to run businesses, while holding posts in the national and local government.
We also call on the EU institutions to fully utilize the potential of civil society independent institutions for ensuring fair elections, and demonstrate consistent and principled approach towards contributing to the democratic processes in Armenia.
Statement by the Spokesperson of the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on serious armed incidents along the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan
Brussels, 8 June 2012
“The High Representative is very concerned at the reported serious armed incidents on 4, 5 and 6 June along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Line of Contact in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and deeply regrets the loss of human life.
The High Representative calls on both sides strictly to respect the ceasefire and exercise restraint on the ground and in public statements in order to prevent a further escalation of the situation, which has been deteriorating during the last several months.
Threat or use of force as well as the status quo do not contribute to a resolution of the persisting conflict.
These incidents highlight the importance of a functioning incident investigation mechanism as proposed by the OSCE. Moreover, they reinforce the need for progress in the negotiation process.
The High Representative urges Armenia and Azerbaijan, as partner countries, to step up their efforts to reach agreement on the Madrid principles, as a basis for peace, and to fully implement the commitments made by their Presidents in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. The EU reiterates its full support of the OSCE Minsk Group and the efforts of its co-chairs aimed at a peaceful conflict resolution.”
Statement of the 1st Working Group of the EaP CSF on recent cases of violation of the ceasefire on the contact line of the Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces
We the representatives of the 1st Working Group of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum express our concern with regards to the numerous cases of violation of ceasefire on the contact line of the Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces resulting in casualties from both sides.
We condemn actions that harm the stability in the region and create obstacles for peacefull settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.
We urge the authorities of conflict sides to undertake necessary measures to ensure observance of the ceasefire and fulfilment of obligations that are set forth in the Ceasefire Agreement.
According to the European integration pace Armenia is ranked rather high. And that is proved by the results of investigations conducted by high-class specialists from different countries which are included in “The Eastern Partnership Countries’ European Integration Index 2012” Research.
Except indices of Armenia the above mentioned Research, which was presented yesterday, includes also the results of investigations conducted in the other five Eastern Partnership member-states: Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus.
RA Deputy Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, who was present at the presentation, spoke about the Eastern Partnership noting that it is already a well-known and functioning unit. “We work with the EU on two formats: bilateral and multilateral, the latter – in the aspect of the Eastern Partnership. Synthesis of these two formats affords an opportunity to organize purposeful work with the EU. By implementing European values and standards we will be able to carry out appropriate reforms and secure development,” Z. Mnatsakanyan said adding that we must follow universal European model because although there are numerous European countries, model is the same.
“The Role of the EaP Civil Society Forum in Fostering Judiciary Reform and Monitoring of Democratisation Processes”
A Seminar Held in Aghveran
On June 8-10 in Aghveran Yerevan Press Club with the support of Armenian office of Friedrich Ebert Foundation organized a seminar in Aghveran from on the topic of “The Role of the EaP Civil Society Forum in Fostering Judiciary Reform and Monitoring of Democratisation Processes”.
Boris Navasardyan – President of Yerevan Press Club welcomed the participants and guests of the seminar.
The speakers of the seminar were: Irina Solonenko, Ukraine, Director of the European Program at the International Renaissance Foundation and the coordinator of the European Integration Index for EaP countries and Nazi Janezashvili, Georgia, Executive Director at the organization “Article 42 of the Constitution”.
Irina Solonenko presented the experience in monitoring reform processes in the context of the Eastern Partnership and particularly the results of the European Integration Index study, according to which Armenia is in the third place in terms of EaP European Integration.
Nazi Janezashvili presented Georgia’s civil society participation in the field of judiciary reforms. She suggested expanding the cooperation within the civil society organizations of the EaP countries in this field. She suggested creating an institute in the South Caucasus, which will work out amicus curiae for concrete cases and present them to the European Court of the Human Rights.
Heriknaz Harutyunyan – Yerevan Press Club expert, presented the implementation of EaP CSF recommendations on monitoring of democratic reforms in Armenia.
Yerevan Press Club President Boris Navasardyan spoke about the perspectives for strengthening ties between EaP CSF and Armenian NGOs in the field of the monitoring of reformation processes. It was mentioned that civil society is not only active in the Forum, but also in other international forums where they present Armenia. The activeness of NGOs in the regions was also discussed. Mr. Navasardyan also referred to the meeting of the CSF 1st working group which took place in Brussels, June 6, where the question of creating a uniform methodology for conducting monitoring of media coverage in EaP six countries during the electoral processes.
The third part of the seminar was dealing with the reforms in the judiciary sphere. The speakers were Arthur Sakunts, Head of Helsinki Citizens Assembly in Vanadzor and the Head of Helsinki Committee of Armenia Avetik Ishkhanyan.
Mr. Sakunts presented the role of the EaP Civil Society forum in fostering judiciary reform in Armenia. ”I must suggest you to look at the projects of legal and judicial reforms of 2012-2016, which is placed in the site of the RA Ministry of Justice. I think that the NGOs must be very active and do their suggestions for the creation of independent judiciary power”, said Mr. Sakunts.
Avetik Ishkhanyan talked about perspectives for strengthening ties between EaP CSF and Armenian NGOs in the field of judiciary reforms and the role of civil society in it.
Interview with the President of Helsinki Committee of Armenia Avetik Ishkhanyan
Mr. Ishkhanyan, what progress has the EaP Civil Society Forum recorded connected with human rights?
I can’t say that any progress is recorded, I would say suggestion are made for reforms in the sphere of human rights including freedom of expression, the judicial system and other issues connected with Human Rights. But there is no considerable progress.
How will you assess the parliamentary elections from the perspective of human rights?
I would assess it negatively. I can state my own opinion that in Armenia the electoral mechanism doesn’t work, essentially, the right to vote and right to be elected isn’t realized. There is a situation in Armenia where the ruling political party pertains to the saying of Ludovic 14th “I am the government”, and with this image it participates in the elections not as a separate power but as a state. Thus, no matter what ideology or how many supporters the opposition has, in such conditions it is condemned to failure, as the opposition does not have any influence on governmental levers with its resources. This is the main thing, and concerning its realization, much has been said about it. Starting with methods of using force, which is improving step by step, till the point when everything is clear even before the voting: also with the use of administrative and financial resources. As there is no separation of power it is unproductive to appeal the results of the elections.
Interviewer Lilit Tamamyan