Of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
December 21, 2013
The Armenian National Platform (ANP) of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Civil Society Forum (CSF) acknowledges the Vilnius Summit as an important event that enabled to “check the realities,” to clearly and adequately formulate the achievements, failures, ambitions, and the degree of responsibility of every individual partner country and the European Union.
CSF ANP once again restates that:
- The decision regarding joining the Customs Union and participation in the formation of the Eurasian Union, thus, respectively, the refusal to initial the Association Agreement with EU was made without proper coordination with the RA state bodies and discussions with the society.
- The almost four-month long appeals by the Armenian National Platform of EaP CSF to the Armenian authorities to include this issue in the RA National Assembly’s agenda, hold parliamentary hearings and present to the civil society the grounds for such a decision have been ignored. Not only the ruling coalition, but the legislative body as a whole, demonstrated no interest or motivation in discussing this matter.
- Investigation of severe violence against civic activists Haykak Arshamyan and Suren Saghatelyan after the protest action held on September 5 against joining the Customs Union, as well as that of other similar cases, are being conducted without the application of necessary means to clear these crimes.
- The repressions of the authorities against the participants of the December 2, 2013 action aimed at the protection of the RA’s sovereignty, particularly, the detention of 110 activists and summoning them to police stations, were unprecedented in terms of their disproportionality and violated the citizens’ rights to assembly and freedom of expression.
- The consequences of failed initialing of the Association Agreement and the movement towards the Customs Union – the humiliating gas agreements, the restrictions of pluralism in media outlets being under the control of the authorities, especially on the air of Public TV, the revision of the status of the RA state language and other similar trends are already troubling.
CSF ANP announces that
- Serzh Sargsyan’s assurances regarding the commitment to human rights and the principles of the rule of law, expressed in his EaP Vilnius Summit speech are not trustworthy in the light of the recent events.
- The conduct of the RA leadership in the recent months in no way complies with the acknowledgement of the importance of strengthening the civil society, as expressed in the joint statement by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and the RA Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian.
- There has been no confirmation of the agreement of the RA authorities to the announcement made by the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule after the 14th session of Armenia-EU cooperation commission, held in Brussels on December 9, 2013, on the prioritization of the role of the CSF ANP in the reforms monitoring process.
- Taking into consideration all the facts mentioned above, as well as the existence of new approaches regarding the format and content of further relations between EU and Armenia within the EaP framework, the Armenian National platform demands from the leadership of the Republic of Armenia to participate in the upcoming session of EaP CSF ANP, which will take place before January 2014, during which the RA Government will be expected:
- To present concrete grounds and substantiation for substituting the European integration by the Eurasian one, for the constitutionality of the decision to join the Customs Union, as well as to provide guarantees for the preservation of Armenia’s sovereignty in the conditions of the current foreign policy trends of RA.
- To discuss and specify the mechanisms of cooperation between the RA Government and the CSF Armenian National Platform, including the idea of “structured dialogue” and the control mechanisms over budget support provided to Armenia by the EU.
ANP will consider the disregard of the above-enumerated demands as RA authorities’ final rejection of any constructive dialogue with the civil society, and therefore a change of government through snap elections of National Assembly and President of the RA will be considered as the only possibility to advance reforms in the country.
Under circumstances requiring the clarification of a possibly new format of EU-Armenia relations, we call upon the EU bodies:
- To learn from experience and to build relations with Armenia based on the unqualified fulfillment of commitments, exclusion of the double standard approaches and strict application of the “more for more” principle,
To be consistent in the assessment of reform efficiency and, in particular, the real involvement of civil society in monitoring the utilization of EU supportThe Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum reconfirms its commitment to the vision of Armenia’s European integration and determination to act as an opponent to the RA authorities on joining the Customs Union. CSF ANP is ready and willing to invest its potential to return Armenia to the agenda of Association Agreement with EU. For that purpose ANP will conduct a large-scale awareness raising campaign and is ready to cooperate with all the political and civic bodies that share the approaches and goals of the Platform.
The Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum reconfirms its commitment to the vision of Armenia’s European integration and determination to act as an opponent to the RA authorities on joining the Customs Union. CSF ANP is ready and willing to invest its potential to return Armenia to the agenda of Association Agreement with EU. For that purpose ANP will conduct a large-scale awareness raising campaign and is ready to cooperate with all the political and civic bodies that share the approaches and goals of the Platform.
EU Eastern Neighbours at the crossroads: Civil Society Forum assesses post-Vilnius scenarios in European Parliament event
EU policy-makers and civil society actors came together at the European Parliament last week for an event organised by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and the office of Jacek Protasiewicz, Vice-President of the EP. ‘EU Eastern Neighbours at the crossroads’ saw participants assess the post-Vilnius situation in the Eastern neighbourhood and look for ways to solve geopolitical and policy dilemmas facing the region, as well as assessing the role that civil society can play in the reform process.
Welcoming participants, former EP President, MEP Jerzy Buzek stressed that the EU offer to the neighbourhood was extremely valuable – in the short-term, a visa-free regime, energy market opening, and experience exchange; in the long-term, total transformation of the countries. Buzek talked about the importance and the role of the civil society in EaP countries and expressed the support the EU is ready to give in commitment for the democratic reforms in the region.
Discussions highlighted concern over the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, Armenia’s rapprochement with Russia and where this left its relations with the EU, the challenges – internal and external – to the signing of the Association Agreement in Georgia, and the way ahead for the reform process in Moldova and the importance of signing the Association Agreement before the next elections.
Arnoldas Pranckevičius, adviser on external policies at the Cabinet of the President of the EP said the Vilnius Summit had served as a ‘wakeup call’ for the EU leaders. In the light of the recent events in Ukraine, he spoke about a more strategic approach the EU should take when it comes to Eastern Partnership – as one of the ways to solve geopolitical and policy dilemmas facing the region. “It is clear that the relations with Russia now need to be revised,” he said, adding he believed the aspirations of the Ukrainian people should be met.
The meeting highlighted the recommendations of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum to the Ukrainian authorities as well as to the EU.
The civil society participants appealed to policy makers to take into the account their voice and recommendations when constructing policies and the strategy in the Eastern Partnership region. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
colleagues and friends of the Forum!
We would like to thank you for your support, participation, ideas and energy with which you contributed to the Forum activities in 2013! This was an eventful year for the Eastern Partnership which we see as an effective and peaceful mechanism of promoting democratic reforms, establishing the rule of law and sustainable market mechanisms in the six EaP countries. There have been a number of collective actions throughout the year that showed that together we are stronger and that exchange of experience has an added value.
We step into this holiday season supporting those who are promoting democratic values and the European choice in each and every EaP country. We wish that next year our countries embrace more of those values and we will continue contributing to these developments with all our energy. Happy Holiday Season!
EaP CSF Steering Committe
EaP CSF Secretariat