Issue 194

csf_armenia_logo-engSTATEMENT

OF THE EU EAP ARMENIAN NATIONAL PLATFORM ON ARMENIA’S ACCESSION TO EEU

 November 10, 2014

Signing of the agreement to join the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) by Armenia on October 10, 2014 disrupted the country’s course of establishment and strengthening of democratic institutions, as well as social, economic, and other sectors; a course which is difficult but has no alternatives. Clearly, ineffective governance and private interests along with falsified elections have been almost insurmountable obstacles on this path. Nevertheless, the political course for signing the Association Agreement with the EU, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement gave hopes that Armenia could develop through strengthening of democratic institutions and economic empowerment.

In fact, by joining the EEU, Armenia steps into the path of political adventurism, led by the ruling political force, which has repeatedly demonstrated its narrow partisan ambitions, which were put above the interests of the state and nation. Apparently, the most ominous consequence will be the loss of sovereignty of the country, along with the inferior and humiliating status of Armenia in the EEU.

The process of integration with the Eurasian Economic Union was accompanied with disturbing escalation of ceasefire violations along the Mountainous Karabagh border and considerable slow down of economic growth in Armenia that will further exacerbate according to forecasts of prominent international organizational.

At the same time, obvious trends for restriction and oversight of civil society activities are contained in the new legislative initiative. Some oppositional political forces of Armenia regarded this U-turn of the Armenian foreign policy course with irresponsible indifference; others welcomed it, or considered it to be irreversible reality. Such political forces, together with the ruling political majority, are leading the country towards a dangerous and unpredictable future, in order to please the Kremlin and satisfy their own narrow personal interests.

Armenian National Platform of EaP CSF expresses its concern over the following:

  • The agreement to join the EEU was signed with gross violation of the RA Constitution, without appropriate legal procedures.
  • By entering EEU Armenia will be deprived from the right to voluntarily withdraw from the Union, which means that our country is losing its sovereignty.
  • Armenia is joining a Union which members are authoritative, not democratic states, where violations of human rights and freedoms are widespread.
  • The arguments that EEU will ensure the security of Armenia don’t stand any criticism, especially, since this factor is not included in any of the founding documents of the EEU.
  • RA government have not provide the Armenian public with any information as to how, to which extant and in what format Armenia will proceed its political and economic relations with the EU, given the current situation. And finally, will Armenian lose the “GSP+” with EEU accession?

We, the representatives of the CSF Armenian National Platform member organizations, call upon the government and oppositional political forces and the civil society to review the decision of entering this dangerous game, fraught with devastating consequences.

At the same time, we are disappointed with disproportional response of the European Union to the EEU agreement signed on October 10 and associated dangers, thus ignoring the threats that the expansion of EEU poses to Armenia and other countries of the region.

CSF Armenian National Platform intends to continue wide public discussions on the developments in the Armenian foreign policy and prioritizes public awareness about all the risks associated with EEU membership.

In the existing situation, we consider prevention of ratification of EEU agreement by the Armenian National Assembly to be the sole solution. For this reason, we call upon all the political and civic forces that are against Armenia’s accession to EEU to unite, in order to be able to effectively struggle for prevention of this destructive process.

EaP CSF Armenian National Platform
November 10, 2014
Yerevan

csf-logoEaP CSF presents at conference in Brussels focusing on future of Eastern Partnership

EaP CSF website

06 November, 2014

Krzystof_Bobinski_EP_5_NovThe Eastern Partnership initiative of the European Union has been a significant achievement, former CSF steering committee co-chair Krzysztof Bobinski said at a meeting on 5 November in the European Parliament organised by the East Poland House, a lobby-group bringing together Poland’s eastern regions.

Defending the policy, Bobinski praised officials from the External Action Service (EEAS) who had worked hard to promote European values and draft regulations on the Eastern Partnership at “countless, often boring meetings” in a method, which was like “dripping water onto a stone” in a bid to dissolve it.

Mr. Bobinski further commended DG DEVCO officials for supporting the EaP CSF, adding that outgoing Commission officials Catherine Ashton and Štefan Füle had often been quicker to criticise human rights violations in the Partnership countries than had the CSF itself.

Mr. Bobinski called for the policy to be continued as the EU’s drive to bring these countries closer to Europe supports pro-European civil society activists in Armenia and Belarus.

Read more` here.

csf-logoEaP CSF statement of solidarity with Belarusian human rights defender Elena Tonkacheva

EaP CSF website

05 November, 2014

The Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, expresses deep concern following the decision of Belarusian authorities to cancel residence permit and deport for three years the Belarusian human rights defender, chairperson of the Board of the Legal Transformation Center (Lawtrend) Elena Tonkacheva.

Since 1985, Elena Tonkacheva, citizen of the Russian Federation, has been living in Belarus where she finished school, received higher jurisprudential education, has a permanent residence and a job, family and property. We know Elena Tonkacheva as an active figure of civil society of Belarus, qualified expert, and leader of the human rights defending organization. For 20 years, she and her organization have rendered professional legal and expert support to numerous non-commercial organizations in Belarus and people in the situations when human rights have been infringed. The formal basis for the residence permit abolition is the facts that Elena Tonkacheva broke traffic regulations (she insignificantly exceeded the speed limit).

We believe that the decision to cancel the residence permit and to expel her from the territory of the country is a politically motivated and disproportionate sanction in comparison with the danger of the committed misdoing. The real basis for this decision is Elena Tonkacheva’s political position and active human rights defending activity.

 Full Statement

european-commission-flagSupporting modernisation and reform: EU announces new support for Armenia

07-11-2014

P026577000702-435098Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn this week met Armenian Minister of Economy, Karen Chshmaritian, visiting Brussels, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding launching the Single Support Framework for EU support to Armenia, which sets the priorities for cooperation over the period 2014-2017.

The EU and Armenia are committed to continuing cooperation in areas of mutual interest based on shared values. We support the country’s modernisation efforts and we will continue encouraging necessary reforms in Armenia,” said Commissioner Hahn after the meeting on Monday.

The Commissioner and the visiting Minister signed a Memorandum of Understanding, launching the Single Support Framework for EU-support to Armenia 2014-2017, worth between €140 million and €170 million. The private sector, public administration, and justice will be the three priority sectors for implementing reform.  These measures will be complemented by support to the modernisation of public institutions and support to civil society.

The Commissioner also announced a first package of EU assistance for 2014 under the new framework. The fresh funding of €19 million will focus on small businesses and human rights protection in Armenia. The assistance is provided within the framework of the Eastern Partnership.

Supporting businesses and innovative start-ups can, in the long run, boost job opportunities, increase economic competitiveness, and enhance the overall progress of the private sector of Armenia. In the field of human rights protection, the new programme will help improve relevant legislation in the areas of right to free elections, torture prevention, anti-discrimination, gender equality and child protection.

The Commissioner and Minister Chshmaritian also signed a Financing Agreement for a Sector Support Programme to Agriculture and Rural Development worth € 25 million.

The Single Support Framework is a programming document, which will chart EU support to Armenia in the period of 2014-2017. It has been consulted with national authorities, civil society, EU institutions and EU Member States.

The three following priority sectors of intervention have been agreed: private sector development, public administration reform and justice sector reform. In addition, complementary support will be provided for training and knowledge sharing to support the modernisation of public institutions, and for civil society to build stronger democratic processes and accountability systems.

The indicative allocation for the whole period is foreseen between a minimum of €140 million and a maximum of €170 million. These figures are indicative: final allocations will depend on the country’s needs and commitment to reforms. The funding comes from the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI). (EU Neighbourhood Info)

Read more Press release and further information on programmes EU Delegation to Armenia  

european-commission-flagEastern Partnership territorial cooperation: future partners from Armenia and Georgia invited to apply for cross border projects

10-11-2014

maliy_ararat_enlargedLocal authorities, communities and civil society organisations from the neighbouring regions of Armenia and Georgia are being invited to apply for joint cross-border projects in the framework of the Eastern Partnership Territorial Cooperation Programme (EaPTC), which has an overall budget of €1.35 million for the two countries. Potential partners from the Shirak, Lori and Tavush regions of Armenia together with partners from the Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions of Georgia can apply for grants until 3 February 2015, a press release said.

Enhancing the regional competitiveness of agriculture, raising the touristic attractiveness of border regions, solving cross-border environmental problems, enhancing local self-governance, multi-cultural dialogue and youth exchange across the border are among the priorities of the new initiative.

Application form, criteria of project selection and other important information can be found in the Guidelines for Applicants here.

Project proposals can be submitted to the office of EaPTC Managing Authority South (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, 5 Elene Akhvlediani Agmarti, 0103 Tbilisi, Georgia).

The Managing Authority South together with the EaPTC Support Programme is organising a series of Information Days in the eligible regions of Armenia and Georgia, where interested state and non-state actors can learn more about the programme. The InfoDays will take place on the following dates:

10 November at 10:00 in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia (Akhaltsikhe Centre for Civic Engagement, 19 Manvelishvili street);

12 November at 10:00 in Gyumri, Armenia  (Marzpetaran, 16 Nzhdeh street);

14 November  at 10:00 in Dilijan, Armenia (Best Western Hotel Paradise, 156 Kamo street);

17 November  at 10:00 in Rustavi, Georgia (Rustavi CCE Centre/USAID Centers for Civic Engagement).

The Eastern Partnership Territorial Cooperation Programme (EaPTC) aims to promote and strengthen cross-border cooperation between regional and local state authorities, communities and civil society organisations over developing joint solutions to common social and economic development challenges in the participating border regions. (ENPI Info Centre)

Read more Press release Application guidelines

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