Issue 198

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Of the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform Working Group 1 Plenary Session

On the RA Draft Law on Non-Governmental Organizations

December 12, 2014

 We express our concern with some key articles of the RA draft law on non-governmental organizations which has been put into circulation by the RA Ministry of Justice (MoJ), as well as with associated fundamental issues and the current process of the draft law discussions.

The draft law on NGOs should have been a product of open, comprehensive and inclusive process that would insure the participation of all the stakeholders. Whereas such intention on behalf of the RA authorities have not been observed. Moreover, it appears that the authorities are trying to do it in a hasty and covert manner. Case in point, the suggestion of the MoJ Public Council members made about two months ago to discuss the draft law in the parliament that remained unanswered by the authorities. At the same time Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum representing a union of about 200 NGOs was not invited to the discussion of the draft law held by the RA Ministry of Justice.

Presumably, the draft law on NGOs was to be developed based on the concept of institutional and legislative reform for development of civil society organizations, with the premise of settling some controversial issues of the concept. However, the presented draft law does not provide solutions to the controversies of the concept. Moreover, the draft law exacerbates the existing concerns about the autonomy and efficient operation of the CSOs.

In particular, the draft law on NGOs is supported by a number of arguments for increasing the efficiency of the CSOs. These justifications are outlined in the concept, and address the following limitations/obstacles:

  • Constraints for engaging in commercial activities in order to insure sustainable operation of the CSOs through stable financial flaws
  • Unclear and ambiguous provisions that hinder involvement of volunteers in the civic process
  • Absence of legal mechanisms to protect public interests in the court
  • Lack of incentives to engage in philanthropy or to fund charity/in-kind contributions in the existing law.

 None of the mentioned priorities, except for the right to engage in commercial activity, is addressed in the new draft law on NGOs. Moreover, an obvious trend for intervention and oversight over the activities of NGOs can be identified in the draft law. For this non-substantial functions the authorities plan to employ the necessary public resources, instead of directing these resources for the development of the civil society.

Thereof, we see an intention for undue intervention and oversight over the activities of the civil society in the presented draft law.

Expressing our concerns about the draft law and public process around it, we call upon all stakeholders to hold broad and transparent discussion of the draft, in order to avoid destructive and undue controversies of this legislative initiative.

EaP CSF Armenian National Platform

December 12, 2014

Yerevan

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EaP CSF members help shape an appropriate response to the negative impact of Russian propaganda in the Eastern Partnership region

December 15, 2014
EaP CSF website

Up to 10 EaP CSF members contributed to the shaping of an appropriate response to Russian propaganda in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood, following their participation at a conference on the media environment in the region on 10-11 December in Brussels.

The conference, organised by the EEAS,considered the current media environment in the Eastern Partnership countries, including regulatory aspects and resource-related issues impacting on open and balanced debates. Alongside this, the effect of state-sponsored Russian propaganda afflicting the EaP and several EU members was prominently discussed in reference to the media landscape in the region.

Based on the discussions, participants considered possible responses to the identified challenges, including the effectiveness of EU policy and assistance responses.

Among the high-level speakers were Latvian Ambassador-at-large for the Eastern Partnership, Juris Poikans, and Ambassador Einars Semanis as well as representatives of the EEAS and NATO Centre for Strategic Communications.

Finally, participants began preparations for a high-level Eastern Partnership media conference due to take place in Riga in the first half of 2015 under the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum: credibility assessments in asylum procedures in focus

Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum in The HagueThe practices and standards of conducting credibility assessments in asylum procedures were the focus of a two-day expert meeting of the Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum in The Hague on 8-9 December. The event, co-hosted by the Netherlands and Georgia, brought together representatives of EU member states, Eastern Partnership countries, academia and international organizations.

The meeting provided participants with an opportunity to review the definition and the role of credibility assessment in refugee status determination, a press release said, adding  “the combination of theoretical and practical sessions allowed for dynamic and open discussions in a friendly atmosphere.”

The first day began with a reminder of the theoretical and legislative frameworks of credibility assessments, which were presented by UNHCR and the European Commission, while the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) presented the newly developed training module on credibility assessments.

The Polish Halina Niec Legal Aid Centre and the Armenian School of Advocates demonstrated the crucial role of non-state actors in the credibility assessment process, the press release said.

The second day started with a presentation by the University of Amsterdam, highlighting the communication difficulties during the interviews, and the following session touched upon concrete practices and specific methods helping to establish credibility of the claim.

Ukrainian participants shared their approach to comprehensive age assessment for the cases of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers, underling the need to have multidisciplinary teams of experts for this procedure.

To conclude, the Netherlands, Georgia and Moldova outlined the different steps when going from credibility assessment to status determination, stressing that an individual approach in each case remains crucial. (EU Neighbourhood Info)

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Press release

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Armenia and EU discuss visa regime liberalization

 December 10, 2014
Mediamax
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Photo: Photolure

Issues related to starting a dialogue on visa regime liberalization were discussed at the session of the Armenia-EU Cooperation Committee in Brussels on December 9.

The press service of the Armenian Ministry of Economy reports this. Other details on visa regime liberalization are not provided.

“At the session, the sides discussed establishment of the future legal format of trade and economic cooperation. It was decided to continue talks and within upcoming months concretize areas and chapters of the future legal format which will be acceptable for both parties creating preconditions for further development of relations”, the press release of the Ministry of Economy reads this.

Mediamax has recently talked on visa regime liberalization to Polish Ambassador Zdzislaw Raczynski who completed his mission in Armenia in early December.

“Poland has always wanted liberalization of visa regime with Georgia to be simultaneous with that of Armenia. This is our position. But Armenia’s some actions don’t facilitate our work and it sometimes finds itself in ”proud solitude”. I mean, for instance, the consideration of Crimea annexation as exercise of people’s self-determination right. Such practices exert a negative impact against the background of relations with EU states. I think Armenia should persuade its partners in Brussels and new leadership of European Commission that Armenia is the EU’s reliable partner in this important region”, the diplomat told Mediamax.

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