EaP CSF Appeals to Pope Francis to Encourage Lasting Peace and Respect for Human Rights in the South Caucasus
20 June 2016
Ahead of the visits of His Holiness Pope Francis to Armenia (24-26 June), Azerbaijan and Georgia (30 September-2 October), the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Steering Committee addressed the Holy Father in an Open Letter appealing to encourage lasting peace and respect for human rights in the South Caucasus.
“The citizens and the rulers, as well as the religious leaders in these countries and their congregations, will be listening carefully to the message deliver by you in public and in private. Your words will carry a special weight as they will come at a time when the threat of a return to war hangs over Armenia and Azerbaijan and the resulting destabilisation could affect the entire Caucasus region,” reads the letter.
The message to the Pope reiterates the main challenges in the region and role of the church in finding the solutions: “Peace and respect for human rights are essential if an ecumenical dialogue is to flourish in the region between Christian denominations themselves and with other faiths, some of which today carry the seed of radicalism. Indeed, religious leaders in the region must be encouraged to do more in their work for peace among their peoples.”
On June 15 Ambassador Piotr Świtalski attended the presentation of the soon-to-be-adopted draft Armenian Regional Development Strategy 2016-2025, which was elaborated with the support of the EU funded project “Support to Regional Development in Armenia”. Presentation of the Strategy during the meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, was delivered by the Minister of Territorial Administration and Development David Lokyan. The meeting was also attended by the Vice Prime Minister Vache Gabrielyan, Minister of Economy Artsvik Minasyan and other representatives of the government. The presentation was followed by Q&A session and constructive discussion on the challenges of social-economic development in the regions of Armenia and the course of territorial-administrative reform which should ideally be accompanied by further decentralization of powers and resources to the local self-government bodies. The European Union pledged its continuous support for minimizing disparities between the regions of Armenia and the capital Yerevan.
Source: EU Delegation to Armenia
On June 15, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski attended the 3rd Anti-Corruption Council meeting that was chaired by the Prime Minister and attended by representatives of various Armenian ministries, institutions, civil society organisations and international organisations. This was the third such meeting following the ones in July and December 2015. With a very active participation of leading civil society organisations, among others, the meeting discussed on the establishment of an independent anti-corruption body. Other topics discussed were how to minimise corruption risks in the defence sector and in public procurement. On the basis of the proposals of the civil society organisations, the Prime Minister instructed the relevant institutions to present plans and revise laws in order to tackle and solve the issues arisen. Ambassador Świtalski congratulated the Armenian Prime Minister for his engagement in the fight against corruption as well as for his openness to the contribution of the Civil Society Organisations.
Source: EU Delegation to Armenia