The Position of the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform
on the September 9 and 12 statements of non-governmental organizations regarding the developments around the new Electoral Code
EaP CSF Armenian National Platform, which unites more than 220 organizations, expresses its support to the September 9, 2016 and September 12, 2016 statements (see attached, in Armenian and English)of a group of non-governmental organizations devoted to the developments around the RA new Electoral Code. Meanwhile, we express our concern on the distorted presentation of the civil society’s positions on the Electoral Code.
We would once again like to underline that our representatives have not signed or initialed any joint document with government and/or non-government parties. Neither has a trilateral consensus been reached during the 4+4+4 conditional format discussions, which ended several months ago. Finding important the discussions with the authorities around the Electoral Code, we propose clarifying the framework of that process, the powers and status of the participants as well as the conditions of public awareness with a goal to increase the efficiency of the discussions.
EaP CSF Armenian National Platform
on Russian Border Guards’ Unlawful Actions against RA Citizen
September 16, 2016
On August 30, 2016 in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport the border guards of Russian Federation arrested Stepan Grigoryan, an active and experienced representative of Armenian civil society, former deputy of the RA Supreme Council and former adviser to RA Minister of foreign affairs, Chairman of the board at Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation. After 10 hours of detention, during which his passport was seized, he was deported to Armenia from Russia. In addition, the border guards justified such attitude towards him by the fact that he was denied entry to the territory of Russian Federation until 2030 under articles 26 and 27 of Russian Federal Law on “The Procedure for entering the Russian Federation”, in particular under point 9 of Article 26 “on deportation of the foreign citizens, that participate in the activities of undesirable international organizations on the territory of Russia”. Later, however, it appeared that according to the Russian Federal Migration Service website, Stepan Grigoryan has the right to enter the territory of Russian Federation without any restriction.
We consider that the Russian authorities’ groundless and unlawful actions which restrict the right to free movement of the citizen of the Republic of Armenia have political grounds, as Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation, whose head Stepan Grigoryan is, actively cooperates with European non-governmental organizations and does not conceal the fact that they see the future of the Armenian people in the family of European countries based on democratic values. It is also noteworthy that visa-free regime is set between Armenia and Russia. For that reason it gave rise to doubt in Armenia that Russia has a “sanction list” of undesirable Armenian citizens. Finally, Stepan Grigoryan does not perform any activity in the Russian Federation and his objective to enter that country for several hours was merely of personal nature (a visit to the deceased father’s grave). Imposing sanction on Stepan Grigoryan for the latter’s activity in Armenia and third countries, the Russian authorities, in fact, intervened into the internal affairs of Armenia and those countries, where Stepan Grigoryan performs legitimate activities.
It is not the first time recently that Armenian civil society representatives are targeted by Russian state or non-state actors. Not long ago a similar incident happened when an unknown website, serving well-know interests, disseminated a list of alleged American agents, which contained the photos and data of a number of active representatives of Armenian civil society.
Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum condemns the unlawful action committed by the Russian state body against Stepan Grigoryan.
Knowing that RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent an inquiry to the Russian Embassy in Armenia on Stepan Grigoryan’s case, we call on the diplomatic service of Armenia to demonstrate adherence to principles and consistency in the protection of the violated rights of the RA citizen.
We also call on the Russian Embassy in Armenia, suggesting to provide clarifications on the following questions:
- What does Stepan Grigoryan, who does not perform any activity in the Russian Federation, have to do with the list of international non-governmental organizations, whose activity has been recognized as undesirable on the territory of Russia (http://minjust.ru/ru/activity/nko/unwanted)? Are the representatives of any organization cooperating with the organizations of that list subjected to the effect of articles 26 and/or 27 of Russian Federal Law all over the world?
- Does the action taken against the representatives of any organization that cooperates with the ones included in that list refer to the use of Russia’s airports as transit stops by the latter?
- On what principles and criteria are the “undesirable international organizations on the territory of Russia” defined?
We also state that in case of absence of full-fledged and comprehensive response to these questions, as well as in case of repetition of such actions against any representative of Armenian civil society, we will have to call on all our partner organizations operating in the EaP and EU countries to refrain from visiting Russian Federation or using the territory of that country as transit zone.
A regional grassroots network of organisations will meet to discuss energy efficiency and climate change, under the EU-funded Civil society Local Energy Efficiency Network (CLEEN) project, in partnership with the Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) network. Two meetings are being organised with the aim of increasing citizen participation in decentralised energy production, to establish cooperation between local grassroots organisations and to give citizens a stronger voice in policy making.
A meeting on energy efficiency takes place on 19-21 September in Bakuriani, Georgia and a workshop on energy cooperatives will take place on 26-28 September in the Armenian city of Ashtarak. Anna Samwel, head of WECF branch office Georgia, said: “We see grassroots organisations grow strong, self-confident and more professional with the CLEEN programme, working with the local governance and making a real difference in their communities.“
CLEEN (Civil society Local Energy Efficient Network) is a 3-year EU-funded project that aims to build a partnership of civil society organisations (CSOs), as well as to strengthen CSOs’ capacities in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The project focuses on energy efficiency and cost savings, and increased accountability of local and national authorities on this issue. WECF coordinates this project, and provide technical expertise. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
Improving lives for farmers: EU steps up support for rural development in Armenia
The European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) has stepped up its support for farmers and rural areas in Armenia, the EU Delegation in Yerevan announced yesterday. A press release said the programme had already improved the lives of nearly 800 farmers directly, with an indirect impact on a further 3,200 through the creation of 55 agricultural cooperatives in Armenia.
The cooperatives have been provided with the latest equipment and technology, and their staff trained in the production of high quality products. With the support of ENPARD, these cooperatives are producing buckwheat, European type high-value cheeses, non-traditional vegetables such as broccoli, and dried fruits and herbs. All ENPARD products will be available in local stores already in November 2016, including fourteen unique brands.
The press release said the EU had recently released a further EUR 7 million in funding through ENPARD, out of a total 25 million euros in support of agriculture and rural development over three years. EU support through ENPARD contributes to achieving key the Eastern Partnership objective of reducing economic and social disparities, with high unemployment and poor livelihoods a particular problem in rural areas of Armenia. (EU Neighbourhood Info)