On 28-29 November, 2016 Brussels hosted the EaP CSF 8th Annual Assembly, held under the title “Building a Common Secure and Democratic Future” for the first time in 7 years since the meeting that marked the beginning of the Forum’s work.
The 8th Annual Assembly brought together around 200 representatives of CSOs, the EU Institutions and EaP governments for vibrant discussions at over 15 sessions.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations along with the Co-Chairs of the EaP CSF Steering Committee, Ulad Vialichka and Krzysztof Bobinski, delivered opening addresses
Throughout parallel panels the participants discussed such EaP CSF priorities as energy security, youth development and transparency of EU funding in the region. During the event the EaP CSF members presented the projects and publications they had developed in the past year, including the outputs of the EaP CSF 18 re-granting projects.
The General Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the EaP CSF, adopted 12 resolutions on topics of major concern, two of which were related to the existence of prisoners of conscience in Armenia and the Russian authorities ban on Stepan Grigoryan’s entry to the territory of RF.
The 8th EaP CSF Annual Assembly ended with the election of the new EaP CSF Steering Committee 2016-2017. Boris Navasardian, President of Yerevan Press Club was elected as Armenian national coordinator and Haykuhi Harutyunyan, President of “Protection of Rights without Borders” NGO was elected as EaP CSF WG 1 (Democracy, Human Rights, Good Governance & Stability). Thus, Armenian National Platform will have two representatives in the EaP CSF Steering Committee.
Resolution of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum on Prisoners of Conscience in Armenia (July 2016)
November 29, 2016, Brussels
Recalling the unprecedented mass violations of human rights in Armenia in July 2016;
Relying on the results of the Monitoring Mission on human right violations in Armenia conducted by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum;
Following closely the investigation of July 2016 events and the increasing public doubt towards the investigation’s effectiveness;
Regretting the lack of progress with regard to the State’s intention to hold the law enforcement officers accountable for their actions and moreover, criminally charging only the participants of peaceful assemblies;
Expressing concern for the widespread practice by the courts and law enforcement agencies of pressurizing engaging in violence against and wrongly prosecuting citizens.
Being perplexed by the fact that the Republic of Armenia Prosecutor’s Office is joining the criminal cases against the participants of peaceful assemblies to the criminal case instituted again st the armed group that occupied the Police regiment,
The EaP CSF remains convinced that human rights and fundamental freedoms are essential values, and that in the case of any unlawful intervention or infringement of these values, it is the responsibility of the state authorities to conduct an effective and comprehensive investigation. The state authorities should not tolerate human rights violations and should prevent the strengthening of a culture/climate of impunity and the erosion of democratic values in society.
The EaP CSF reiterates that people detained and criminally charged for participation in peaceful assemblies or for exercising their right to
freedom of expression and thought are prisoners of conscience. Similar incidents in the country clearly demonstrate that repressions are occurring and that the state authorities are deviating from the principles of democracy.
The EaP CSF calls on the authorities of the Republic of Armenia to:
- Release all prisoners detained while exercising their right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression immediately and unconditionally;
- Hold accountable the law enforcement officers and all other state officials for the brutal and mass violations of human rights during the events of July 2016;
- Ensure that the principles of the right to a fair trial are unconditionally applied to all persons facing criminal chargesfor the events of July 2016.
The EaP CSFcalls on the European Union, the Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations to:
- Demand the release of all prisoners of conscience as a precondition or the establishment and further development of relations with the Republic of Armenia;
- Ensure consistency in taking tangible and meaningful measures towards human rights protection;
- Insist on the necessity to establish practical mechanisms for the operation of principles of transparency and accountability in the sphere of the judiciary as a main component of the cooperation agenda;
- Establish effective guarantees for the right to freedom of speech and for the full manifestation of pluralism.
on the case of Stepan Grigoryan
November 29, 2016, Brussels
Based on the 16 September 2016 Statement issued by the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum states:
On 30 August 2016 in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport the border guards of the Russian Federation arrested Stepan Grigoryan, an active 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 the 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.
The Russian authorities’ groundless and unlawful actions restricting the right to free movement of citizens of the Republic of Armenia are politically motivated, as Stepan Grigoryan actively cooperates with European non-governmental organizations as the head of the Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation, and does not conceal the fact that his organisation envisages the future of the Armenian people as part of the family of European countries built on democratic values. Stepan Grigoryan does not engage in any activity in the Russian Federation, and his cooperation, in Armenia or elsewhere, with international organizations recognized as “undesirable” on the territory of Russia should not have given cause to prevent his private visit and the subsequent ban on his entry to the Russian Federation until 2030.
It is not the first time that Armenian civil society representatives have been targeted by Russian state or non-state actors of late.
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum condemns the unlawful action of the Russian state authorities against Stepan Grigoryan.
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum demands that the authorities of the Russian Federation cease intervening in the domestic affairs of neighbouring countries and imposing unlawful sanctions against their citizens according to their political views and civic activity.
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum calls on the diplomatic service of Armenia to demonstrate adherence to democratic/these principles and consistency in the protection of the violated rights of the RA citizens.
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum suggests that the representatives of its member and partner organizations reconsider the appropriateness of visiting Russia, as well as using airports in the Russian Federation as transit zones.