On October 5, 2017 a meeting of the Armenian Delegates to the EaP CSF Tallinn Annual Assembly was held at Best Western Congress Hotel Yerevan. The discussion of several documents to be presented at the EaP CSF Annual Assembly, as well as the position of the Armenia delegation on a number of issues was on the agenda of the meeting.
A preliminary election of Country Facilitator was conducted by the ANP members. Boris Navasardian, President of Yerevan Press Club, was the only candidate nominated and received 17 votes in favor out of 18 delegates taking part in the voting. One ballot was considered invalid.
Kick-off Meeting held in Yerevan
On October 3, 2017 at Best Western Congress Hotel, Yerevan the kick-off meeting of EU-Armenian Civil Society Cooperation group took place. The aim of the event was to enhance the advocacy capacities of the Armenian civil society and in particular that of EaP CSF Armenian National Platform contributing to the reform agenda developed in the frames of EU-Armenia partnership, as well as to improve the level of cooperation with European CSOs. H.E. Piotr Antoni Świtalski, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, attended the event and made an opening remark.
- Enabling Environment for the Meaningful Participation of the Civil Society in Reforms Promotion
Speakers: Aurelija Olendraite, Director of NGO Law Institute (Lithuania) and Armen Grigoryan, Programmes and Communication Associate at Eurasia Partnership Foundation Armenia
- Diversity and Gender Equality
Speakers: Milica Pesic, Executive Director of Media Diversity Institute (UK) and Gohar Shahnazaryan, Co-founder of Women’s Resource Center NGO Armenia
- Good Governance and Fight against Corruption
Speakers: Goran Forbici, Director of Centre for Information Service, Co-operation and Development of NGOs (Slovenia) and Liana Ghaltaghchyan, Public Policy Analyst at Transparency International-Armenia
- Media as a Trigger for the EaP Progress: Armenian Case (Outcomes of the EaP Media Conference 2017 in Kiev on September 12-13)
Speakers: Krzysztof Bobinski, President of Unia & Polska Foundation (Poland) and Boris Navasardian, President of Yerevan Press Club
The event was also attended by representatives of diplomatic missions and Armenian media. It was moderated by Haykuhi Harutyunyan, CSF Steering Committee member and President of Protection of Rights without Borders NGO. At the end of the event a summary speech was delivered by Line Urban, International Aid/Cooperation Officer at the EU Delegation to Armenia.
On September 29, 2017 at Goris Press Club the members of the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform met with representatives of Goris civil society. Boris Navasardian, EaP CSF Armenian Country Facilitator and Heriknaz Harutyunyan, Executive Director of ANP Secretariat presented to the representatives of local NGOs and journalists the history of foundation of Armenian National Platform, main spheres of ANP activities and the procedure of ANP membership.
At the suggestion of Susanna Shahnazaryan, President of Goris Press Club the discussion mainly focused on the issues related to the access to information in Syunik region. The meeting participants also touched upon the issues of efficient use of the ANP resources to promote the activity of civil society in the regions.
The EaP CSF Armenian National Platform considers unacceptable the disrespectful and irresponsible attitude of TLScontact Visa Application Centre in Armenia towards the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, and in particular the representatives of civil society.
We must note that in this centre, which handles visa applications for Italy and the United Kingdom, the representatives of the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform member CSOs have faced lack of communication and feedback, as well as irregular queues and technical errors, for which their staff does not bear any responsibility.
Thus, many of our citizens and partners have become victims of the mentioned irresponsible and unprofessional work of the TLScontact Visa Application Center and the UK Visa and Immigration Agency (UKVI), and have not been returned their passports for almost 1 month. The visa applicants are mostly young people, students, civil society activists, which due to these “technical errors” have been deprived of work or study visit opportunities, suffering financial and moral damages.
The EaP CSF Armenian National Platform considers this situation unacceptable and calls on the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Armenia and the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene in the situation, to express an official position and ensure that the TLScontact Visa Application Centre and the UK Visa and Immigration Agency issue a public apology for their disrespectful and irresponsible attitude towards RA citizens, as well as compensate their financial damages.
The EaP CSF Armenian National Platform has to state with regret that the issue, which resulted in this statement, is not a singular case. The behaviour of Visa Application Centres (the commercial partners of the EU member states in Armenia) and their employees negatively affects the image of the European Union in Armenia and runs contrary to the spirit of the Visa Facilitation Agreement, as well as the expectations regarding its practical implementation.