EaP CSF Armenian National Platform
On the Publication of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the European Union
Armenian National Platform of the EaP Civil Society Forum welcomes the publication of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the European Union, submitted to the Council of the European Union for a decision.
We consider this step as evidence of an efficient negotiation process and display of complete mutual understanding and interest on both sides in deepening the bilateral cooperation and giving a legally-binding nature to the latter.
We are convinced that the opportunity to get acquainted with the content of the document will contribute to the increase of public interest in the relations between the European Union and Armenia, becoming a convincing response to the manipulations by the opponents of the reforms within the framework of this partnership.
We welcome the recognition of the role of civil society in the Agreement with the purpose to create a civil society platform composed of civil society organizations, networks and platforms, including the representatives of the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform.
We call on the authorities of the EU member states and the Republic of Armenia to sign the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the European Union in the earliest possible time and immediately proceed with its practical implementation.
We demand from the Armenian authorities to display a more consistent and responsible approach to the implementation of the reforms envisaged by the cooperation agenda with the EU, activation of dialogue with civil society and tangible engagement of the latter in decision-making.
We call the EU institutions’ attention to the necessity of principled approaches towards the execution of joint projects with Armenia, unconditional implementation of efficient accountability mechanisms envisaged by the Agreement, promotion of openness and transparency of the official entities when dealing with the public.
For its part, Armenian National Platform commits itself to the elaboration of development priorities and monitoring of the accomplishment of commitments to the reforms in various sectors of the country’s life, seeking understanding and wide support by the citizens aimed at the implementation of the Agreement and strengthening of cooperation with partners from the EU and EaP countries to jointly find solutions to various issues.
adopted by Creative Europe Forum
The Statement below on Armenia’s full accession to the EU Creative Europe Porgramme was adopted within the framework of “Creative Europe Forum” project. The project was carried out by “Golden Apricot” Fund for Cinema Development within the EaP Civil Society Forum’s Re-Granting Scheme in partnership with International Foundation LEA (Georgia) and Internews-Ukraine. The Statement was initiated by the participants of the July 12-14, 2017 Forum in the frames of “Golden Apricot” International Film Festival.
On behalf of more than 60 participants, Creative Europe Forum highly appreciates the European Union “Creative Europe” Programme which comprises of two major sub-programmes – Culture and Media. Within the framework of “Creative Europe” the EU provides substantial funds to contribute to the enhancement of participant countries’ cultures (total budget of the Programme for the EU and the EaP countries for 2014-2020 period is 1.46 billion EUR).
Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova from EaP region have already joined the Programme in 2015 – and this gave an impetus to development of creative industries in these countries. This should have served an example to Armenia authorities. In November 2015 a special Statement on Armenia’s joining the Creative Europe Programme has been adopted by the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform which was addressed to Armenian authorities and which contained an insistent call for an immediate adhesion to the Programme. However, despite this fact Armenia neither in 2016 nor in 2017 acceded to the Programme – and it had a negative effect on the development of the creative sector in the country.
Though, according to the statement of an official representative of the Ministry of Culture of RA made during the Forum – Armenia will accede to the Creative Europe Programme early in 2018 under the Culture sub-programme. However, this does not fully reflect expectations and needs of professional creative organizations in the country – in such situation they are left without access to the considerable sources of financing.
In such specific situation it considers absolutely evident and highly important that Armenia should become a full participant in both sub-programmes of the “Creative Europe” Programme.
Creative Europe Forum’s participants urge the Armenian government listen to the demands of creative non-governmental organizations and creative industry professionals to ensure all the necessary conditions for Armenia’s full participation in the Creative Europe Programme under the both components (Culture and Media) so that Armenian organizations operating in the field of culture could apply for the upcoming grant competition expected in the beginning of 2018. The successful projects will not only provide fresh momentum to the development of culture and media culture in Armenia, but also create new opportunities for a mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and the relevant organizations of the Eastern Partnership Countries.
EaP CSF Armenian National Platform
On the current state of the local self-government system of the Republic of Armenia and the ongoing reforms
The member organizations of the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform regularly review the progress of reforms implemented in the local self-government system of the Republic of Armenia. As a result periodic analyses are made and are presented to the RA relevant authorities, as well as are publicized through the media. One of these analyses was presented on September 11, 2017 at the conference of the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform on “Civil society engagement in the administrative-territorial reforms in Armenia”.
The following conclusions were recorded during that discussion:
- the Republic of Armenia is one of the countries with the lowest level of decentralization, despite the fact that the local authorities are the closest to the people and they should have a wide range of competences and powers as well as sufficient financial resources to implement them;
- administrative-territorial reforms launched as a long process of research, discussions, based on the rules and requirements set out in the adopted concept, have been transformed into a large-scale and spontaneous political program, which is implemented without compromising the “game rules” defined by the concept and without taking into account the lessons learned;
- maps and list of the newly formed municipalities are extremely subjective, and the absence of logic suggests that they were drawn “behind the closed doors”;
- there are no guarantees for identity preservation of the settlements included in the enlarged municipalities and for assurance of proportion of their needs and the existing resources within the municipality;
- no practical steps have been taken to establish inter-municipal unions;
- the transition to the system of proportional representation in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor municipalities suggests the transition to this in the entire system of local self-government. Being elected by the community council, mayor loses the obligation to be responsible and accountable to municipality residents;
- the existing procedure of community council election does not provide an opportunity for the nomination of civic initiatives and groups of individuals, who do not wish to appear in any political union. It was clearly stated in the Venice Commission’s recommendations on the Electoral Code of the Republic of Armenia in regard to it;
- there is no clear vision for local self-government in Armenia, as a result there is no clear understanding of the minimum effective size of the newly created municipality and the acceptable level of the decentralization of powers. There is no “decentralization roadmap”, which clearly states the terms and the scope of powers delegated to municipalities and inter-municipal unions.
Taking into consideration the above mentioned, the EaP CSF Armenian National Platform considers it necessary to demand from the Armenian Authorities:
- immediately present to the public a preliminary map of the new administrative division of the RA, according to which the reform process will be implemented;
- each step taken within the administrative reform should be brought into a discussion among civil society, affected municipalities and other stakeholders;
- develop and put into practice a tool that will enable settlements included in a multi-settlement municipality to preserve their identity by ensuring the proportion between their needs and existing resources within municipality;
- develop a new empowerment strategy or roadmap for municipalities with indicated detailed steps and clear timeframes for decentralization of powers;
- use the institute of inter-municipal unions in the decentralization process;
- form an election system that will enable civic initiatives to run for community council elections and ensure their presence in the Community Council while not being included in any political union;
- get rid of the vicious experience of electing a mayor by the community council.