Executive Body and Secretariat
March 20, 2018
Restating the high appreciation – repeatedly emphasized by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) and Armenian National Platform (ANP) – of the role ascribed to the civil society in the frames of the European Union’s “Eastern Partnership” initiative, we at the same time express our deep concern over the lack of opportunities for implementing the activities envisaged by the mission, commitment and the organizational principles of the Armenian National Platform.
In the last EaP Summit Declaration (Bruxelles, 24.11.2017) the importance for the Eastern Partnership of inclusive engagement with civil society, including through the Civil Society Forum, was reaffirmed.
The 20 EaP Deliverables for 2020 targeted in the Joint Staff Working Document (JSWD) of the European Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy include vibrant civil society as cross-cutting deliverable. Consistent EU support to the EaP Civil Society Forum and its National Platforms is underlined in the document.
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum is a permanent observer and the only civil society structure represented at EaP intergovernmental meetings of all levels.
The CEPA Agreement between the European Union and Armenia (signed on November 24, 2017) provides for establishment of bilateral Civil Society Platform as a forum to meet and exchange views, and the EaP CSF National Platform is mentioned there as one of the entities playing specific role in it.
To be an indispensable partner for the EU and RA government, a driver of reforms and promoter of accountability the ANP, as specified in many documents, needs to strengthen its technical expertise and management capacities.
In the course of the 8 years of its existence ANP has proved to be an active, inclusive body, where principled discussions, intensive communication take place, position with regard to the most topical issues of the country’s life is developed and publicized. Even in the period of ambiguity in the relations between the EU and RA (2013-2016) the Platform kept being attractive for organizations supporting the European choice of Armenia. Now they are 250, and only the Ukrainian Platform is more representative among the EaP countries.
In spite of the constant lack of resources, the ANP and its members provided their expert input in the agenda of democratic reforms in the country, search for better engagement of the Armenian civil society in decision-making processes and informing the public of the importance of cooperation between the EU and RA. In particular, yet before the signing of CEPA the Platform developed a collection of analytical pieces entitled “Agenda for Dialogue”, which contains situation analyses, detailed comments and recommendations on the implementation of the Eastern Partnership priorities in Armenia in light of CEPA and JSWD on 20 Deliverables for 2020. Consistent work has been carried out for the engagement of partners from the EU member states in the promotion of pro-European reforms in Armenia.
The new challenges facing the ANP are largely incompatible with the complete absence of funding for the Platform since October 2017. And no mode of support is envisaged until 2019. Similar difficulties have occurred in its activities before, but the ANP has never found itself in a situation, when there were no means even for holding the regular General Assemblies envisaged by its Organizational Principles. And this happens in a decisive period, when ANP is expected to have particular activity and significant contribution to the EU-Armenia cooperation agenda, which is considered by us as contrary to the interests of bilateral relations.
The fact that the actual freezing of the ANP activities takes place against the background of increased support by the European Union to the NGO sector of Armenia in general, does nothing to contribute to the consolidation of ANP members for the implementation of the common mission.
This statement should first of all be considered as clarification for the public, the partners and numerous members of the Platform on the reasons for the inactivity of the Executive Body and Secretariat of the ANP. Meanwhile, we reaffirm our readiness to make vigorous steps and come up with new initiatives, hoping that all those whom the solution of the issue depends on realize that this situation is unacceptable.