The Armenian Forum for Democracy Took Place

Today, on May 20, by the initiative of Freedom House and Union of Informed Citizens NGO, the Armenian Forum for Democracy was held in Yerevan to bring together all stakeholders in promoting democracy in Armenia to discuss the reform process and challenges.

RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered a special opening speech at the event. The participants of the event were also welcomed by Andrea Wiktorin, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, and Mark Behrendt, Director of Europe and Eurasia Programs of Freedom House. The forum was attended by the highest representatives of the legislative and judicial authorities, ambassadors, international human rights activists and representatives of Armenian civil society.

Welcoming the participants of the forum, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that the citizen is the most important institution of democracy in the Republic of Armenia. “Today, the citizen is the key guarantor of democracy in Armenia. This is due to the fact that the citizen of the Republic of Armenia knows that he is the main, key decision-making subject, as provided by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia,” Pashinyan said. The Prime Minister stressed that democracy needs to be institutionalized, that democracy is the most important mechanism of the country’s security and sovereignty.

In her opening speech, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin, noted that many countries seem to be experiencing a setback after a period of growing democratization around the world. “Armenia has also faced serious challenges such as the pandemic, the 44-day war, the post-war situation, and the impact of the recent war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine,” she said, adding that, nevertheless, Armenia has managed to preserve basic freedoms.

For his part, Mark Behrendt, Director of  Europe and Eurasia Programs of Freedom House, noted that despite these issues, Freedom House has recorded progress in promoting democracy and human rights in Armenia. “Nevertheless, we are concerned about the issue of criminalizing insults, which may restrict democracy and freedom of speech in Armenia,” said Mark Behrendt.

In the first part of the event, a panel discussion on issues related to the process of democratic reforms in Armenia took place in which the US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Armenia Lynne Tracey, RA Minister of Justice Karen Andreasyan, Head of Corruption Prevention Commission Haykuhi Harutyunyan, Head of RA Police Patrol Service Artur Umrshatyan, HCAV Representative Vardine Grigoryan took part.

During the second panel discussion the consolidation of democracy and human rights advocacy in Armenia were addressed regarding which Andrea Wiktorin, Mark Behrendt, RA Human Rights Defender Kristinne Grigoryan, Human Rights House Representative Ketevan Abashidze, and HCAV Director Arthur Sakunts expressed their dispositions and exchanged views.

In the final part of the forum, issues related to disinformation and media in Armenia were specifically discussed. RA NA Deputy Sisak Gabrielyan, OSCE Senior Advisor on Freedom of the Media Bettina Ruigies, Head of Commission on Television and Radio Tigran Hakobyan, Managing Director of Media Initiatives Center Nouneh Sargsyan, Editor-in-Chief at the Fact Investigation Platform Hakob Karapetyan expressed their views on the issue.

Freedom House and Union of Informed Citizens plan to make the Armenian Forum for Democracy an annual event.

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