Union of Informed Citizens and Freedom House convene the Armenian Forum for Democracy

On May 31, the second Armenian Forum for Democracy organized by the international human rights organization Freedom House and the Union of Informed Citizens NGO was held in Yerevan. The event was attended by RA President Vahagn Khachaturyan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, President of Freedom House Michael Abramowitz, about 190 representatives of the executive and legislative authorities of Armenia, diplomatic corps, as well as civil society.

“It is no secret that in the presence of external challenges, the Karabakh issue, democracy has been subordinated to security issues for years in our country. The establishment of democratic institutions was ignored at the highest level, and an attempt was made to present it as a threat. I want to emphasize that such a contradistinction opposition is not only ungrounded, but on the contrary, democracy is one of the primary guarantees of the strength of the state,” said the President of the Republic in his welcoming speech.

During the panel discussion, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan noted that there is no internal threat to democracy in Armenia, and that all possible threats are external, which are well-known and visible to everyone. “Democracy is the main brand of Armenia,” said Prime Minister Pashinyan.

Referring to the security issues, the prime minister noted that the lack of democracy or the attitude towards democracy in Armenia for many years served as a tool to ensure that the Nagorno Karabakh issue is not accessible to everyone.

“Why couldn’t the democratic government avoid the war? Because the government faced truth about Nagorno Karabakh, the extent of which was first of all indigestible for the government who had come from the streets and even more indigestible for the public,” said Pashinyan.

Freedom House President Michael Abramovitz thanked the President and Prime Minister of Armenia for participating in the event. He noted that although democracy is in retreat in the world, Armenia is a pleasant exception in that regard.

“Authoritarian countries are trying to suppress democracy. Democracy is not only about free activities and free elections. Freedom of speech and religious freedom are also important… There is still a demand for democracy, it is not gone,” Abramovitz emphasized.

During the discussion on human rights, HRD Anahit Manasyan noted that the main problem in the public environment at the moment is the atmosphere of extreme intolerance. The head of the EU office in Armenia, Ambassador Andrea Viktorin, emphasized that Armenia has chosen a path of democracy, which also means human rights protection.

“Given the difficult security situation Armenia is in, the population here needs to be resilient, and we support those regions where we see security challenges,” Ambassador Wiktorin said.

At the discussion dedicated to the anti-corruption reform, the Minister of Finance of Armenia, Vahe Hovhannisyan, emphasized the importance of enhancing the participation of civil society in decision-making in public finance. The minister also noted that in the near future the Ministry of Finance will start to evaluate the cost-efficiency of the government programs.

The Chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Committee, Sasun Khachatyan, stated in the same discussion that the fight against corruption in Armenia has been put on institutional foundations. Khachatryan also mentioned that from now on corruption in the education sector will be the focus of the Anti-Corruption Committee.

During the forum, there were also discussions dedicated to the fight against disinformation and public policy related to the media.

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