YEREVAN — The Council of Europe Action Plan for Armenia 2023-2026 was officially launched on February 16 in Yerevan.
The main beneficiaries of the program are citizens of Armenia. It is aimed at priority sectors such as the protection of rights of women and children and other vulnerable groups, protection of human rights in the armed forces, fight against corruption, judicial reforms and others.
Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Bjørn Berge participated in the event.
“The action plan is a key instrument in the ambitious reforms agenda of the Armenian government aimed at the further development of democratic institutions in line with European standards, establishment of an independent judiciary and strengthening of anti-corruption institutions,” Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan said at the event.
The Foreign Minister said the positive reaction from stakeholders on the previous actions plans is “promising, and at the same time obligating” in terms of setting a higher bar for the implementation of this action plan. In this regard the Foreign Minister reaffirmed the Armenian government’s unconditional commitment to the principles and values of the Council of Europe, which are stipulated in the Armenian government’s program.
“The commitment and political will of the government are of key importance for reforms. At the same time, cooperation with international partners is highly important for having sustainable success and tangible results,” FM Mirzoyan said, expressing gratitude to Armenia’s friends and colleagues who united their efforts to support the Armenian government’s ambitious reforms agenda.
FM Mirzoyan emphasized that Armenia highly appreciates the voluntary investments by traditional partners, the EU, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, Denmark, also Austria, Germany, Belgium and Romania and other countries and organizations, who supplement the institutional capabilities and experience of the Council of Europe.
“We are pleased to note that the positive experience in implementing the previous action plans developed the conviction among our partners that the main beneficiaries of these programs are the citizens of Armenia, programs which are aimed at priority sectors such as social justice, the rights of women and children and other vulnerable groups, human rights protection in the armed forces, the fight against corruption, judicial reforms, de-centralization and promotion of local self-government,” the FM said.
Mirzoyan emphasized the high level of cooperation between the Armenian government and the Council of Europe and the flexibility displayed in matching the action plan with the needs and priorities of the government.
Mentioning the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno Karabakh resulting from the Azerbaijani blockade of Lachin corridor, and Azerbaijani occupation of sovereign territories of Armenia, FM Mirzoyan emphasized that despite those actions aimed against Armenia and its democracy and the existing difficult challenges, Armenia remains committed to its values and continues strengthening democratic institutions in cooperation with the Council of Europe. “Democracy is irreversible in Armenia,” the FM said.
Before the event, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Bjørn Berge held a meeting to discuss the broad range of issues of the cooperation agenda.
Bjørn Berge said the launch of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Armenia 2023-2026 is yet another step in the positive journey that Armenia and the Council of Europe are taking together.
“The action plan we are launching today and the proactive approach of the Armenian authorities are very great samples of what must be done in practice all over Europe. Of course, the action plan is only a part, but a very important part of the overall cooperation between the Council of Europe and Armenia,” the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe said.
He said that Armenia has been a member of the Council of Europe for more than two decades and has continually made important contributions in the organization, and at the same time benefited from the organization’s expertise and joint cooperation.
He said it has been interesting to follow the evolution of the relationship and new initiatives over the years, including major reforms.
“The Council of Europe has very much appreciated the excellent cooperation with Armenia and the progress made in several areas, at least through the most recent joint action plan which concluded last year. What has been achieved within that framework is substantial and significant,” Berge added, noting the new, improved Judicial Code and Criminal Code, the anti-corruption strategy and other reforms of key importance. “The new action plan we are launching today is designed to help Armenia take further steps forward in dealing with them.”
The action plan includes new areas of cooperation in the plan, such as freedom of expression, also for the media, measures to protect personal data, social and labor rights, environment, good governance, local government reforms, joint fight against cybercrime and other areas.
“Overall it is intended to make life better for the people of this great country, underpinned by the commitment from the Armenian authorities and with the support and cooperation of the Council of Europe. Looking back, much has been achieved in this country in recent times, but together we can achieve yet more. I am very grateful to the Armenian authorities for their firm determination and political commitment , as well as to the EU and all the partners and donors who are providing the financial support required,” Berge said.