At the Media Center hosted discussion Andrej Didenko, Political Officer at the European Delegation to Armenia, said: “Armenia made limited progress in the implementation of the action plan, with some efforts to establish deep and sustainable democracy and put some microeconomic policies and structural reforms in place.”
Didenko noted “the lack of trust in the judicial system persisted; the fight against corruption remains as one of the key issues. When it comes to judicial reforms, we have noticed the progress with regard to free legal aid.”
The civil society representatives in Armenia, however, believe it vital for the new EU-Armenia partnership format to have more well-specified interim and long-term evaluation criteria for funding.
Mariam Matevosyan, Policy Fellowship Program Coordinator at OSI-Armenia, described the European Partnership policy less compelling which, she believes has led to the manipulation of reforms in Armenia. The areas where the manipulation is observed more often embrace corruption, discrimination and domestic violence. One of the possible reasons for this situation is that the domestic violence law on is not seen as a priority. “There is a discrepancy between priorities and results. And the same persists in the enactment of laws on corruption or gender equality.”
Nvard Margaryan, representative of the Coalition to Stop Violence against Women, told the journalists that unlike the other fields, the fields of domestic violence and gender equality have well-developed evaluation criteria. “What they lack is the legislation which will prevent domestic violence and set of mechanisms which will regulate the legal equality of women and men. So far there have been only discussions on these issues,” Margaryan said.
The Armenian authorities often state that the proposed constitutional reforms will lead to the institutional improvement of the judicial system in the country while Anahit Chilingaryan, Coordinator of HCA-Vanadzor Civil Initiatives and Advocacy Department, disagrees with such an approach. “Actually, it is possible to pave the way for the independence of judges without any constitutional reforms by merely amending the Judicial Code. Thus, it is wrong to abuse the notion of constitutional reforms in this regard,” Chilingaryan said.
With respect to the human rights policy adopted by the Armenian Government, Chilingaryan said a number of norms and provisions have been included and defined less precisely than required. The norms encompass the adoption of anti-discrimination law, establishment of the institute of Military Ombudsman, etc.
The reforms regarding anti-corruption struggle, as well as the Election Code require “evaluation criteria with quality and non-formal, said Varuzhan Hoktanyan, Executive Director of the Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center. “Actually, the adoption of progressive laws is important but we have to cope with the problem of practicing laws. According to international estimates, Armenia is a semi-authoritarian state and, in this regard, it is the political will which matters,” Hoktanyan said.
The evaluation criteria are clear and developed through discussions, with reforms being carried out in the areas selected with the Armenian Government, Didenko stressed. “We cannot change the authorities. And we agree on the selected areas with the Government. For example, last year we financially supported reforms in the justice system. Civil society representatives attended the meeting of the reforms coordination council in the late 2014. The evaluation showed a number of conditions were not met. Eventually, the Government did not get the funding which had been previously allocated for the given reforms.”
Arshaluys Mghdesyan, Editor-Coordinator
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