MR. HOVHANNES HOVHANNISYAN`S LETTER

04.02.2013

Krzysztof Bobinski
Acting chairman, Steering Committee
Civil Society Forum
Eastern Partnership
Dear Mr. Bobinski,
Thank you for such a fast reaction to the Statement of the Committee on Civil Society Development of the Public Council of the RA of 16.01.2013.
Reading your letter attentively and analyzing it I became confident that incomplete and erroneous information about the Public Council and its latest initiatives was presented within the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.
Let’s agree that the non-government organizations involved in the Public Council, one of which I have the honor to represent, could not come up with initiatives restraining their opportunities and limiting their rights. That would mean hara-kiri and would be absurd.
My colleagues and I have always acted from the position of strengthening civil society organizations in Armenia.
Specifically, our Committee consistently voiced sharp criticism and demonstrated refusal concerning the amendments in the RA “Law on Public Organizations” drafted by the Ministry of Justice of the RA back in 2009, some clauses of which envisaged additional bureaucratic and financial burden for non-government organizations. We also held expertise and presented a negative conclusion on the RA Government decision No1042-N of August 5 2010, which, bypassing RA Constitution and some legislative norms, intended to form a new controlling department within the Ministry of Justice empowering it with rather broad authorities. On that occasion we received critical responses from the authorities and support from several CSOs. Nevertheless, it was due to our consistency that the above mentioned draft law was not adopted. Instead, it underwent essential changes and is still under parliamentary discussions and the RA Government decision, which we consider comprises certain dangers for the development of CSOs in Armenia, was reviewed and suspended. Colleagues initiating the Stockholm Statement are well aware of these and many other our initiatives.
As to your and some Armenian colleagues’ concerns about a certain expression regarding the part of the “Strategy Concept of Development of Civil Society Organizations in the RA”
(consisting of 33 points and sub-points) interpreting relations between government bodies and CSOs (where those relations are viewed in the context of universal principles of checks and balances and social partnership), then I assure you even if we considered it disputable, and even if we removed it from the text, the necessity, significance and value of the Concept would not suffer at all.
Thus, I believe it unacceptable that some of our colleagues would speak about any constructive initiative with condemning expressions from the very outset; that they attempt to declare any subject of the civil society “offside” or to privatize and monopolize that sphere, and similar manipulations.
Protecting our views, we in no case seek biblical immunity for the documents, namely the Draft Concept developed by us. We would be grateful to you and our colleagues for any remarks, any definite content proposal improving the Draft.
My colleagues’ and my work aims solely to develop democracy, a rule of law state, civil society in Armenia. We would like to be sure we may anticipate the support of EU structures and their Armenian colleagues for that end.
Best regards,
Hovhannes Hovhannisyan
Chairman of the Committee on Civil Society
Development of the Public Council of the RA,
caucasus_ngo@yahoo.com
h_hovhannisyan@publiccouncil.am

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