At the Core of the Armenian Aarhus Centers Coordination Meeting was the Centers Vision and Decision V / 9а of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee
Mr. Matthias Lichtenberger, Economic and Environmental Officer at the OSCE Office in Yerevan welcoming the participants stressed the importance of Aarhus Centres in the context of the creation of the 15-year cooperation with the Ministry of Nature Protection, which has had a significant impact in terms of involvement of stakeholders in addressing environmental issues.
The latter informed that the OSCE Office intends to continue to support the activities of the Aarhus Centers network. In the coming months, considering the possible organizational challenges related to the further activities of the centers as inevitable, marked
that an attempt will be made to overcome them through dialogue. He also noted that similar meetings of exchange of opinions and experience and contacts, can definitely contribute to the solution of the problems.
Mr. Khachik Hakobyan, Deputy-Minister of the Ministry of Nature Protection of the RA, in his opening remarks expressed hope for fruitful cooperation in the future.
Expressing gratitude for the good news, he mentioned that the ministry has started cooperation with the OSCE office in the field yet in 2002, when Armenia was beginner in the implementation of the Aarhus Convention. “Over the years, the Aarhus Centers have introduced a new culture and changed the stereotypes. I do not say the word stereotype accidentally, “he added, explaining that most of the environmental problems caused by stereotypes.
In the future activities of the Aarhus Centers, Khachik Hakobyan also highlighted the cooperation as a real guarantee of success. Urged to be constructive in all processes. “Apart from the ACs cannot be a better mechanism, this is a very good system, but the OSCE’s support should not be abused, as any assistance is temporary, it is important to consider all new possibilities for stabilization of the ACs.”
In his turn Mr. Lichtenberger agreed that maintaining the correct balance of funds in the future will maintain the independence of the centers.
During the discussion of working problems was also highlighted more active involvement of volunteers in the centers activity, for identifying their training needs and undertaking appropriate measures.
On the proposal of Mr. Matthias Lichtenberger, Economic and Environmental Officer at the OSCE Office in Yerevan, it was decided to create small groups in order to discuss ACs vision and objectives, legal status, fundraising issues and offer solutions.
Within the framework of the workshop was held a meeting with Khachatur Khachatryan, newly appointed Focal Point of the Aarhus Convention on access to information on the environment, public participation in decision-making and access to justice, head of the Legal Department of the RA Ministry of Nature Protection.
Within the framework of the implementation of the Aarhus Convention became a subject of debate especially the decision V / 9а of the Compliance Committee.
The Focal Point of the Convention informed that according to the order of the newly appointed Minister of Nature Protection immediate steps should be taken.
“In the issues set forth by the Decision V / 9а the jurisdiction of the Ministry on access to justice is limited, with regard to the EIA issues, should be tried to find mechanisms, which will be in line with both the Aarhus and Espoo Conventions and the Armenia’s internal policy,” he marked.
The representative of the “Center of Economic and Legal Analysis” NGO attended the meeting expressed willingness to assist in legal matters.
Taking into account that Armenia has a very short period of time until October 30 to rectify the legislation gaps set forth by the decision, the representatives of the Armenian Aarhus Centers, welcoming the Ministry’s willingness, decided to write a letter of support to extend the time given by the Secretariat of the Convention, in order that in accordance with the decisions reviews strict measures will not be taken towards Armenia and in April, 2017 in the 21st meeting of the Parties our country can be presented properly.
It was decided to discuss in parallel the problems occurred during the practice related to the organization of public hearings, conducting and providing feedback.
Prepared by Mari Chakryan
Translated by Anush Beybutyan