The visit of the OSCE Special Representative for the South Caucasus to Dilijan Aarhus Center
From 15 to 17April, Ambassador Angelo Gnaedinger, the Special Representative of the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship for the South Caucasus paid a working visit to Armenia.
The three day full agenda also was included a visit to Dilijan Aarhus Center to get acquainted with the Aarhus Centers activities as well as to meet and listen the report of the OSCE Youth Ambassador N. Beglaryan.
The Ambassador A. Gnaedinger visited Dilijan Aarhus Center accompanied by L. Gasser, Swiss Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Armenia, T. Dembski, Economic and Environmental Programme
Officer at the OSCE Office in Yerevan, G. Ghazinyan, Environmental Programmes Officer at the OSCE Office in Yerevan as well as other employees of the Embassy and the OSCE Office in Yerevan. The meeting was also attended by employees and journalists of Yerevan, Dilijan, Gavar and Yeghvard Aarhus Centers.
The guests were welcomed by the mayor of Dilijan S. Santrosyan. The latter presented the key features of the town; in particular, today the resort town is also advancing as an educational and financial centre.
The mayor highlighted the activity of Dilijan Aarhus Centre, as it provides a platform to society, community representatives and municipal officials, where are constantly being discussed the issues of the town of Dilijan, coordinated decisions regarding the management of the city, the city’s budget, project expenditures and targeted actions.
The latter provided examples when as a result of the discussions held at the Aarhus Centre have been denied or suspended this or that initiative. The mayor expressed his gratitude to the OSCE in consistent supporting the Centres and the community democracy.
As mentioned by the Aarhus Centres coordinators the issues of public participation in the decision-making are priorities on the Centres agendas, but for making it more effective are necessary to enshrine the public participation procedure in the law.
On the question of the Ambassador A. Gnaedinger how the Centres have raised the issue on the political level, the Centres’ coordinators informed that the issue has been repeatedly submitted to the RA government, the NA Chairman and the Aarhus Convention Secretariat: the official correspondence is represented in the Aarhus Centres’ website.
Aarhus Centres coordinators presented that the Centres management is decentralized; each Centre is managed by its board of experts, composed equally of government officials and public professionals.
In the Aarhus Centres are being discussed all the major projects regarding the communities, in the decision-making are being taken into account the Centre’s raised issues, suggestions and especially the opinions of the Board of Experts.
The OSCE Youth Ambassador N. Beglaryan, who is as well the coordinator of Yeghegnadzor Aarhus Centre, presented complex information on the Aarhus Centres qualifying them as suppliers of democracy oxygen. He also informed about the activities, in which he is included as a youth ambassador, highlighting the opportunity for activation Vayots Dzor youth.
Then the latter touched upon the problematic issues related to the environmental conditions, about which recommendations were drawn up and submitted to the National Assembly and the Government, primarily related to the SHPPs negative impact on the communities, the environment, social and agricultural issues.
By the NA President addressed letter concern was expressed about the lack of provisions in the legislation on taking into account the public opinion, as a result of which permanent protests are taking place in the communities.
N. Baglaryan handed a letter containing the Aarhus Centres concerns to the Swiss ambassador addressed to D. Burkhalter, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.
The Ambassador A. Gnaedinger highlighted the Aarhus Centres activities, the atmosphere of cooperation and partnership mentioning that this experience should be submitted to the 57 OSCE member states as well as expressed hope for further cooperation.
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Translated by Anush Beybutyan