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Meeting of the Aarhus Centers Representatives with the Minister of Nature Protection

On July 10, the Armenian Aarhus Centers employees met with Mr. A. Grigoryan, Minister of Nature Protection, the meeting also was attended by Economic and Environmental Programme Officers at the OSCE Office in Yerevan, National Focal Point for the Aarhus Convention, Deputy Ministers as well as employees of the Ministry.
In his opening remarks, the Minister highlighted the importance of raising public awareness on environmental issues, in terms of implementing targeted and effective policy. The latter welcomed the activity of the Aarhus Centers, their active participation in the laws development process, in favor of completeness of new laws and effectively

serving those to people.
Mr. T. Dembski, Economic and Environmental Programme Officer at the OSCE Office in Yerevan expressing gratitude for the meeting, spoke about the effective activity of the centers, pointing out that by the 57 OSCE member states the Armenian Aarhus Centers program was estimated as the best one and the centers experience serves as an example for both the countries already having and intending to create Aarhus Centers.

Ms. G. Ghazinyan, Environmental Programmes Officer at the OSCE Office in Yerevan, spoke about the fact that initially the agreement has been reached on transferring the Aarhus Centers operation and maintenance care entirely to the government after 3 years since the establishment, but for some reasons the process has been delayed and the OSCE Office in Yerevan is involuntary continuing to provide financial support to the centers, taking into account those great role in democracy-building and supporting the implementation of the Aarhus Convention in Armenia. The latter also noted that they have presented their observations regarding the project submitted to the Ministry of Nature Protection of the RA on giving the centers legal-organizational form of the fund and hope that the process will enter a new phase.

The employees of the Aarhus Centers presented their proposals in regard to the fund creation. Ms. M. Chakryan, Armenian Aarhus Centers Press Officer noted that in other countries the centers are operating on the basis of government, on behalf of the ministries dealing with the environment, or non-governmental organizations, and the pledge of success of the Armenian Aarhus Centers is that they did not have any status and served as an intermediate link between the government and the public.

Mr. N. Poghosyan, coordinator of Goris Aarhus Center mentioned that in participation with equal rights of government-society could be created a new level of management: “the Armenian model.”
Mr. A. Grigoryan, minister of Nature Protection, affirming willingness to support the centers proposed to organize professional discussions concerning the issue in the future and submit the amended draft.
Mr. G. Petrosyan, coordinator of Gyumri Aarhus Center mentioned that access to information is only a mechanism for participation, while currently the public participation has a formal character, there are no legal mechanisms to influence on the final decisions and the new EIA law draft does not only allow these opportunities, but also makes a mess.

Mr. S. Papyan, first Deputy Minister disagreed, assuring that the new draft law is a step forward, and in which are taken into account the decisions of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee.
The Aarhus Centers coordinators presented to the minister a number of other issues related to the properly informing the public on the processes carrying out in the field of environment, public participation, oversight mechanisms in the field of environmental legislation and nature utilization.

Mr. A. Grigoryan, minister of Nature Protection, informed about making stricter maintaining the environmental norms and oversight legislative mechanisms offering to arm themselves with patience and be tolerant until the implementation of reforms, highlighted the need for joint efforts to solve the problems of the sector.

Mary Chaqryan
Armenian Aarhus Centers Press Officer
Tell: 010 551364
E-mail: aarhusnews@gmail.com

Translated by Anush Beybutyan