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Joint EuFoA-AGBU Roundtable Briefing with the Armenian Ombudsman

On 16 November 2010, European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA) and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU, held a joint policy briefing at EuFoA's Brussels office with Mr Armen Harutyunyan, Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia and Ms Jacqueline Hale (Open Society Institute) as discussant. The NGOs and think tanks present commended the Ombudsman's contribution to the democratisation process in Armenia and his frank and credible analysis.

The effective establishment and functioning of the Ombudsman institution in Armenia is a sign of democratic progress in Armenia; however, as in most post-Soviet countries, there are still a number of systemic obstacles impeding the transition to democracy. Although its Constitution and legal system formally reflect democratic principles and the free-market economy, Armenia is a de facto strong presidential system with a largely oligarchic economy. Furthermore, the country is still suffering from an ideological vacuum, which the opposition is unable to fill. Ordinary citizens are therefore losing faith in the political system as a mechanism for reform and corruption is becoming entrenched.

The human rights situation in Armenia has improved over the last three years; Armenian legislation has been brought closer to European standards and the political system in Armenia is more progressive than those in Azerbaijan or the Central Asian Republics. The positive developments were facilitated by the election of a more open president; but since the institutional system remains largely unaltered advances are not fully sustainable and may be reversed. If Armenia is to continue to progress democratically, the country must undergo a process of total systemic reform.

Published on Tuesday 16 November 2010