“Pro-Democratia: Youth Seminar for Democracy and Civil Society Reinforcement” took place in Yerevan on May 20-24 in the framework of AGBU Europe’s “Goriz” program. Funded by the “Youth in Action” program of the European Commission “Goriz” aims to develop new projects encouraging active participation of youth in civil society. Organized by AGBU France in partnership with AGBU Armenian Representation, ACAB (Spain), HAIK (Germany), Inside Europe (Belgium), SIVAM (Russia), AGBU Sofia (Bulgaria), AGBU Damascus (Syria) and Jamanak (Turkey), this year “Goriz” brought together 20 young Armenians from EU countries including France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Bulgaria, as well as EU neighboring partner countries such as Armenia, Russian Federation, Syria and Turkey.

The seminar was presided over by AGBU Europe Chairman Alexis Govciyan, who was recently elected member of the regional council of Ile de France (Paris and surrounding). Among the guest speakers of the seminar were First Counselor and Head of the Political, Economic, Press and Information Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia Onno Simons, RA President’s Deputy Chief of Staff Vigen Sargsyan, RA Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakossian, RA Human Rights Defender Armen Harutiunian, Former RA Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, AGBU Europe Board member and responsible for relations with EU institutions Nicolas Tavitian (Belgium), “Youth in Action” trainers Rousanna Ivanyan (Russia) and Areg Tadevosyan (Armenia). The lectures and discussions raised issues of active involvement of youth in different European projects, development of the ombudsman’s institution in Armenia, Armenia-Diaspora relations and Armenia’s foreign policy.

On May 21, the participants of the seminar were received by the RA Diaspora Minister Hranoush Hakobian, who welcomed the guests and made a short introduction of the current strong relations between the Ministry and AGBU, the activities and future projects of the Ministry. She encouraged the youth to be more active in politics and bring their contribution to the development of their homeland.

On May 22, the group visited Tsitsernakabert and laid flowers at the Genocide Memorial to honor the memory of the innocent victims, followed by a tour in the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute (AGMI) and a meeting with the Director of AGMI Hayk Demoyan.

On May 23, the “Goriz” team headed by AGBU Europe Chairman Alexis Govciyan, AGBU Armenian Representation Director Ashot Ghazarian and AGBU Europe Board member Nicolas Tavitian paid a visit to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and were received by the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II. His Holiness emphasized the importance of similar programs and urged the Armenian youth to get more actively involved in the activities of the Armenian Apostolic Church in their respective communities. As His Holiness noted, the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian General Benevolent Union have the same mission in preservation of Armenian national and spiritual values.

His Holiness called upon the youth to cooperate with the Mother See in their career development and expressed readiness to employ young Diaspora-Armenians, both for spiritual service and in other church structures, who could contribute favorably to the Armenian Church.

On May 24, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia Hovik Abrahamyan received the “Goriz” delegates. Welcoming the guests the National Assembly Speaker congratulated Mr. Govciyan on his recent election as a member of the Ile de France regional council in France. Hovik Abrahamyan spoke about the important mission of the Armenian General Benevolent Union. “AGBU initiatives and programs are an invaluable contribution in the preservation of the Armenian identity in the Diaspora and Armenia”, said the NA Speaker.

He also emphasized the importance of AGBU Europe’s “Goriz” program. “Armenian parliament has young members who quite actively participate in the legislative procedure. There is an intention to initiate a youth parliament as well”, said Mr. Abrahamyan. Speaker of the National Assembly introduced the structure and activity of the RA Parliament, referred to the Armenian-Turkish relations and the regulation processes of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

The Armenian youth also had a chance to get acquainted with the cultural life of Armenia.

“Goriz” is the initiative of AGBU Europe and aims to unite Armenian youth living in different countries of the world, reinforce dialogue between the youth and the decision makers, encourage active participation of youth in civil society, discover new leaders in different Armenian communities in Europe, and develop a firm network of future Armenian leaders around the world.



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