On 17-18 February 2012 the EU Advisory Group organised a seminar on Participatory Democracy: the Role of Civil Society. The objective of the seminar was to provide Armenian counterparts with clear guidelines on how to encourage interaction between civil society and state institutions in accordance with EU best practices. The seminar brought together representatives of civil society, state institutions and international organizations.
Civil society in most EU member states expresses its opinion through the National Economic and Social Committees/Councils. The Economic and Social Committees are consultative bodies where civil society is represented. They provide state institutions with a common opinion on different government bills and draft presidential or parliamentary legislative initiatives. In Armenia the Public Council of the Republic of Armenia has a representative function, which could be further enhanced.
“We hope this discussion will encourage Armenia's civil society to become more active and organised, while providing the Public Council of Armenia with guidelines for reform”, said Mr. Onno Simons, Head of Political, Economic, Press and Information Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia.
The aim of the seminar was to improve the understanding of the role and functions of state consultative bodies, which represent civil society in EU member states, as well as to promote public discussions on how this model could be implemented in Armenia. During the seminar participants discussed the nature, structure and activities of consultative bodies; they identified relevant models and described a possible Armenian Economic and Social Committee/Council.
The seminar was opened by Mr. Onno Simons representing the EU Delegation to Armenia, Mr. Samvel Nikoyan, President of the National Assembly, Mr. Artur Baghdasaryan, Secretary of the RA National Security Council, Mr. Khosrov Harutyunyan, member of the Public Council in Armenia and Mr. Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, Chairman of the Committee of Civil Society Development of the Public Council of Armenia. It was conducted by Professor Franck Debie, an expert with extensive experience in this field both as a university lecturer and as a consultant to the Economic and Social Committee of France. The two-day event took place in Yerevan, Armenia.