2009 Events Calendar
In the framework of NATO Week in Armenia, the Armenian Youth Atlantic Association with the financial assistance of the NATO PDD, International Center for Human Development and the USA Embassy in Armenia organized its already the 7th international youth event which was devoted to the 60th anniversary of the NATO. The seminar entitled “South Caucasus Youth Forum: NATO at 60, a New Start” took place in Yerevan, Armenia, from March 12-14, 2009.
The seminar was designed to be the traditional continuation of the previously held seminars in Armenia during the last six years. This year the participants of the seminar were young representatives from the following countries: Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Slovenia, Turkey, Latvia and from Armenia. This year our international youth event was devoted to some main issues: first- NATO’s 60th anniversary, second- relationships between South Caucasus and NATO and third- new Turkish-Armenian relationships.
One participant from Armenian Youth Atlantic Association (AYAA) participated in the Youth Forum “NATO in 2020: What Lies Ahead?” which took place in Strasbourg, France on April 1-4, 2009.
On May 30-31, 2009 the Armenian Atlantic Association and the Norwegian Atlantic Committee organized the seminar entitled “Environmental Security and Climate Change”. It took place in Yerevan, Armenia. The Norwegian Atlantic Committee will organize similar events in other former Soviet countries as well. Pollution is a major challenge, as with most former Soviet countries, and environmental security is of utmost importance as the region is an energy corridor for Europe. The main target of the project is to build regional networks, to enhance and strengthen the trans-national ties between the countries involved within the sphere of security policy, in order to build meaningful relations between the NGO community, young political leaders, journalists and young researchers. Around 40 young Armenians participated in this event. The seminar consisted from two parts: during the first part participants were informed about the main topics regarding nowadays environmental security and climate changes. The second part was a role game during which participants were representing several countries and international organizations. At the end of the game participants developed a communiqué which was sent to the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia.
An annual NATO Study Tour took place this year on 15th and 16th of June at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium. Six representatives from Armenia (one from the AYAA), along with 5 and 4 representatives from Azerbaijan and Georgia respectively, had a chance to discuss with different NATO officials current issues of Mass Media in the South Caucasus and recent changes in people's attitude towards NATO in three countries.
Two participants from Armenian Youth Atlantic Association Ms. Lika Mkrtchyan and Mr. Sergey Chamanyan left for Aalborg, Denmark on July 6-12, 2009 to participate in the Danish Atlantic Youth Seminar - DAYS 2009. The topic of the seminar was “Diplomacy and Crisis Management in the Backyard of Europe Case: The South Caucasus”. During these six days the participants from about 20 countries were delivered lectures on future security challenges, NATO relations with partner countries, geopolitical importance of Russia, the Caucasus and the Ukraine, the EU commitment to the Caucasus, etc. On the fourth day all the participants from the South Caucasus – Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, presented their countries. The seminar was followed by a two-day simulation game, during which each participant received a leading role on the international scene, trying to find a real solution to real challenges.
The YATA 14th General Assembly took place on October 7-10, 2009 in Kyiv, Ukraine. The main topic was “Security for Civil Society in the 21st Century”: issues of Financial Security, Public Diplomacy and Current Security and Political Developments were discussed with major emphasis on the Ukrainian case. Among key speakers were Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, NATO officials and foreign representatives to NATO. At the Assembly the annual YATA elections were held and new YATA Executive Board was elected. In the framework of the YATA 14th GA the 2nd annual award of YATA took place and the Armenian YATA chapter was awarded with a prize in the nomination of The Best Annual Event for the seminar “Environmental Security and Climate Change”.
The Armenian Atlantic Association in the framework of the subsequent NATO Week in Armenia, which took place on October 12-16, 2009, organized two events: the first one was a one day event which was devoted to the NATO’s new strategic concept and took place in Yerevan and Town Hall Meeting discussions held in two regions of Armenia. The Armenian Atlantic Association with the financial assistance of the NATO PDD and organizational assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, organized one day event which was devoted to the NATO’s new strategic concept.
The Conference started with the opening addresses made by Mr. Arthur Baghdasaryan, Secretary of the National Security Council of the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Arman Kirakosyan, Deputy Minister, RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Ambassador Charles Lonsdale, UK Embassy in Armenia (Contact Point Embassy), Mr. Michel Duray, Head, Outreach Countries Section, NATO Public Diplomacy Division and Mr. Nikolay Hovhannisyan, Co-Chairman, Armenian Atlantic Association.
In the first session entitled “The New Strategic Concept of the Alliance: defining NATO’s long term role in the new security environment of XXI century” Mr. Michel Duray, Mr. Ara Tadevosyan (Director, NATO Information Office in Yerevan) and Mr. Robert Webster (Military Attaché, the USA Embassy in Armenia) has presented to our attention the main issues regarding the new concept. In particular, Mr. Duray has stressed out the fact that this time the process will engage partners in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, as well as partners cross the globe and not only the member countries. This fact in its turn will help to more tighten the links between the Alliance and its partners and to more clearly understand the security challenges of those countries.
These particular challenges were discussed during the second session entitled “Maintaining regional security: NATO in the Caucasus”. In this session Mr. Ara Mesropyan (Head of Policy Planning Division, RA Ministry of Defence) talked about the new security challenges like energy security elements, cyber terrorism and stressed out the fact that Armenia has became a victim of cyber terrorism for some times. In its turn Mr. Tchkoidze (President, Centre for European Integration Studies, Georgia) has presented their views regarding the New Concept from the Georgian perspective. He as well as Mr. Mesropyan expressed the same opinion that this process will give many opportunities to Armenia and Georgia for more profound cooperation with NATO.
The Armenian Atlantic Association with the financial assistance of the USA Embassy in Armenia and organizational assistance of the International Center for Human Development organized Town Hall Meetings in two regions of Armenia (Gavar and Ararat). Almost 100 participants from each region participated in these discussions. During this event five scenarios about the NATO-Armenian relationships and conflict situations were discussed.
To this event AAA team invited not only youth but also participants from the different social groups. This event sought to create space for open debate within participants on the substance and direction of NATO – Armenia relationship, and to provide additional information enabling them make up their own minds about NATO and its cooperative efforts in the South Caucasus region. Here according to the debates, many of the participants remained deeply suspicious of NATO. They backed up their statement with the argument that Armenia now found itself in the tricky position of being both a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization and a growing friend of NATO. The participants were overwhelmed by nearly the same question: “Should we leave stereotypes behind and build a mutual trust?” The meetings also covered the discussion on the factors that hinder rapid development of NATO-Armenia relations. Some of the participants even argued that cold-war anti-NATO attitudes were so deep-routed in their society that the new generation was also infected with this disease. At the end of the event participants expressed their thankfulness to our association for organizing these events in their regions as it provided them with more information regarding the NATO and political developments in the region in general. People were highly interested in this initiative and welcomed our efforts looking forward to meeting our events in the years to come. The THM was a unique opportunity to reach out to a wider circle of Armenian society, beyond Yerevan. This event underlined the need to do more in terms of organizing such events with the active participation of regional centres. Stereotypes and old thinking often prevent genuine sharing of information. But providing accurate information is not sufficient to counter stereotypes successfully. What is also needed is a readiness to listen, to open up to new thinking and to be tolerant of different points of view. This was a good exercise in both respects, and clearly a learning experience for all.