Freedom of Information Center of Armenia.

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OGP Armenia

The Republic of Armenia became a member of OGP in September 2011. Joining the initiative Republic of Armenia expressed its willingness to ensure transparency and accountability in the sphere of public governance and delivery of public services. The Republic of Armenia became a member of OGP in September 2011. Joining the initiative Republic of Armenia expressed its willingness to ensure transparency and accountability in the sphere of public governance and delivery of public services. Freedom of Information Center of Armenia (FOICA) is a pioneer in fostering Open Government Partnership objectives in Armenia by setting up a productive dialogue and cooperation between the Government and civil society. FOICA plays an active role in the development of the OGP Armenia Action Plan, implementation and monitoring of the implementation process against the commitments. Under 27 January, 2012 50-Ա decision of the RA Prime Minister about “Creating a workgroup in order to elaborate the Action Plan for Armenia’s participation in the OGP”, the FOICA was included in the working group.
The official website of the OGP-Armenia is www.ogp.am

Prime Minister: No Alternative To Civil Society

15.06.2013

Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan participated in the opening of “Open Government Partnership - Armenia" international conference.

Welcoming the participants on behalf of the Government, the Prime Minister said,

“I would like to highlight the holding of this conference, because we are facing most important and fundamental problems which we must address. Any government program can be successful if its principles and ideology are introduced to the public at large, become the subject of discussion and criticism, and then are accepted and implemented. This is the way to civil society. The transition from a totalitarian regime toward civil society and democratic institutions is a difficult and painful journey as it assumes that every member of society should change its way of thinking, routine functions, otherwise we will live in a way we did yesterday. No government in the world can succeed unless fundamental changes are implemented in society. "

Then, the Premier presented a few theses regarding the principles of public administration. Tigran Sargsyan said civil society cannot be shaped without open and transparent governance. The head of government noticed that there are two main reasons behind it:

“The first reason lies in the fact that all governments are furnished with a tool of coercion - power – which is a monopoly of coercion in a country. Where this tool is put into application, people should be convinced that no ill purpose is pursued thereby, otherwise there will be no progress. This is why any undertaking of authorities should be controlled. Moreover, authorities should always be questioned and justify the use of coercion. Very often I can see officials complaining about such treatment, but it is a necessary element of civil society,” the Prime Minister emphasized.

At the same time, he added that there ought to be fair governance, redistribution of financial resources, management and ownership, which also means that governments must always be under public control.

The Prime Minister is convinced that there is no alternative to civil society and transparency at all levels is the only way to it. Governments should be accountable to the public so that the latter could see all government functions.

“This is the key to social trust. Transparency alone is not enough: public participation in decision-making is also necessary to ensure that the public be confident that these are logical decisions and that their opinion matters in decision-making. If we can provide all of this, we should also be able to ensure responsibility and professionalism in this process which is often lacking in our society. This can lead to serious problems. The general public should be prepared to understand the difference between the truth and the lies amid large-scale flux of information so that the development programs might reach their goals," the Prime Minister noted.

According to Tigran Sargsyan, society is quick to perceive sensational news, which often carries negative elements. As a result, the press and television are flooded with such negative information conducive to frustration, dissatisfaction and lack of confidence in the future which in turn is an impediment to reform. In the Prime Minister's opinion, it is just where we need to be responsible and professional.

As an example, the Prime Minister said that the government of Armenia is among the top five states of the world with completely transparent state budget expenditures. Every detail and document related to Armenia’s public spending is available worldwide in online regime.

“Only once since the launch of this system a couple of years ago mass media referred to public procurement questioning whether the transaction was justified. Meanwhile, we keep on receiving media feedback on the misuse of public funds and so on, with the most of those allegations missing evidence. It is a highly professional task and those media outlets having set themselves the task of revealing incidences of mismanagement should be knowledgeable enough to analyze the information at hand,” Tigran Sargsyan stressed and noticed with regret that the level of responsibility and professionalism is too low in this area.

As the Prime Minister observed, this implies that we must learn to work in new environments, where information is open and transparent and accessible to the public.

”Transitional societies may come under risk, if they disregard knowledge. Responsibility is of great importance here. We have to be consistent and prosecute those people who disseminate misinformation trying to fling mud at honest people. This is a delicate task, and we are not yet ready to do so as any action to that effect might be viewed as a pressure on the opponent. Here, too, we have a way to go before we can win the public’s trust in law enforcement and judicial bodies. These are the primary principles behind the government’s program and actions," the Prime Minister concluded.

For his part, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern said the Government is working closely with the Open Government Partnership Program, and they do believe that open society and liberal economy may lead to prosperity, security and peace.

“It is the basis on which is structured the assistance extended under the Open Government Partnership Program. The government of Armenia has assumed an important undertaking before the Open Government Partnership Program by approving its program of activities, which I understand has been discussed and put into circulation. It is crucial for Armenia to push ahead with said Action Plan in order to improve reform performance, which is taken into consideration by the Millennium Challenge Corporation," the U.S. Ambassador stated.

Reminding that our country used to be a beneficiary of the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s program, John Heffern said this effort might ensure Armenia’s participation in future programs.

At the conference, the Government of Armenia will present a national OGP action plan and a feedback on the pace of its commitments under the Program.  

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