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Visitors at Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits

Civilitas is pleased to receive visitors all year. But summer is an especially busy time. This week, the parish of the Armenian Church of the Holy Translators (Framingham, Massachusetts) visited in large numbers. Led by Father Krikor Sabounjian, pastor, and Anthony Barsamian, an active parish member also involved in various private and public sector projects in Armenia the group of several dozen of all ages came to see what Civilitas does, hear about CivilNet.am and its special place in Armenia-Diaspora connections, and interacted with Civilitas's young, passionate, multilingual staff.

Civilitas Director Salpi Ghazarian, as well as editors Karen Harutyunyan and Maria Titizian also spoke to the group, and a lively conversation followed on various aspects of Armenia-Diaspora relations, Armenian identity issues, expectations and images of Armenia (by the Diaspora) and ways in which each visitor can get engaged.

Salpi Ghazarian described various Civilitas programs that invite Diaspora collaboration, and in particular, the support to the Armenian Dairy Industry which is implemented by securing donations and purchasing well-bred cows to 'sell' to Armenia's farmers (using the microfinance principles.) Farmers pay back 100 percent of their obligations and these donations are used again, to purchase new cows for other farmers.

More groups of visitors are expected and will be welcomed throughout the summer.


Raising awareness of Armenian Genocide

Spotlight / Visits
Last month, I travelled to Yerevan, Armenia to meet with people from the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute (AGMI). They’re working to raise greater awareness of a horrific genocide that saw the murder of 1.5 million people during the final years of the Ottoman Empire around 1915. Ongoing denial of this historic atrocity, waged in the name of racial and religious homogeneity, makes it a contemporary human-rights concern.

When the CMHR opens next year, information about this atrocity will be included in its galleries.  We are also working to establish formal ties of cooperation with the Museum in Yerevan that could help both institutions in our efforts to use awareness and dialogue as a way to promote enhanced human rights for Armenians and all of humanity.
On my trip, I was accompanied and assisted by members of the Toronto-based Zoryan Institute of Canada, a group that supports scholarship and public awareness relating to issues of universal human rights, genocide, and diaspora-homeland relations.

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Philippe Lefort visits the Civilitas Foundation

Spotlight / Visits
euEU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia, Philippe Lefort, along with the Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, Traian Hristea, visited the Civilitas Foundation today. In a meeting with Civilitas Founder Vartan Oskanian, the diplomats discussed a range of regional issues with an emphasis on the settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.

Mr. Lefort examined current Civilitas' programs and their role in civil society and media development in Armenia. He laid out the main goals that his mission pursues in Armenia and his outlook on the region’s issues. Discussions also revolved around the opportunities for the European Union to become more effectively engaged in Armenia.

What journalists need to know about new media and conflict

Spotlight / Visits
IMG_5308On Wednesday November 30, Sciences Po Paris played host to a panel discussion on the subject of new media and conflict prevention. The prestigious panel included: Anne-Sophie Bordry, public affairs director for Facebook, France; William Echikson, former journalist and spokesperson for Google in Brussels; Fabrice Epelboin, publisher of the French version of ReadWriteWeb and co-founder of the Tunisian Association for Digital Liberties; Salpi H. Ghazarian, director of the Civilitas Foundation;  Lilane Landor, language controller of BBC Global News; Joseph Maïla, founder of the Institue for training in Mediation and Negotiation and Omar Saghi, Sciences Po. professor and screenwriter.

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German Marshall Fund’s Black Sea Trust and Robert Bosch Stiftung Delegation at Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits
marshalOn October 20 Civilitas received a senior delegation of foreign policy and development experts from the European Union and the United States. The meeting was held in the framework of a South Caucasus Study Tour organized by the Black Sea Trust of the German Marshall Trust in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Yerevan is the last stop of the delegation after Azerbaijan and Georgia.

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Visitors at Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits
swedishIn September Civilitas founder Vartan Oskanian received International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Chief of Mission to Armenia Mark Horton, Resident Representative Guillermo Tolosa, Mission Economist Carlos Caceres, and Economist Anna Roze Bordon. The group discussed economic trends and developments in Armenia, the nature of upcoming Civilitas initiatives, including polling and CivilNet.TV, a daily Internet news and researched based channel.

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Swedish Foreign Minister Visits Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits
5Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, accompanied by Sweden’s ambassador to Armenia Diana Janse and a delegation of Swedish diplomats visited the Civilitas Foundation on Tuesday, June 14.  Minister Bildt heard about the Civilitas Foundation’s various programs and future plans. Civilitas founder and former foreign minister Vartan Oskanian and Mr. Bildt discussed regional issues, particularly current discussions regarding the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement.  Discussion also revolved around the domestic political and economic situation, and prospects for greater civic involvement.

Civilitas: A Place to Be. An Experience to Share…

Spotlight / Visits
In recent years Armenia is seeing a commendable rise in welcoming and hosting youth from our Diaspora. While this should be encouraged as a continuous effort, it is also essential to provide the necessary setting for mutual learning experiences and lifetime memories.

During the past few months, Civilitas was the place where a promising attorney from Florida and the first Chilean-Armenian student volunteer in Yerevan came to share their cultural and professional experiences with their peers.

DSC_44122Rubina K. Shaldjian, from Florida, took a three-month sabbatical to volunteer at Civilitas through the Armenian Volunteer Corps. Her professional and academic input was indispensable in many tasks ranging from drafting various documents to assisting staff experts to formulate future project ideas. “The fast-paced work environment at Civilitas was just what I was looking for.  I wasn’t bored for a second,” says Shaldjian. “From the second I got there, I began what felt like a three-month crash course in the political and social issues that abound in Armenia.  I admit that, at first, I was slightly overwhelmed by the fact that there was so much I didn’t know about the history, politics and culture of Armenia and the Caucasus.  But as I began to develop relationships with my colleagues, I gained a tremendous amount of insight as to the culture of Yerevan and the issues Armenians face.  I can honestly say that it was a true cultural experience... and it was too short!”

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The Black Sea Region: Current and Future Prospects

Spotlight / Visits
Vartan Oskanian participated in a one-day conference entitled “The Black Sea Region – Current and Future Prospects” in Berlin. The conference was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 25.

Mr. Oskanian is a member of the Black Sea Commission, which had sponsored the conference. The Commission, an initiative of the German Marshall Fund, the International Center for Black Sea Studies, the Bertelsmann Foundation, and TEPAV, has as its members several former high-level officials from Black Sea region member countries. The commission members have met several times over the last year in order to try to identify common interests which would serve to move the governments of Black Sea region countries towards closer cooperation.

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An International Alert Delegation Visits Civilitas Foundation

Spotlight / Visits

IntalertAn International Alert delegation headed by Eurasia Senior Program Officer Oskari Pentikainen visited the Civilitas Foundation on November 3. The guests met with Vartan Oskanian and Salpi Ghazarian. Regional economic issues were discussed during the meeting with a specific eye to Armenia-Turkey relations and the Karabakh conflict resolution process. The guests were interested in Mr. Oskanian’s opinion regarding recent developments in those two areas. Vartan Oskanian was interested in the organization’s activities through the Caucasus Business and Development Network, which works in Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh, Turkey, Georgia, S. Ossetia, Abkhazia and Azerbaijan to encourage economic cooperation.


Lithuanian Delegation Visits Civilitas Foundation

Spotlight / Visits
Visit-LithuaniaA Lithuanian delegation, headed by the deputy foreign minister Mr. Evaldas Ignatavicius, member of the European Parliament Mr. Leonidas Donskis, as well as the Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to the Republic of Armenia, visited the Civilitas Foundation on October 30.

The guests had a meeting with Vartan Oskanian and discussed internal and external developments in Armenia. They were interested particularly in Mr. Oskanian’s views regarding the recent developments in Armenia-Turkey relations, as well as the Karabakh resolution process. Mr. Oskanian talked about the obvious links between these two processes, and stated that judging from the statements that come from the Turkish side, the Turkey-Armenia process cannot play a positive role in the Karabakh resolution process. The guests also discussed other regional issues, as well as the economic situation both in Armenia and Lithuania.

Book Fair in Gyumri

Spotlight / Visits

The Civilitas Foundation was pleased to participate in a book fair which took place in Gyumri on the 12th of June, 2009, organised by the “Art Bridge” bookstore-café (Yerevan), and Gyumri’s “Elav” bookstore.

A sunny afternoon on the newly-renovated Rizhkov Street in central Gyumri saw a lot of activity in front of the “Elav” bookstore. Tables were laden with books on various subjects – history, art, religion, science, novels and textbooks – some of which were being made available to the citizens of Gyumri for the first time. The books were, of course, marked at discounted rates for this special occasion.

Moreover, three authors had arrived to present and sign copies of their recently-published works, an event which took place at a different location in Gyumri, the quaint Dzitoghtsyan-Merkurov museum complex.

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Visiting Dilijan, Promoting Local Arts

Spotlight / Visits
090517sThe city of Dilijan was bustling on May 17, on the International Day of Museums. On the city’s old, cobble-stone Sharambeyan Street, the Artbridge Bookstore-Café and the Sharan Arts Center had organized an open-air festival with musical groups, vendors and local artisans.

The “Bambir” rock band, as well as local musicians played for three hours entertaining many guests from Yerevan, as well as the residents of Dilijan. Civilitas board members and staff participated in the fair, and had a lot of fun, enjoying an unusually sunny weather in Dilijan, and the festive atmosphere of the day. Artbridge is the distributor of Vartan Oskanian’s Speaking to be Heard, A Decade of Speeches.

Washington DC-based National War College class visits Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits

A group of military professionals studying at the Washington DC-based National War College visited the Civilitas Foundation on May 13. The visit was part of their study tour to the South Caucasus.

The group met with Civilitas Director Salpi Ghazarian who described Civilitas programs and projects. The visitors had an opportunity to speak extensively with Civilitas Board President Vartan Oskanian.

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Bringing Water to Border Villages

Spotlight / Visits

borderCivilitas board members Vartan Oskanian and Vahe Aghabegians, Director Salpi Ghazarian and staff members Artashes Darbinian and Hayk Petrosyan traveled to Goris and Meghri to closely view the Civilitas Rural Economic Facilitation Program projects being implemented in Syunik.

The Swiss Development Cooperation has partnered with the Civilitas Foundation to help provide improved water capacity for the villages of Alvank and Shvanidzor in Meghri, just kilometers from the Armenian border with Iran. The support of the Diocesan Council of the Iranian-Armenian community is an important component in this program.

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Femme Courage Solidarite Visits Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits

Mr. Levon Kebabdjian and Armen Alaverdian of the NGO, Femme Courage Solidarite, came to Civilitas, accompanied by Mr. Ashot Ghazarian, the AGBU Representative in Yerevan, to talk about common interests in rural development.

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"Speaking To Be Heard" in Aleppo and Beirut

Spotlight / Visits

On April 22, a presentation celebrating the release of Vartan Oskanian’s new book entitled, Speaking to be Heard: A Decade of Speeches, took place in Mr. Oskanian’s birthplace, Aleppo, Syria. The event was organized by the Syrian chapter of the AGBU together with the Armenian Youth Association. Representatives of all local organizations offered their comments. The keynote presentation on the book was made by Rev. Haroutioun Selimian, who reflected on the evolution of Armenia’s foreign policy as reflected in 10 years of the former foreign minister’s speeches.

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The Civilitas Foundation Visits Tavush Region

Spotlight / Visits

On March 31, Civilitas board chairman Vartan Oskanian, together with board member Vahe Aghabegians, Programs Coordinator Hayk Petrosyan and Communications Coordinator Anna Saghabalyan visited Tavush region for the official opening of the community administration building and the inauguration of the gasification of the village of Ditavan.

Both projects were undertaken by the Rural Development Program of the Hayastan All-Armenia Fund.

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Christoph Zopel Visits Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits

Christoph Zopel, Former Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, member of Socialist International, a leading figure in the German Social Democratic Party, visited Civilitas on March 18. Mr. Zopel met with Vartan Oskanian and discussed some regional and domestic issues, as well as global economic crisis and its influence on the region. Mr. Oskanian talked about the importance of rule of law especially in these times of crisis, as well as the need for a review of the policy of laissez-faire capitalism. Mr. Oskanian repeated that especially in the post-soviet territory, where rule of law is often a major problem, wild capitalism can’t work effectively, because it is essential that public-private relationships are based on the rule of law.



Mr. Shemi Tzur Visits Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits

Mr. Shemi Tzur, the ambassador of Israel to Armenia, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, resident in Jerusalem, visited the Civilitas Foundation on March 19.


A Member of the German Parliament Visits Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits

Marcus Meckel, a member of the German Parliament, visited Civilitas in late February. A political scientist, former East German dissident, and theologian, he was in Armenia as part of an information gathering visit. Mr. Meckel, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, is also involved with various German foundations and supports, among other things, a study of the effects of Communism on democratization.

Mr. Meckel expressed concern about domestic developments in Armenia and hope for the development of stronger social and political institutions.


Switzerland’s Ambassador to Armenia Visits Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits

Switzerland’s Ambassador to Armenia, Lorenzo Amberg, visited Civilitas on Thursday, February 19, 2009. Ambassador Amberg and Mr. Oskanian spoke about developments in the region. Mr. Oskanian inquired about the domestic situation in Georgia, in the aftermath of the August clash with Russia. The Swiss ambassador was particularly interested in Armenian perceptions about Turkish-Armenian relations.

They also spoke about the new partnership between the Civilitas Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.


Civilitas Founder Vartan Oskanian at the Yerevan School of Political Studies of COE

Spotlight / Visits

schoolIn December, Civilitas founder Vartan Oskanian was hosted by the Yerevan School of Political Studies of the Council of Europe. The school has semi- annual retreats in Tsakhkadzor, with invited lecturers participating. Vartan Oskanian was asked by the school to lecture to the young professionals, working in a variety of public and government organizations, as well as representatives of NGOs and journalists.

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Turkish Filmmakers Visit Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits

turkA group of Turkish filmmakers visited The Civilitas foundation on December 4. Ten young filmmakers, visiting Armenia to participate in the Second Turkish- Armenian Workshop on "Cinema as Means of Cross-Border Dialogue and Mutual Understanding".

The workshop, initiated by the Golden Apricot International Film Festival, was a partnership between the Yerevan festival and the Anadolu Kültür Association of Turkey, as well as the Armenian Writers Union.

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OSCE Minsk Group visits Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits
OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs Matthew Bryza, Bernard Fassier and Yuri Merzlyakov visited the Civilitas Foundation on November 17. They held a meeting with Civilitas founder Vartan Oskanian.

The Civilitas Foundation in Tbilisi

Spotlight / Visits

tb1The Civilitas Foundation participated in a conference on “A European Strategy for the Southern Caucasus,” in Tbilisi at the Heinrich Boell Institute. Civilitas Founder Vartan Oskanian spoke on a panel on “The war in Georgia and its international consequences.” Temuri Yakobashvili, Georgian State Minister for Reintegration also participated in that discussion.

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Israel’s Ambassador visits Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits

Mr. Ehud Gol, Israel’s ambassador to Armenia, resident in Jerusalem, visited the Civilitas Foundation on October 31.

Ambassador Gol is finishing his term, and he met with Civilitas founder Vartan Oskanian as part of his farewell tour to meet with current and former colleagues.

Mr. Gol and Mr. Oskanian discussed regional issues, international political matters, and Armenia-Israel relations.


Vartan Oskanian Spoke in Toronto

Spotlight / Visits
Founder of the Civilitas Foundation, former foreign minister of Armenia, Vartan Oskanian spoke in Toronto and Los Angeles at two community gatherings.

In Toronto on October 24, Mr. Oskanian was the guest of the Canada Armenia Business Council. The banquet took place at the Toronto Hilton Suites on October 24, 2008.

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Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation at Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits

Veronique Hulmann, Deputy Head of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) CIS Division accompanied by Sibylle Schmutz, Junior Programme Officer and Derek Mueller, SDC Regional Director for the Caucasus, visited Civilitas on October 18. Zara Allahverdyan Senior National Program Officer accompanied the delegation.

During their meetings with Civilitas staff, the SDC representatives discussed specific areas of cooperation within the sphere of rural economic facilitation.

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EU’s Director General for External Relations Visits the Civilitas Foundation

Spotlight / Visits
During his meeting with Vartan Oskanian, Mr. Landaburu presented Mr. Oskanian the perspectives of the European Union on European and regional issues, including the Russian-Georgian conflict, European neighborhood policy and more.

Founder of Civilitas, Armenia's former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian welcomed the European Union's involvement in the region, and stated his belief that EU can and should do more in and for the region.

"The EU should be more ambitious," Vartan Oskanian stated.

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Head of the MFA of Sweden visits Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits
Head of the Eastern Europe Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden Johan Frisell visited Civilitas on Wednesday October 15. Mr. Frisell met Civiltas founder Vartan Oskanian and director Salpi Ghazarian. They discussed regional issues, as well as possible future cooperation.

Dr. Stamboulian visited Civilitas

Spotlight / Visits
Dr. Daniel Stamboulian, a physician from Buenos Aires, Argentina, engaged in public health issues in Argentina and Armenia, visited Civilitas on October 10. Dr. Stamboulian heads Fidec organization, which is working on fighting infectious diseases in emerging countries. During his meeting with Civilitas Director Salpi Ghazarian and Projects Manager Vahe Aghabegians, they discussed possible fields of cooperation especially in rural areas.

Mr. Regenbrecht and Ms.Wiktorin visited the Civilitas Foundation

Spotlight / Visits
Mr. Johannes Regenbrecht, Head of the German Foreign Ministry's Division for the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia accompanied by Ms. Andrea Wiktorin, the Ambassador of Germany to Armenia, visited the Civilitas Foundation on October 6.

During his meeting with the founder of Civilitas, former foreign minister of Armenia Vartan Oskanian, Mr. Regenbrecht touched upon various issues from Armenia's domestic situation to regional issues.

Speaking about the political situation in Armenia, Mr. Oskanian stated that the situation is still tense, and that the sides are not taking sufficient steps to ease the tension. Mr. Oskanian stressed that addressing the situation of the opposition activists detained since March 1 would go a long way to help defuse the situation.

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Civilitas Blog

The Civilitas Community shares stories about daily challenges and successes. Today: Lost in Istanbul

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Inside Civilitas

A day by day look at the investigation by the National Security Service into Civilitas's financial and administrative work.

Civilitas Statement
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Civilitas Library
The Civilitas Foundation Library -- a collection of political, historic and philosophical works -- open to all who need it. Do you want to donate a volume?
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Our Projects
The overall objective of the project is to improve access to water for the population of remote villages in the region of Meghri. The specific objectives of the project are to restore and reconstruct the underground water supply system of wells and tunnels (chaheriz) in Alvank and Shvanidzor villages and to train and develop the necessary local capacity for continued further maintenance of the system.

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Civilitas Polls
With the support of Norwegian and German governments, a few months ago the Civilitas Foundation began to conduct polls throughout Armenia. The results of the polls will be made available to the media and will serve as the topic of public discussions.

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Civilitas Spotlight


What can be expected of or for Syria in the immediate future? Can there be justice without peace? Can there be peace without an accounting and without justice? What do Syrians want? What does the international community want?

The guests are

Nicholas Koumjian

International Criminal Law Attorney

Vartan Oskanian

Member of Parliament

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs


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Civil.am - your guide to civil society activity in Armenia - is a project of the Civilitas Foundation. Take a closer look to better understand what is already being done. Identify potential partners and cooperation possibilities. Support existing programs to increase efficiency. Encourage new programs to foster development.
Facts for Thought
Number of theater performances (1) and attendance (2) in Armenia
(1) (2)
2008 2,364 409,500
2009 2,443 367,800
2010 2,331 394,800
2011 2,707 458,900
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