United States of America/European Union Democracy and Civil Society Award


On May 18 the ceremony of presenting the first annual Democracy and Civil Society Award established jointly by the US and the European Union, took place at the American Embassy in Yerevan

The Democracy and Civil Society Award was established in May 1997 at the joint European Union and US Summit in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and 40th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. 140 NGOs, communities and individuals from 28 countries of the Central and Eastern Europe and the NIS were nominated to claim this (from now on annual) award for their contributions in such basic spheres of democracy building as conflict resolution, human rights protection, good governance, environmental protection, protection of women’s, minority and media rights, promotion of community activism, the rule of law, and civic education.

50 organizations and individuals were recognized as Award winners. These were chosen by an independent commission, which included representatives from the EU and the US.

Four organizations were nominated from Armenia: Helsinki Association of Armenia, Helsinki Commission of Armenia, Lawyers and Politologists Union and Yerevan Press Club. Two of these – Helsinki Association of Armenia and YPC – were handed out certificates and prizes of $20,000 each.

At the ceremony UK Ambassador to Armenia John Mitchener marked the role of Yerevan Press Club in “uniting active and progressive journalists,” boosting the level of professionalism and contributing in the development of the legal basis for the media.

“Our goal is to expand the environment of high professionalism, dignity and journalistic ethics. We have succeeded in establishing such an atmosphere among YPC members and we hope it will become a norm for the Armenian journalists in general,” said YPC President Boris Navasardian, expressing gratitude for the award.

Besides YPC, among prize-winner journalistic unions were also Press Institute of Mongolia, and Ilkhom Center for the Study of Journalistic Problems (Uzbekistan). In Azerbaijan – Azerbaijani Chapter of Helsinki Citizens Assembly and Azerbaijani Women’s Rights Society were noted. In Georgia – Varketili Society and Elena Tevdoradze, MP, were nominated.

“First of all I want to congratulate Yerevan Press Club with the US-EU Democracy and Civil Society Award for their promotion of essential principles of democracy and civil society.” It was with these words that Hans van den Broek, EU Commissioner on International Affairs, opened his speech at the press-conference on June 2 held at the RA Foreign Affairs Ministry. He underscored that the Award was an indication of media’s significant role in Armenia, which was only commendable.


“Yerevan Press Club” Newsletter
No.5 (20) May-June 1998