June 26, 2023
Memo on the lack of legal bases for the so-called removal of the EaP CSF National Facilitator for Armenia

26 June 2023, Yerevan

On 25 May, during the ANP Assembly, 14 member organizations of the Armenian National Platform (ANP) of the EaP CSF, including 8 current delegates led by Ashot Melikyan, Mikayel Hovhannisyan, and Gayane Abrahamyan put forward a written demand for my removal from the position of the National Facilitator of the Armenian National Platform, inter alia for allegedly politicizing the ANP by signing a statement with pro-western parties, CSOs, and public figures to urge the Armenian government to step up its efforts towards Armenia’s full membership of the European Union and the NATO.

This demand and my response to it were discussed openly and thoroughly on 9 June 2023 at the joint assembly of the Armenian members and delegates of the EaP CSF, which lasted around 11 hours and was audio recorded.

While the Statute of the EaP CSF has no provisions on the removal of the National Facilitator from his office, the Statute of the ANP envisages a possibility of voluntary resignation of the National Facilitator, in which case a decision should be adopted by the majority of delegates. In any case, the proposal of the 14 organizations was put to voting and did not receive the support of the majority of the delegates (9 votes in favor out of the 18).

On 12 June, a letter was disseminated by Mr. Ashot Melikyan on behalf of Seda Shiganyan, representative of Yerevan Press Club, in which she didn’t deny that she had been informed about the Assembly of the Members/Delegates on the above question but stated that she was not aware of her right to vote on this issue and that for this reason she should either be allowed to vote additionally or YPC be removed from the list of delegates (to reduce the quorum) or new voting should be held. I, as the ANP facilitator, replied to this letter, stating that Seda Shiganyan was included in the mailing list of the EaP CSF members and delegates (the usual channel of communication within the ANP) and that lack of knowledge of her rights did not give her a right to overturn the results of the voting.

Further to this correspondence, 14 organisations sent another letter, stating that they were supporting Yerevan Press Club’s (YPC) demands and that a new Meeting of Delegates must be convened within 5 days. I convened another joint Assembly of the members and delegates on 23 June and the discussion of Yerevan Press Club’s demand was included in the draft agenda. The Assembly started with a meeting with Mr. Armen Grigoryan, Secretary of the NSC on the recent security challenges for Armenia and NK, followed by a next session with a discussion of the remaining items on the agenda of the Assembly.

In the next session of the Assembly, I presented the request of the EaP CSF Steering Committee Co-Chairs regarding the letter sent by the YPC to the CSF Compliance Committee and Steering Committee and the materials representing the process preceding it, to give them time to read carefully all the documents and consider the proper way forward. I also presented a letter from the Director of the EaP CSF Secretariat, in which she expressed the opinion that to ensure the credibility of the process and allow a comprehensive and objective approach to identify a solution, it would be wise to refrain from running activities/meetings that have statutory and/or decision-making implications, such as the one planned on 23 June.

I suggested respecting the request of the Steering Committee Co-Chairs, to take into account the opinion of the Director of the CSF Secretariat and refrain from adopting a complete set of amendments to the Charter and also urged the delegates who initiated the Meeting of Delegates to refrain from making a decision on the issue in question until the responses of the Compliance Committee and the Steering Committee were received. To this end, I withdrew my proposed version of the agenda and proposed to discuss a changed version of the agenda.

Ashot Melikyan stated that they did not agree to abstain from their intention to organize a re-vote on the issue of termination of the powers of the ANP coordinator, which was voted on at the June 9 Delegates’ meeting and did not receive enough votes, and also demanded that the session of the Meeting of Delegates preceded all the other issues on the agenda of the Conference. 

The ANP Assembly by the majority of votes refused Ashot Melikyan’s proposal and did not authorize the upcoming Meeting of Delegates to make a decision on the issue of additional voting for the reason of not having powers and discretion by the Meeting of Delegates to adopt such decisions in view of the ANP statutory provision, whereby any issue that is not within the competence of any ANP body shall be resolved by the ANP assembly. Since the issue of holding additional/new voting in such a situation was deemed an issue not within the competence of any other body, the ANP Assembly voted not to allow this issue to be voted on by the Meeting of Delegates to make a decision on the issue of additional voting for Seda Shiganyan/new voting by the delegates on the grounds of absence of such competence for the Meeting of Delegates (of the 40 Armenian members of Civil Society Forum, participating in the ANP Assembly 22 were in favor, 16 – against and 2-  abstained). In addition, ANP Assembly referred to the need to wait for the decision of the Compliance Committee and Steering Committee in response to Ms. Shiganyan’s complaint.

Ashot Melikyan declared that they would leave the Assembly to hold a Meeting of the delegates on the issue of removing Hovsep Khurshudyan from the position of the National Facilitator, following which they left. The majority of CSF Armenian members remained at the ANP Assembly and adopted the ANP Code of Ethics and selected the 3 members of the Ethics Council. The minutes of the Assembly were duly prepared and disseminated by the Secretariat of the ANP the same day, while Ashot Melikyan disseminated a two-line e-mail stating that Mr. Hovsep Khurshudyan was removed from the position of the National Facilitator. Two days later Mikayel Hovhannisyan (Vice-Rector of Yerevan State University) disseminated the minutes of the “Meeting of delegates”, stating that another “Meeting of delegates” was held at an unknown place and 8 delegates participated (with 2 delegates having delegated their votes to other delegates) and decided that Mr. Hovsep Khurshudyan is removed.

This groundless “decision” is against the Statute and regulations on the functioning of the ANP for the following reasons:

1. The ANP assembly/CSF Armenian Members Assembly, which is the ultimate decision-making body in the ANP, did not empower the Meeting of delegates to decide on the issue of additional/new voting, on the grounds of lack of competence of the Meeting of Delegates to decide on this matter;

2. The remaining 8 delegates, including the National Facilitator, were not notified of the time and place of the additional so-called Meeting of Delegates (such notice must be disseminated at least 96 hours before the Meeting, according to the ANP Statute);

3. Delegated voting is not foreseen for the Meeting of Delegates as under the EaP CSF and ANP Statutes delegates should vote in person or electronically through the available voting channel(s) put in place for the respective electoral process (no such channel had previously been put in place for this voting).

The fact that 14 ANP members pursue a hidden agenda and have nothing to do with democracy, the rule of law, transparency, and open society was also evidenced by their behavior at the June 23 ANP Assembly, when one of them confirmed that they were against the ANP statements because “they did not want to join an anti-Russian propaganda”.

Note should also be taken of the fact that this initiative of the ANP 14 organizations has neither the support of the majority of ANP members, of the Executive Body (Board) of ANP nor the ANP Secretariat for lack of grounds.

Taking into account all the above, any notice about this process by any of the ANP members supporting this decision must be disregarded as ungrounded and unlawful.

Hovsep Khurshudyan

EaP CSF Natinal Facilitator for Armenia