June 23, 2023
To Co-chairs of the Steering Committee

Dear Co-Chairs of the Steering Committee,

  1. Under para 2 of Article 4.1.3 (Termination of the delegate status) of the EaP CSF Statute, the delegate status is temporarily suspended or terminated at the moment of Temporary or indefinite expulsion from the EaP CSF or the National Platform, in line with a decision made by the Compliance Committee, Steering Committee, General Assembly, and National Platform in line with its regulations.

In conformity with para 3, reasons for a delegate expulsion include:

  • Serious violation of this Statute or the Code of Ethical Conduct or other internal regulation.

In conformity with Article 7.5 (2), of the Statute of the Forum, a Steering Committee member may be removed with cause, such as a conflict of interest or other unethical behavior…. The member may be removed at any meeting of the Steering Committee at which the quorum is present, by two-thirds of the votes cast at such a meeting, or online.

Relevant provisions of the Code of Ethical Conduct

1.2.4 Impartiality. Members shall exercise impartiality in undertaking Forum-related decisions and activities. They shall not be influenced by past, current or prospective relationships, whether professional, personal, or financial, with any government, institution, or person. Nor should decisions and activities be affected by any personal opinion (whether positive or negative) members may have of any country, government, institution, or person.

2.2. Conflict of Interest, para 3

Each member of the Steering Committee, National Platform boards, and other decision-making bodies shall disclose all actual and potential conflicts of interest, including any institutional or organisational affiliation he or she may have that might involve a conflict of interest. Such disclosure does not preclude or imply ethical impropriety.

Mr Sarhat Petrosyan, the sole founder of the organization Urbanlab (https://www.urbanlab.am/en/who/) (a delegate organization from Armenia) is a member of the Board of Trustees of Eurasia Partnership Foundation (another delegate organization) from May 2017 until January 2022. Since 2020, both Urbanlab and Eurasia Partnership Foundation were delegates of the Forum, the former represented by Sarhat Petrosyan while the latter – by Mikayel Hovhannisyan. Subsequently, in mid-2021, Urbanlab was represented by Lena Matevosyan, director of Urbanlab. According to the Armenian legislation on non-governmental organizations, director of the organization is the executive body and reports to the founders of the organization. Therefore, Lena Matevosyan is not independent of Sarhat Petrosyan, and gets paid by and reports to the latter.

Sarhat Petrosyan has also provided paid-for services to the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, including the design of Eurasia’s offices in 2013-2014 (https://www.sp2.am/en/project/eurasia) and is not independent from Eurasia Partnership Foundation. This was evidenced by the fact that for the last two assemblies of the Armenian National Platform of the EaP CSF Urbanlab has been delegating its vote to Mikayel Hovhannisyan from Eurasia Partnership Foundation.

In view of the fact that this is a clear violation of the values and principles of the Ethical Code of Conduct, as stipulated in Article 1.2.4 – Impartiality and the Conflict of Interest Provisions (2.2), I hereby request a discussion of the suspension of the delegate status for both organization and expulsion of Mr. Mikayel Hovhannisyan from the Steering Committee of the Forum for non-disclosure of the fact that Mr. Sarhat Petrosyan was a member of the Board of Trustees of Eurasia Partnership Foundation at the time of delegate selection in 2020, as well as suspension of the right to vote for both organizations until a decision is made by the SC on the issue.

2. I also request the suspension of the delegate status of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation unless he changes his representative in the EaP CS Forum.

4.2.1. Eligibility for Member Status

2) Member organizations must be non-partisan, and free of government, business and religious influence.

Mikayel Hovhannisyan is currently the Vice-Rector of Yerevan State University, which is full-time employment with YSU. 

Yerevan State University is a foundation whose founder is the Government of the Republic of Armenia. The Government of Armenia has a 50% representation in the YSU Board. Namely, 5 members of the Board are high-level officials within the Government, including the Minister of Defense, the Deputy-Minister of Education, Science, Culture, and Sports, the RA General Prosecutor, the President of the RA Committee of Science of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, the Government Representative for International Legal Matters. 5 more members are directly nominated by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports.  

When elected Mikayel Hovhannisyan was a full-time employee of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation. However, at present on the organisation’s website, he is referred to as former staff. Instead, he is a full-time employee of YSU. It is not sufficient grounds to maintain that he is in fact authorized by EPF because with similar success EPF could have authorized one of the department heads at the Ministry of Justice, for example. What matters is the de facto employment. 

His current position as YSU vice-rector can also influence the position of some of the other CSF Armenian delegates, causing a conflict of interests. This is evidenced by the fact that Astghik Avetisyan, who was recently appointed as a representative of CSF delegate – Federation of Youth Clubs, is a YSU associate professor, that is, she is under the supervision of Mikael Hovhannisyan.

  • Finally, Mikayel Hovhannisyan, together with Ashot Melikyan, who is also a member of the Compliance Committee of the Forum, initiated the illegal, non-transparent, based on hidden agenda process for the purpose of dismissing the CSF Armenian National Facilitator, totally based on slanders and false, manipulative arguments, which were completely debunked and refuted by the last (all related documents are provided by me to the CSF Secretariat and SC co-chairs). Mr. Hovhannisyan approach towards another SC member is not only non-partnership, but also the process has the potential of causing essential harm to the reputation of the Armenian National Platform and the whole Forum.  This, as I consider, also is a basis for suspension of the delegate status of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation unless he changes his representative in the EaP CS Forum.

Hovsep Khurshudyan,

EaP CSF National Facilitator for Armenia