AUA Lecture Series Examines European Union Policy

YEREVAN–Experts from the European Union (EU) Advisory Group delivered five guest lectures on European Union policy at the American University of Armenia from November 21 to December 3, 2012.

The lecture series was hosted under the auspices of AUA’s Political Science and International Affairs program, with the support of the Lifelong Learning Program of the EU. It was organized by Dr. Syuzanna Vasilyan, assistant professor in the program and Jean Monnet Chair of EU Studies.

Each lecture was delivered in English on the following policy topics: International Trade and Market Access, Justice and Home Affairs, Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Issues.

“The lectures intended to raise awareness among AUA students and civil society at large about ongoing negotiations between Armenia and the EU over the Association Agreement (AA) and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA),” explained Dr. Vasilyan. “The series shed light on the EU’s role and Armenia’s performance in line with the envisaged values, principles and standards.”

Dr. Vasilyan provided introductory remarks ahead of each lecture, discussing the EU’s trade leverage in the world, and describing it as an “economic lion.” She also discussed the essential components under judicial reform in the EU-Armenia Action Plan, the positioning of the “rule of law” as a “Priority Area 1” in the Action Plan, the vital role of human rights as a “core norm”, as well as the health-related repercussions of sanitary and phytosanitary issues. She also underscored the added-value of placing EU Studies in an inter-disciplinary ‘capsule’. The academic and policy discourse were hereby bridged.

Dr. Willem Van Der Geest’s lecture, titled “International Trade and Market Access,” was centered on Armenia’s economic standing, export-import ratio, the potential benefits of the DCFTA, and the measures required to improve the country’s standing.

Various questions were asked throughout the series regarding the environmental impact of economic growth, the possible repercussions of opening the Turkish-Armenian border, the compatibility of the Armenia’s questionable entry into the Eurasian Union and the closer partnership with the EU, etc.
In her lecture on “Justice Reforms,” Ms. Catherine Durieux sketched the overall importance of the justice sector highlighting the importance of introducing a probation system in Armenia. Questions and comments during this lecture centered around the practice of probation in other countries, as well as its legal substance and form.

The talk given by Mr. Richard Martinez was on crime prevention, a specific topic pertaining to the rule of law. By elaborating on crucial concepts, the expert further expanded on the practice of threat detection by taking precautions.

The audience wondered about the cohesiveness of the society as far as crime rate is concerned, the supervision of the police by another body, etc. Ms. Dalia Zukauskiene’s lecture was on the role and responsibilities of the Human Rights Defender’s (Ombudsman’s) institution, its role in general and the requisites that should be in place for proper functioning of the institution in order to protect a major value – human rights.

Other questions were also asked around the likelihood of the EU imposing sanctions against Armenia in case of non-compliance with the human rights requirements, partnership with the NGOs, the alleged importance of ‘effective multilateralism’ as far as cooperation with the IGOs is concerned, the comparison between Lithuania – as a post Soviet EU member-state – and Armenia in terms of implementation of human rights, donor coordination on the ground, etc.

Mr. Viktors Grapmanis dwelt on the EU’s history and the regulatory standards related to sanitary issues by referring to customs and food safety. The Advisor answered such as questions as the necessary monitoring by civil society representing consumers, the impact on trade with the EU as a result of adoption of better sanitary measures by Armenia, etc. The lecture series offered an understanding about what are the current reforms suggested by the EU and under consideration of the Armenian government, how far the country has ‘travelled’, what are the challenges lying ahead and what the relations promise in future.

The American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in YerevanArmenia.  Founded in 1991, AUA is affiliated with the University of California.  Through teaching, research, and public service, AUA serves Armenia and the region by supplying high-quality, graduate and undergraduate education, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting democratic values.

The AUA is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 985 Atlantic Avenue, #100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510-748-9001.

EU Advisory Group member, Viktors Grampanis, discusses Armenia’s efforts to develop food safety legislation in accordance with European Union food safety standars on December 3, 2012.


EU Advisory Group member, Dalia Zukauskine, discusses national human rights institutions on Wednesday, November 28, 2012.


EU Advisory Group member, Catherine Durieux, discusses justice reforms in Armenia on Friday, November 23, 2012.


EU Advisory Group member, Richard Martinez, discusses the evolving process of crime prevention on Monday, November 26, 2012.