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April 9, 2002

Raffi K. Hovannisian Founds
The National Citizens' Initiative

Yerevan—Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia's first Minister of Foreign Affairs and founder of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS), launched the National Citizens' Initiative at its new headquarters today.

In the presence of 50 staff members and journalists, Hovannisian remarked: “It is today evident that, with ACNIS's experience as anchor, the National Citizens' Initiative should come forward as one of the imperatives of our time. Its purpose is simple and straightforward: to develop and carry through the very programs, projects, and policies that target development in all aspects of public life. Let us work together. Acting alone, we can often confuse good wishes and harsh realities, but together we make it possible to turn these aspirations into real-life accomplishment.”

“The National Citizens' Initiative is open for responsible civic and national participation. The time is ripe for our combined action with individuals and institutions sharing our concern and commitment. Only in this way might we achieve actual change in the life of one and all. Toward this end we shall do everything under the law and in our power. Join us in empowering Armenia,” Raffi Hovannisian concluded.

The Initiative has been launched with the purpose of realizing the rule of law and overall improvements in the state of the state, society, and public institutions. This entails resolution of several key issues:

  • Engagement and empowerment of citizens in public life;
  • Contemporary reproduction of national values and instruction of individual liberties and civil rights and responsibilities;
  • Practical measures for the strengthening of democracy and democratic standards by means of public initiatives, example-setting activities and their propagation;
  • Programs for the systematic institution of human rights protection, for the civic education of all generations, especially the youth, and for meaningful facilitation of citizens' participation in public affairs;
  • Reevaluation of the legacy of Armenian national thought and traditions, with an eye toward forging reasoned state policies and a public culture that guarantees steady societal progress;
  • Improvement of the legal field based on the principles of distinct separation of powers and public accountability for public officials;
  • Development of lawful normative and administrative acts and provision for their efficient implementation by means of shaping public opinion; and
  • Cultivation of broad support among the body public for systemic reform.

The National Citizens' Initiative is guided by a Coordinating Council, which includes individual citizens and representatives of various public, scientific, and educational institutions. Five commissions on Law and State Administration, Socioeconomic Issues, Foreign Policy, Spiritual and Cultural Challenges, and the Youth constitute the vehicles for the Initiative's work and outreach. The Initiative shall cooperate with local, national, and international organizations for the deepening of relevant civic institutions and development of public decisionmaking processes.

The daily activities of the National Citizens' Initiative will be coordinated by Hrach H. Hakobyan, Armenia's former Minister of State. Hakobyan graduated from the philological department of Yerevan State University in 1978 and started his career as a teacher. From 1979 to 1986, he worked at Yerevan's City Council; from 1986 to 1990, in the Armenian Council of Ministers; from 1990 to 1992, as Chief Administrator of the Armenian Government; in 1992, as Minister of State in charge of regional relations; and from 1993 to 1999, as consultant and manager in the private sector. Since 2000, he has been executive director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies.

The research work of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies will hereafter be directed by Dr. Tatoul Manasserian. Manasserian graduated from Kiev State University in 1984 with a BA degree in economics. In 1987 he defended his PhD thesis at Yerevan State University, and in 1993 received his PhD in economics from the University of Redlands in California. From 1984 to 1989, he was analyst and senior researcher of the Economic Research Corporation in Yerevan. From 1991 to 1997, Manasserian served as president of the “Armentrade” international business consulting firm in Los Angeles. Between 1998 and 2001 he was consultant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, and from 2000 to 2001, head of the international department of the Emergency Management Administration. He is a member of the Western Social Science Association, and was recently elected to the International Academy of Sciences on Nature and Society.

For further information, please call (37410) 27-16-00 or 52-87-80; fax (37410) 52-48-46; e-mail root@acnis.am and NCI_Aghababyan@yahoo.com; or visit our website at http://www.nci.am

The Armenian and Russian versions of the press release are attached.

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The Armenian and Russian versions of the press release:

Armenian version

Russian version

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