Civil Contract (Armenia)
Civil Contract (Armenian: Քաղաքացիական պայմանագիր, K'aghak'atsiakan paymanagir, ՔՊ, often shortened to Քաղպայմանագիր, K'aghpaymanagir) is a political party in Armenia which was established on July 24, 2013 as an NGO. Its governing board was formed on December 9, 2013. On May 30, 2015, it became a political party. Civil Contract participated in the 2017 Armenian parliamentary election and the 2017 Yerevan City Council election as part of the Way Out Alliance (Yelk). Following the 2018 Armenian Velvet Revolution led by Nikol Pashinyan, a new political alliance rose to prominence known as the My Step Alliance. After the 2018 Armenian parliamentary election, the My Step Alliance gained a ruling majority in the National Assembly.
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The Civil Contract Party has no definite official ideology. Its leader, Nikol Pashinyan, states: “There are no clear lines between political ideologies anymore … in the 21st century, those lines disappeared. It’s not acceptable for me to call our party ‘liberal,’ ‘centrist,’ or ‘social democrat,’ because the goals we have to achieve are beyond ‘-isms.’” Despite this, Pashinyan himself has been described as a radical centrist, a reformist, or a liberal (and occasionally a populist) in favour of a liberal democracy by international media.
The party has announced their goal to double the population of Armenia within the next 20 years, ensure human rights and freedoms of all citizens, eliminate all forms of corruption and to further strengthen and develop the economy while protecting the environment.
Prior to the 2018 election, Civil Contract was in favor of developing closer ties with the European Union and supported Armenia's inclusion in a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the EU. Party leader Nikol Pashinyan was skeptical of Armenia's membership in the Eurasian Union and complained that membership had brought no benefits to Armenia. However, following his electoral victory, Pashinyan changed his official position and announced his support of Armenia's membership in the Eurasian Union. Civil Contract claims that Armenia should not make a choice between the East and the West. Instead, Armenia should become an example and mediator of dialogue and cooperation.
Civil Contract advocates for maintaining strong connections between Armenia and Russia while promoting Eurasian integration with other CIS and Eurasian Union member states. At the same time, Civil Contract does continue to support Armenia's European integration through developing closer ties with the European Union and to eliminate visa requirements for Armenian citizens traveling to the EU's Schengen Area. In October 2019, Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan stated that he sees a lot of potential growth in both economic and political ties with the EU. Avinyan also advised that, "Any future EU accession is a question that the people of Armenia need to answer and would only occur following the withdrawal of Armenia from the Eurasian Union."
In 2019, the party's leader categorically ruled out the prospect of Armenia leaving the EAEU or the CSTO, stating that Armenia would not do a "u-turn" in Foreign Policy. A new party program was adopted, which stated the party's intention for Armenia to "not choose between East and West" and that the country's foreign relations ought to be based on protecting the nation's sovereignty.
Civil Contract also believes in deepening relations with China, Japan, India, Iran, Georgia, Latin America and the Middle East as well as securing international recognition of the Republic of Artsakh and the Armenian Genocide.
Civil Contract first came into the public consciousness on January 23, 2013, when MP Nikol Pashinyan from the opposition bloc publicized a project to establish a new political process in the newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak (The Armenian Times). For several months afterwards, the text of the contract was widely discussed in Armenian political forums. An updated version of the contract was published and Civil Contract, a new political union, was announced on July 24 of that year. The union announced that before its first conference, the text of the contract would be amended and clarified and a detailed road map created.
During fifth convention of the party in June 2019 acting Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Suren Papikyan was elected as Chairman of the 21 member strong governing board.
Civil Contract's governing board was introduced at a December 9, 2013 Ani Plaza Hotel press conference. It was formed to organize the first party convention.
The governing board was:
- Arsen Kharatyan, specialist in Arabic studies
- Arayik Harutyunyan, specialist in Arabic studies with a PhD in history and a Yerevan State University lecturer
- Marine Manucharyan, theologian, NGO director
- Sasun Mikayelyan, commander of the Sasun detachment, member of Yerkrapah and a former MP
- Lena Nazaryan, journalist
- Alen Simonyan, lawyer, editor-in-chief of the Ararat Media Group
- Nikol Pashinyan, former journalist, former MP, prime minister
The Civil Contract Return Fund was established to ensure that the party's funding complies with Armenian law and its activities are democratically organized. Funds donated to Civil Contract will be stored in the fund's account and vault. Accounting will be conducted under the supervision of the board of trustees, which is independent of the governing board and controls the fund's expenditures. According to the party's contract, "Citizens who have donated money or property to the Contract shall have the right to request information on spending, and their demands are to be satisfied within three days' time."[full citation needed]
Board of trusteesEdit
The Civil Contract board of trustees was announced on February 22, 2014. Haykak Arshamyan was elected chairman, and Hakob Simidyan was appointed director of the fund. Members are:
- Lara Aharonian, Women's Resource Center co-founder, director
- Haykak Arshamyan, PhD in history
- Levon Bagramyan, economist, political scientist, Washington, D.C.
- Arthur Ispiryan, musician
- Levon Hovsepyan, economist
- Ara Shirinyan, director
- Maro Matossian, Women's Support Center director
- Edgar Manukyan, PhD in economics, Toronto, Canada
- Sargis Kloyan, businessperson
The Civil Contract governing board published "Financing Politics and Civil Contract", an article touching on the issues of fiscal transparency and financing public and political life in Armenia, on April 26, 2014:
Financing politics is one of the essential entangled knots of the history of the Third Republic. How is the public-political activity financed in Armenia? It's a question the proper answer of which is not known. One can guess, put forward hypotheses, but the society does not have a reliable and verifiable answer to the question ... The most popular answer is that "we are funded by thousands of our supporters". This is an answer, which generates new questions: whom and how do the supporters give the money? Who takes it and under what conditions? How do others learn whether their retainer has donated that much, more or less money ... ? From the very first stage of the debates over establishing “civil contract” public–political union the issues about funding the activities of the contract have been the subject of heated debate. How is the contract going to be financed? Who will be financing it? The answers to these questions were principal for us. And if we have serious ambition to achieve fundamental changes in public–political relations, we need to try to work ourselves out of the Armenian traditional funding mechanisms of political activity. We have formulated the problem the following way: if we need 1000 AMD, we need to find not a single person that will give us that money, but we need to find 1000 people each of whom will donate 1 AMD.[full citation needed]
On March 31, 2018, Civil Contract leader Nikol Pashinyan and his supporters began a 200-kilometre (120 mi) march from Gyumri (Armenia's second-largest city) to the capital, Yerevan, to dissuade Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan from retaining power beyond his legal term limit. On April 17, Nikol Pashinyan announced the start of a national, nonviolent "velvet revolution" to thousands of supporters gathered near the National Assembly. On April 22, several hours after a brief meeting with Sargsyan, Pashinyan was arrested with about 250 other protesters. After mass strikes by organized labor and streets blockaded by over 300,000 protesters (including soldiers and Civil Contract members), Sargsyan resigned on April 23. He said then, "Nikol Pashinyan was right. I was wrong. The movement of the street is against my office. I'm fulfilling your demands." According to contemporaneous reporting by al Jazeera's Robin Forestier-Walker, "Thousands of people are on the streets, cheering and hugging each other, jumping up and down and honking their horns ... things happened so quickly, I don't think the crowd was expecting this, but it is exactly what they wanted".
|2017||part of Way Out Alliance||122,049||7.78||
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|2018||part of My Step Alliance||884,456||70.43||
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Centrist opposition leader Nikol Pashinian ...
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