strengthen bilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interest based on shared values. It is my pleasure to welcome the start of important initiatives that will benefit from EU funding,” he noted.

Armenian-EU-Flag-_mixed_The majority of projects focus on supporting respect for human rights and are implemented by international and local civil society. Over the next two-three years, they will promote civil society dialogue, strengthen freedom of expression, rule of law, advance gender equality and combat gender-based sex-selective abortions in Armenia. They will also promote the integration of Syrian refugees in the country and assist children without parents.

Other EU-funded initiatives will provide technical assistance for reforms in agriculture and rural development in Armenia, strengthening new and existing producer groups and supporting institution building of the Ministry of Agriculture. They will accompany the overall EU sector support program for the development of agriculture and rural areas.

Poverty reduction and sustainable development is the goal of four of the new contracts to be implemented through non-state actors and local authorities. They will help minimize social and economic hardship of rural communities in Shirak, develop sustainable tourism, promote ecological beekeeping in Vayots Dzor and improve public services in Jujevan, Baghanis, and Voskevan.

Another action will provide access to renewable and efficient energy in the municipalities Vayq and Spitak.

Most of the new projects are the result of global and local calls for proposals through the Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the thematic program on “Non-state actors and local authorities in development.