Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Peter Eriksson will visit Armenia on 21-22 March. Ahead of his visit the Swedish government has announced that it intends to increase its financial support to Armenia, in response to the strong political will to undertake necessary reforms, following the “velvet revolution” of 2018. Meeting the global goals of Agenda 2030 and building public confidence and trust in our democratic systems are examples of challenges that require countries to work together, writes Peter Eriksson.
After two days in Georgia, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, Peter Eriksson, will visit Armenia on 21-22 March. Following his appointment in January 2019, these are the first bilateral visits to be undertaken by the Minister.
Sweden’s increased financial support to Armenia
Peter Eriksson outlines why the Swedish Government will increase its financial support to Armenia in an article published in “Dagens Nyheter”:
“An active democratization process has started in Armenia after the ‘velvet revolution’ and the shift of power during 2018. We see a strong political will to undertake necessary reforms and to strengthen democracy, freedom of expression and other fundamental rights and freedoms.
The fact that the number of women in the newly elected National Assembly has increased is one of the many signs of progressive movement towards change in the country. Therefore, this is the right moment for Sweden to increase its support and contribute to the positive developments in Armenia.”
The opening of a bilateral program for Sweden’s development cooperation with Armenia will mean increased funding for projects in Armenia and make the Swedish support to Armenia more targeted.
Today, Sweden supports several regional projects that benefit Armenia and a small number of bilateral projects. This includes important initiatives aimed at strengthening environmental protection and policy, political and economic empowerment of women and building democratic, resilient and well-functioning public institutions. These sectors will continue to remain important.
Increased focus on support to democratization processes
Peter Eriksson also detailed three priorities for Swedish support to democratization processes in Eastern Europe, which can be summarized as follows:
1. Fighting corruption and building well-functioning institutions will lay the foundation needed for positive development in all other economic and political fields. Reforms of the judicial system aimed at strengthening the principle of the rule of law are of key importance. A society characterized by corruption becomes inefficient and will fail to deliver the necessary public services that are needed to enable positive change.
2. Together with public institutions and civil society organizations Sweden will continue to support the development of more democratic and diverse societies, based on the respect for human rights. It is necessary to continue working towards non-discrimination, greater equality between women and men and ending the violence against women. It is unacceptable that women’s rights originations and LGBT organizations are faced with violence or threats.
3. By supporting free and independent media and journalism we contribute to a more pluralistic media landscape. In many countries the major TV channels or newspapers are controlled by oligarchs, with their own economic and political agenda. Citizens need access to a broader set of media outlets. Revealing and countering disinformation and propaganda must remain a priority. In the broader perspective, building democratic, non-corrupt and resilient public institutions, operating based on the rule of law, is in itself a defense against destabilization efforts.