Opening conference on the“@MediaSocieties – Armenia 2019“ project

Mesrop Harutyunyan (at the lectern), Prof. Dr. Hektor Haarkötter, Dipl.-Jur. Thomas Wierny, Dr. Frederik Ferreau (first row, auditorium, from left to right)
Mesrop Harutyunyan (at the lectern), Prof. Dr. Hektor Haarkötter, Dipl.-Jur. Thomas Wierny, Dr. Frederik Ferreau (first row, auditorium, from left to right)
Armenia

The opening conference on the “@MediaSocieties – Armenia 2019“ project took place in Yerevan on 15 July 2019. The event was attended by about forty participants and covered topics such as transparency, good media governance and journalistic ethics. The Permanent Representative of the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Armenia, Klaus Wendelberger, also took part and opened the event. Welcome addresses were also given by Amalia Wuckert for the IRZ and Boris Navasardyan as President of the Yerevan Press Club (YPC). Thomas Wierny, who supports the project as an expert in media and press law, moderated the conference, presented the project concept and gave an introduction to the expert sessions.

Further speakers at the conference were:

  • Dr. Shushan Doydoyan, Chairwoman of the Freedom of Information Center,
  • Dr. Frederik Ferreau, Institute for Media and Communications Law, University of Cologne,
  • Gegham Vardanyan, producer of Media.am,
  • Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, LL.M., Institute for Information, Telecommunications and Media Law (ITM), Westfälische Wilhelms University of Muenster,
  • Mesrop Harutyunyan, assistant lecturer at the Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences, and
  • Prof. Dr. Hektor Haarkötter, Professor for Communication Studies with a Focus on Political Communication at the University of Applied Sciences of Bonn-Rhein-Sieg.

During the final panel discussions, the experts Mesrop Harutyunyan, Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, Prof. Dr. Hektor Haarkötter and Boris Navasardyan exchanged their views regarding the particular responsibility of the media in times of election campaigns.

Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, Prof. Dr. Hektor Haarkötter, Mesrop Harutyunyan, Boris

Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel, Prof. Dr. Hektor Haarkötter, Mesrop Harutyunyan, Boris Navasardyan, Thomas Wierny during the final panel discussion (from left to right)

The conference met with a great deal of interest by media professionals. The participants repeatedly pointed out the importance of this event for Armenia in the present phase.

The continuation of the project is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year. At first, several subsequent workshops are planned, which will be attended by Armenian and German experts from various areas of media and media regulation to deal with these topics in detail. It is planned to compile the results of these workshops in a paper reflecting the current state of discussions and indicating in which way the new regulation should be directed in the participants’ opinion.

Following up on the workshops, a final event will take place at the beginning of December, where the draft papers will be presented to a larger audience for discussion. The aim is to debate the considerations and results also with those players who did not take part in the workshops, and to consult on the implementation of the concepts.

About the project

The “@MediaSocieties – Armenia 2019“ project is aimed at supporting the freedom and diversity of the media and pluralism of opinions in Armenia and at strengthening the journalistic profession. The project is financed by the Federal Foreign Office within the “Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia“ programme.

The project addresses media professionals, players in the media market and the respective fields of science in Armenia. 

The target groups are: 

  • representatives of TV broadcasting stations, newspapers and radio stations,
  • bloggers,
  • online editors and
  • law professionals from science and practice.

The IRZ’s partner organisation in Armenia for this project is the Yerevan Press Club. The YPC supports the development of free, independent and qualified media seeking to strengthen the development of democracy and civil society in Armenia. 

Thomas Wierny, an expert in the field of media and press law, supports the preparation and implementation of the project. 

Three joint events with the Armenian Bar Association

Ara Zohrabyan (2nd from left), President of the Armenian Bar Association, IRZ expert lawyer Jan Helge Kestel (on his right) and members of the Ethics Council for the Armenian Bar Association
Ara Zohrabyan (2nd from left), President of the Armenian Bar Association, IRZ expert lawyer Jan Helge Kestel (on his right) and members of the Ethics Council for the Armenian Bar Association
Armenia

At the request of the Armenian Bar Association, the IRZ, together with the German Federal Bar Association (BRAK), organised three events on professional ethics for lawyers and dealing with the media and publicity work.

The series of events began with a workshop on professional ethics for lawyers for members of the Ethics Council of the Armenian Bar Association. This took place on 12 and 13 May 2019 in Tsagkhadzor. Lawyer Jan Helge Kestel from the Caemmerer Lenz law firm in Erfurt was invited to the workshop as a speaker. As President of the Thuringian Bar Association and a member of the Committee for Press and Publicity Work at the German Federal Bar Association, Jan Helge Kestel is an acknowledged expert in the subject, which was introduced by the President of the Armenian Bar Association, Ara Zohrabyan. Ara Zohrabyan talked about the situation and status of professional ethics for lawyers in Armenia and about the code of honour. Afterwards, the participants in the workshop discussed the following topics at length:

  • Introduction to the professional regulations for lawyers in Germany (system of chambers, control, organisation),
  • general aspects of professional ethics for lawyers in Germany,
  • professional regulations for lawyers, 
  • possible sanctions and other measures within the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal
  • company law for lawyers in Germany,
  • in-house legal advisers – fundamentals and peculiarities
  • remuneration systems, 
  • marketing for lawyers from an ethical point of view and
  • the system for specialist lawyers.

On the following two days, seminars were held on how bar associations should deal with the media and handle their publicity work. The two seminars on the same topics took place on 14 May in Yerevan and on 15 May in Gyumri. About 40 lawyers took part in each event and showed a great deal of interest in each case. Following an introduction by Hayk Hakobyan, Press officer at the Armenian Bar Association, who spoke about the relationship with the Armenian media, Jan Helge Kestel and lawyer Stephanie Beyrich, Managing Director and Press Officer at the German Federal Bar Association (BRAK), presented the communications strategy at the BRAK, reported on their own personal experiences of publicity work and gave lectures on the following topics: 

  • A comparison between press work at national and regional level,
  • defining the relationships between journalists and the BRAK and journalists and regional bar associations,
  • points of reference for successful press work, 
  • tools of successful press work, including network and press distributors, press releases, information services at the BRAK, events for journalists,
  • dealing with negative press,
  • areas of tension between (regional) press work and the duty of confidentiality.

Both of these seminars took place in addition to the event held in December 2018, which not all the 70 interested lawyers were free to attend at the time. The Armenian Bar Association had therefore asked the IRZ to repeat this seminar twice more to give those interested an opportunity to attend and to include lawyers from other regions by holding a seminar in Gyumri. This meant that a total of 95 participants were able to benefit from the three events.

Workshop on publicity work with the Armenian Bar Association

Participants in the workshop with the Armenian Bar Association
Participants in the workshop with the Armenian Bar Association
Armenia

On 13 December 2018, a workshop was held in Yerevan with the cooperation of the Armenian Bar Association on the publicity work of bar associations. The event was organised and carried out together with the German Federal Bar Association (BRAK). The workshop was opened by the President of the Armenian Bar Association, Ara Zohrabyan, the IRZ project coordinator in Armenia, Nelly Tumasyan, and BRAK Managing Director and lawyer, Dr. Veronika Horrer.

The Press Officer for the Armenian Bar Association, Hayk Hakobyan, then gave a speech on relations between the Armenian Bar Association and the Armenian media. Afterwards, Stephanie Beyrich, a lawyer and BRAK Managing Director and Press Officer, and Jan Helge Kestel, a lawyer and President of the Thuringian Bar Association and member of the Committee for Press and Publicity Work at BRAK, presented the PR strategy of the German Federal Bar Association (BRAK). The main focus of the workshop was on the following topics: 

  • Comparisons between press work in Germany at a national level (German Federal Bar Association, BRAK) and at a regional level (regional bar associations, RAK);
  • relations between the BRAK and journalists;
  • points of reference for press work; 
  • a field report from the points of view of the BRAK Press Officer and a President of a regional bar association;
  • the tools of successful press work.

Around 45 Armenian lawyers attended the event and took an active part in the discussions. 

The workshop was met with such a favourable response that representatives of the Armenian Bar Association expressed the desire to organise the same event for lawyers from the capital and surrounding regions in Yerevan and at two other locations.