The Civilitas Foundation (Armenian: Սիվիլիթաս հիմնադրամ) is an Armenian non-profit organization based in Yerevan, Armenia, and established in October 2008 by Armenia's former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vartan Oskanian. It is a development agency and think tank directed by Salpi Ghazarian that works to strengthen civil society, promote democracy, economic development and education in Armenia, and facilitate dialogue between Armenia and the international community on a number of pertinent political issues. In doing so, Civilitas has strengthened the ties between Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora.
The Civilitas Council on International Relations advocates peace and stability in the Caucasus through multifaceted dialogue and open discourse. It hosts monthly discussion forums which inform Armenia’s opinion and policy making process and the international academic, political and media communities about Armenia’s foreign and domestic policy choices, options and actions in the context of Armenia’s national security challenges. Through public and private discussions, research and publications, the Council promotes the Armenian perspective internationally and domestically.
Since its establishment, the Council has published two Annual Reports on the state of Armenia, providing the only in-depth analysis of Armenia’s current political standing. The 2008 Report on Armenia was entitled Crisis and Opportunity; 2009, Promise and Reality. Civilitas has also published a detailed graph of Armenia’s 2010 State Budget, mapping out the budget’s fundamental categories and their sub-categories.
The Council on International Relations organized the Neighbors About Each Other project with support from USAID, Eurasia Partnership Foundation and the Hrank Dink Foundation. The project offers translations of articles from both the Turkish and Armenian press – Turkish articles about Armenia and Armenians are translated into Armenian and made available to Armenian publications, and Armenian articles about Turkey and the Turkish people are translated into Turkish and made available to Turkish publications. All articles are translated into English for the benefit of the international community. Www.CaucasusNeighbors.com offers an archive of the translations.
The Democracy and Development Initiative of the Civilitas Foundation supports and promotes democratization in Armenia. Currently the initiative is focusing on rural development and education projects.
The Civilitas Foundation initiates, executes and backs projects which facilitate, support sustainable, comprehensive and even development in Armenia's villages, enabling villagers to live a self-reliant, dignified life in Armenia's border areas. From small social and economic undertakings to larger infrastructure projects, the Foundation works with donors and implementers to assure an inclusive, comprehensive approach.
The Rural Economic Facilitation Program’s main initiative is the Dairy Production Assistance Program, which sells cows and milking machines to Armenian farmers on a microfinance loan basis. The farmers pay back in full the price of the cow or milking machine within ten months, and that money is used to buy a cow or milking machine for another farmer, thereby increasing the number of beneficiaries.
The Libraries as Centers of Civil Society project supports and strengthens public libraries in a number of rural and urban communities throughout Armenia, in order to transform them into true centers of community life providing a number of services to the population. With funds from the US Embassy, the Civilitas Foundation is currently rebuilding 10 libraries in the Armenian provinces and stocking them with new books in both Armenian and English.
The Civilitas Generation Center was designed to support new approaches and solutions to Armenia's geographic, economic and experiential limitations. In keeping with its mission, the Generation Center has developed a database of existing NGOs in Armenia entitled www.Civil.am. With the help of participating NGOs, Civilitas continues to update the database, which will serve to introduce good projects to good people, help NGOs identify alternative sources of support, and link new initiatives with existing experience.