INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION OF THE FRANCOPHONIE
General information on the International Organisation of la Francophonie
The International Organisation of la Francophonie (OIF/ Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie) is an international institution established in 1970 and aimed at strengthening and promoting the French language and universal values.
The organisation has 54 full members, 4 associate and 26 observer states. In 32 of these countries, French language has the status of an official language or the second official language. The combined population of countries involved in the OIF is 900 million, of which 274 million are French speaking. The countries involved in the OIF are spread across the five continents. It should be noted, that more than one third of the UN Member states are members of this organisation (official website address: www.francophonie.org).
The International Organisation of la Francophonie considers its primary mission promoting peace, democracy and the human rights, French language and cultural and linguistic diversity, supporting education and training, promoting cooperation with the Office for Sustainable Development, intensifying the dialogue between cultures and civilisations, enhancing the solidarity among member states and governments through multilateral cooperation aimed at strengthening their economic growth.
To do this the OIF develops cooperation programmes in the various areas.
The decision-making body of la Francophonie is the Summit - the meeting of heads of French-speaking states and governments, which is convened every two years. The OIF Secretary General plays a key role in the institutional framework of la Francophonie.
In 2014, at the 15th Summit of la Francophonie in Dakar, Mrs. Michaëlle Jean has been elected as the Secretary General of the OIF.
At the 16th Summit of la Francophonie, the presidency of the Organisation was assumed by Madagascar.
It should be emphasized, that the multilateral cooperation in the area of la Francophonie is carried out by the OIF and its four instruments: the Francophone University Agency (Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie - AUF), TV5Monde international TV channel, Senghor University of Alexandria, (Université Senghor d'Alexandrie) and International Association of French-speaking Mayors (Association Internationale des Maires Francophones - AIMF).
The International Organization of la Francophonie has an advisory body - the Parliamentary Assembly of la Francophonie (APF). It represents the interests and expectations of the French speaking peoples in the executive bodies of OIF, aiming at promoting democracy and the rule of law in these countries and protecting human rights within the Francophone society.
The APF has 52 members, 14 associate members and 17 observer countries.
II Armenia - Francophonie relations
1. Participation of Armenia in the structures of la Francophonie
In 2003, at the Ouagadougou Summit (Burkina Faso), Armenia was granted an observer status in the OIF, and later, in October 2008, at the Summit of Quebec (Canada), it became an Associate Member of the International Organisation of la Francophonie.
Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian actively participates in the Ministerial Conferences of la Francophonie, and starting from the Quebec Summit in 2008, ex officio ensures the presence of Armenia in the meetings of the supreme bodies of la Francophonie.
After Armenia received the status of an associated member, the Foreign Minister of Armenia appointed a special adviser in order to coordinate the Francophone initiatives,
Armenia also has its representative in the Permanent Council of la Francophonie. He is actively involved in the activities of various Francophone agencies, including by chairing the Cooperation and Planning Committee in 2015-2017.
An important role in strengthening of the relations between Armenia and the OIF played the official visit of the General Secretary of the International Organisation of la Francophonie Mr. Abdou Diouf to Armenia in April 2010.
At the 13th Summit of la Francophonie in Montreux (Switzerland), in October 2010, the heads of Member states and governments of la Francophonie, for the first time, expressed their position on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, in the adopted Resolution on Crisis Situations, Crisis Recovery and Peacebuilding in La Francophonie, which particularly states:
"Affirm our full support to the efforts of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group with a view to the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Call on all of the parties in the conflict to refrain from any attempt to use threats or force that might compromise the future of the peace process and negotiations on the basis of the principles proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs as an indivisible whole, as the foundation of a balanced and lasting solution to this conflict."
At the Summit of la Francophonie in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), in October 2012, attended by Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian, Armenia became a full member of the International Organization of la Francophonie, thus becoming the 54th member of the OIF.
At the Summit, the heads of states and governments of la Francophonie, within the framework of the Resolution on Crisis Situations, Crisis Recovery and Peacebuilding, reaffirmed the position adopted at the Summit in Montreux of supporting the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs towards the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, and called once again “on all of the parties in the conflict to refrain from any attempt to use threats or force that might compromise the future of the peace process, suggested to continue the negotiations on the basis of the principles proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs as an indivisible whole, particularly non-use of force or threat of force, territorial integrity and equal rights and the self-determination of peoples, as the foundation of a balanced and lasting solution to this conflict".
This position has been reiterated at the Summits in Dakar (Senegal) in 2014 and Antananarivo (Madagascar) in 2016.
Armenia is also a member of the Network of the national institutions and structures of Central and Eastern Europe dealing with Francophone issues (RESIFECO), which was created in September 2013 and consists of representatives of six countries of the region, full members of la Francophonie (Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova and Romania). The representative of Armenia in the Permanent Council assumed the chairmanship in RESIFECO for 2015-2017.
As a sign of its commitment to the activities of la Francophonie and in order to promote its international propagation, Armenia offered its candidacy for hosting the 31st session of the Ministerial Conference of la Francophonie in October 2015. In November 2014, at the 30th session of the Ministerial Conference of la Francophonie held in Dakar (Senegal), this offer was supported unanimously by the Ministers of Member states of la Francophonie.
On October 10-11, 2015, the 31st session of the Ministerial Conference was held in Yerevan. The President of Armenia, the Secretary General of la Francophonie Michaëlle Jean, as well as representatives of Member states and governments attended the opening ceremony.
During the Ministerial Conference, a rich and fruitful discussions have been held and resolutions were adopted on topics highlighted by Armenia, such as la Francophonie, Region of Peace, Diversity and Dialogue, Issues related to the 21st Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, Genocide prevention.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of commemoration of victims of the Armenian Genocide, the Secretary General of la Francophonie Mme Michaëlle Jean, as well as the Ministers of Member states and governments of la Francophonie visited the Genocide Memorial and paid tribute to the memory of victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Ministerial Conference in Yerevan was a great success, also as an opportunity to discover the rich heritage of the Armenian culture.
Based on this successful experience and guided by the desire to serve the values of la Francophonie, in May 2016, Armenia submitted its candidacy for hosting the 17th Summit of la Francophonie.
At the summit in Antananarivo (Madagascar), on November 27, 2016, the heads of states and governments of la Francophonie designated Armenia as the host country for the next Summit of la Francophonie in 2018.
2. Cooperation between Armenia and the OIF
Armenia develops a close cooperation with the OIF, which is expressed in the realisation of a number of projects.
The membership of Armenia to the Francophone Regional Center for Central and Eastern Europe (CREFECO) in May 2009 provided an opportunity for more than 350 French language teachers from Armenia to participate in national or regional trainings aimed to improve teaching of French as well as non-linguistic subjects taught in French.
In June, 2009, a Memorandum on French language training for the Armenian civil servants was signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, the OIF, the Governments of the French Republic and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and the authorities of the French-speaking community of Belgium.
In October, 2015, as a follow-up to the previous Memorandum, within the framework of the “French in International Relations” programme, a Memorandum of Partnership on National Francophone Initiatives was signed between the OIF, Armenia and 17 OIF member or observer states aimed at strengthening French speaking skills of officials of the Armenian system of administration, who deal with international relations.
Since 2009, dozens of Armenian state officials benefit from the French language trainings, organized by the Alliance Française.
In the framework of the 2012 Kinshasa Summit (the Democratic Republic of Congo), Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Secretary General Abdou Diouf have signed a three-year Linguistic Programme between Armenia and the OIF.
In the implementation of the Linguistic Programme, alongside with the OIF, the Parliamentary Assembly of la Francophonie, the OIF officials, the Francophone University Agency and the International Association of Francophone Mayors, as well as France are involved.
The Linguistic Programme gives an opportunity to create a strong basis for cooperation with la Francophonie in such important spheres as education, culture, communication and tourism.
A number of steps are being taken to spread teaching of the French language. Thus, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia has approved French as the third optional language in schools, as well as opened, with the support of the French side, an advanced French courses in five schools.
Teaching French as the third foreign language generally concerns 8 cities and 18 institutions. In comparison to 2012-2015 the number of French learners in public schools increased by 14.3%.
In June, 2013, in line with the Memorandum of Cooperation on Education signed with the French Embassy in Armenia, an advanced study of French and bilingual curriculum are introduced in Yerevan high school N 119.
In the area of higher education the francophone orientation of the francophone Universities has been strengthened: currently 5 Armenian universities are members of the Francophone University Agency (AUF). The Francophone Digital Center of Yerevan is registered as an official representative office of the AUF in Armenia. With the support of the AUF, two Academic Success Centres are being opened in Yerevan.
Thanks to the series of francophone events, the visibility of the French language has been improved in the country. Thus, two-month long Francophonie seasons in Armenia each year include hundreds of francophone cultural, educational and university events (350 events in 2013, 550 events in 2015, and more than 600 events in 2017) and promote the francophone cultural environment in the country.
The number of nameplates in French at the historical monuments have increased, favorable conditions for francophone tourists are created.
The Francophone Book Corner programme was launched in 2014 and includes a number of large cities of Armenia (Yerevan, Goris, Gyumri, etc.).
The Television and Radio Commission of the Republic of Armenia undertook a commitment to ensure the access of TV 5 MONDE Channel to Armenia by including it in the main package of cable operators.
This summary proves the progress in studying French in Armenia and in the promotion of francophone environment.
Taking into consideration the positive outcome of the actions implemented, an Appendix to the Linguistic Programme between the Republic of Armenia and La Francophonie was signed in April 2016 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Edward Nalbandian and the Secretary General of La Francophonie Michaëlle Jean, renewing it for a further three-year period on the basis of an action plan which have the same priorities.
Armenia is also a stage for important regional francophone initiatives.
In June, 2015 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia and the International Organisation of la Francophonie have organised the first regional workshop on Gender Equality in Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe. Representatives of Governments and civil society organisations from six member countries of the OIF from the region (Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Romania) participated in the workshop.
In October, 2017 the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia will organise the 3rd International French language Olympiad, in collaboration with the OIF and the Ministries of Education and educational institutions of the six countries from the region.
In 2017 a Memorandum of Partnership on Educational Cooperation will be signed between the OIF and the relevant Ministries of the six countries from the region.
Ahead of the 2018 Yerevan Summit, other youth and culture related activities will be jointly organised by Armenia and the OIF.
3. Armenia's cooperation with the Parliamentary Assembly of la Francophonie and the officials of the OIF Parliamentary level
On July 5, 2009, the National Assembly of Armenia became an associated member of the Parliamentary Assembly of la Francophonie (APF). Until 2014, Armenia was a beneficiary of the APF’s "NORIA" programme, which, in particular, organised French language courses for Armenian MPs and parliament officials, made donations to documentation funds, and assisted in the translation of the National Assembly's official website into French.
In May, 2010, the APF European Regional session was held at the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia.
In 2014 the Parliament of Armenia became a full member of the APF.
In April, 2015, Armenia hosted the forum of the Presidents of the European Regional Sections of the APF.
On May 11, 2016, with the support of the National Assembly of Armenia and the APF, the Armenian-French Youth Parliament was officially launched in the National Assembly Hall with the aim to promote the civilian involvement of young people and encourage studying of parliamentary activities.
In October 2010, the Francophone University Agency (AUF) signed an agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia on establishing a Francophone Digital Centre to be hosted at the Yerevan State Linguistic University after V. Brusov.
The AUF develops partner relations with Armenian universities, which are members of its network - French University in Armenia, Yerevan State Linguistic University after V. Brusov, Yerevan State University, National University of Architecture and Construction and Armenian State Pedagogical University.
In March, 2011, the Armenian branch of the International Network of Senghor Chairs of la Francophonie was opened at the French University in Armenia, which aims to promote teaching of French and to make la Francophonie with its diverse institutional, political, cultural and economic aspects more visible.
In July, 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding on Implementation of Joint Scientific and Academic Projects was signed between the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia and the AUF.
Francophone Decentralized Cooperation
In 1998 the city of Yerevan was the first to establish institutional relations with la Francophonie, becoming a member of the International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF).
In October 2010 Yerevan hosted first Armenian-French sessions on decentralized cooperation attended by about 30 French self-governing bodies. During this event, francophonie was defined as one of the primary directions of decentralized cooperation. This approach was later confirmed during similar meetings held in Valence in 2013 and in Yerevan in 2016.
In October, 2011, the General Assembly of the AIMF took place in Yerevan, with mayors of more than 150 member cities participating. During the meeting of the Assembly the Union of Communities of Armenia became a member of the Association.
The AIMF supports the cultural and educational institutions of Yerevan, particularly by providing language labs to a number of primary and high schools in Yerevan.
In 2011 the Lori region of Armenia became a member of the International Association of Francophone Regions.
Armenia participates in various institutional networks of la Francophonie, like Union of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions of Francophonie (UCESIF) from June, 2015, and the Association of Human Rights Defenders and Mediators of la Francophonie (AOMF) from October, 2015.