IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Integrated Social Services System in Armenia and Ukraine
International Conference “Integrated Social Services System in Armenia and Ukraine” was held on 9 June in Armavir (Armenia). The conference was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic within the framework of the Eastern Partnership (EaP). Armavir Development Center (Armenia) and Bureau of Social and Political Developments (Ukraine), members of the EaP CSF Working Group 5 “Social & Labour Policies and Social Dialogue”, are working on the programme that promotes the social services reform in the participating states and provides for the possibility of the best practices exchange among CSOs.
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine to Armenia Ivan Kukhta and Deputy Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Armenia Ani Saginyanova took part in the conference. The diplomats noted the important role of the civil society representatives in the rapprochement of Armenia, Ukraine and the European Union.
In his welcome speech the head of the “Armavir Development Center” Naira Arakelyan briefed the guests on the main objectives of the project “Integrated Social Services System” and noted that the aim of the program is the research on the integrated social services system in Armenia and Ukraine, as well as the development of the social services market.
Rostislav Dzundza, Chairman of the Board of “Bureau of Social and Political Developments“, thanked the representative of the Czech Embassy for the contribution of his country in lobbying for the Eastern Partnership initiative, namely for the the first time support provided to the project aimed at reforming the social services. Unfortunately, the social sector is not very developed in the framework of the EaP policy, therefore the financing of this project gives hope for the development of the social policy, security and social services market in the EaP countries. A platform on social policy and social dialogue that would represent at the interstate level the process of the social sector reform in the partner countries has not yet been created within the system of the ENP and EaP implementation.
Adviser to the Minister for Social Policy Areg Savgulyan presented the work of the Centre for the Social Services Provision in Armavir, one of the 19 pilot centres financed by the World Bank. The Centre operates accoring to the "one stop shop" principle and provides both social and consulting services on the social security, medical examination, retirement benefits and employment issues. From 2018 such centres will be funded by the local budgets.
Leonid Ilchuk, Deputy Director of the Research Institute for Labor and Employment of the Ministry of Social Policy and the National Academy of Sciences (Ukraine), said that there are many similarities in the development of social services in Ukraine and Armenia. For instance, the need to create the one stop shop for social security that would comprise all kinds of social benefits and social services at the local level. The Institute has already developed many proposals in this field, which will be useful not only for Ukraine and Armenia, but for the whole Eastern Partnership.
Igor Kaminnik, Secretary of the Coordination and Expertise Council for Social Policy of the Ministry of Social Policy and National Academy of Sciences (Ukraine), noted that this conference is very timely for his country. The Coordination and Expertise Council is developing a model of reforming the social services system for the Ministry of Social Policy, taking into account the decentralization. Armenia's experience is important for improving the Ukrainian system. In its turn, the Ukrainian experience of engaging NGOs in the development of the social services market, can become an important factor of social services reform in Armenia.
The joint implementation of the project will allow to understand the real status quo in the social services system in Armenia and Ukraine. On its basis the package of proposals for the social services system improvment in both countries will be developed. These proposals will be presented at the national level, both in Ukraine and Armenia.