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  • Author: Stepan Grigoryan, Hasmik Grigoryan
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: This paper is part of CTR's Working Paper Series: "Eastern Voices: Europe's East Faces an Unsettled West." With the growing tension between East and West, and with the rejection by Russia of common international rules, the question how the post-Soviet states should construct their foreign relations remains of utmost importance. Armenia, a landlocked country in the South Caucasus, has yet to accomplish its transition from socialism to democracy and market economy. Moreover, efforts along these lines have regressed, and the authorities do little to implement reforms or to establish a healthy system of checks and balances. In recent months the country has been overwhelmed by protests. The authorities neither address domestic problems nor satisfy protestor demands. Instead the Armenian government frequently resorts to disproportionate use of police forces against peaceful protestors. With political prisoners and hundreds of detained civil activists, journalists and politicians, it will be impossible to build an independent and prosperous country. Armenia has a rich history and culture, but at the same time it has experienced dark historical periods. The Armenian Genocide of 1915 and the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict shape Armenian identity. However, such historical issues have been instrumentalized by the Armenian government. Instead of building the future, Armenian authorities emphasize the past. Policies based on past grievances lead the Armenian government to become more and more dependent on Russia. Armenia needs to tackle corruption, falsified elections, a corrupt judiciary and many other problems -- and Western partners whose efforts are based on democratic values, free and fair elections, and respect towards human rights have a crucial role to play. This chapter offers background on Armenia's relations with various actors, historical matters that shape Armenian identity, and the failure and lack of will to improve the country's current situation. It then discusses the role of the West and its importance for Armenia. We seek to answer why Armenia slowed down its reform efforts, what the West needs to do to improve the situation in Armenia.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Corruption, Genocide, International Cooperation, Reform, Political Prisoners, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe, Armenia, European Union