Armenia on the Horizon of Europe

Successes and Shortcomings of Democratization Efforts by European Organizations in a Post-Soviet State

by Anahit Babayan (Author)
©2016 Thesis 199 Pages


This book provides a critical review of the achievements and challenges of European organizations promoting democracy in the Republic of Armenia. Armenia is a post-transition country and yet not a consolidated democracy. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe, and the European Union with its Neighbourhood Policy have been actively engaged in the country’s democratization process. A central question is to what extent reforms and recommendations have been accepted in Armenia, and whether they convey real implementations. By analyzing the organizations’ activities and recommendations, this book explains how projects overlap, whether they reveal an interlocking or interblocking nature, and when they cause unintended side effects.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Preface
  • Contents
  • 1. Introduction
  • 1.1 Overview
  • 1.2 Literature Review
  • 1.2.1 External Democracy Promotion
  • 1.2.2 Economy and Democracy
  • 1.2.3 Challenges and Shortcomings of Democracy Promotion
  • 1.2.4 Literature on Armenia
  • 1.3 Theories
  • 1.3.1 International Organization and Socialization
  • 1.3.2 International Dimension of Democracy: Linkage and Leverage
  • 1.3.3 Conditionality and Incentives
  • 1.3.4 Democratic Globalization and Critical Junctures
  • 1.3.5 Application to the Armenian Case
  • 1.4 Methodology
  • 1.4.1 The Problem
  • 1.4.2 Research Questions
  • 1.4.3 Data Collection
  • 1.4.4 Fieldwork
  • 2. Historic Facts
  • 2.1 Chapter Overview
  • 2.2 Historic Developments
  • 2.3 Soviet Armenia
  • 2.4 Democratic Aspects of 1989 for Armenia
  • 2.5 Independence
  • 2.6 Foreign Policy of Armenia
  • 2.7 Leaders
  • 2.8 Chapter Conclusion
  • 3. OSCE and Armenia
  • 3.1 Chapter Overview
  • 3.2 OSCE in a Historical Perspective
  • 3.3 Armenia’s Membership to the OSCE
  • 3.4 Role of the OSCE in Armenia
  • 3.5 OSCE Office in Armenia
  • 3.6 Achievement of the OSCE
  • 3.7 Chapter Conclusion
  • 4. Council of Europe and Armenia
  • 4.1 Chapter Overview
  • 4.2 Council of Europe in a Historical Perspective
  • 4.3 Armenia’s Membership in the Council of Europe
  • 4.4 Achievements of the Council of Europe
  • 4.4.1 Commitments
  • 4.4.2 Legislation and Electoral Code
  • 4.4.3 Constitutional Reform
  • 4.4.4 Council of Europe’s Important Works in Armenia
  • 4.4.5 Monitoring Procedures
  • 4.4.6 Punitive Measure of the Council of Europe
  • 4.5 Armenian Official Stance with Regard to the Council of Europe
  • 4.6 Chapter Conclusion
  • 5. EU – Armenia Relations in the Context of ENP and EaP
  • 5.1 Chapter Overview
  • 5.2 EU Armenia Relations in a Historical Perspective
  • 5.3 Achievements
  • 5.4 Security Dimension
  • 5.5 Economic Dimension
  • 5.6 Internal Political Dimension
  • 5.6.1 Government and Political Parties
  • 5.6.2 Non-Governmental Groups and Media
  • 5.6.3 Civil Society
  • 5.7 Chapter Conclusion
  • 6. Challenges of European Organizations
  • 6.1 Chapter Overview
  • 6.2 Obstacles of European Organizations facing in Armenia
  • 6.2.1 Relationship between the European Organization and the Armenian Authorities
  • 6.2.2 Relationship between European Organizations and Armenian Civil Society Organizations
  • 6.2.3 Relationship of the European Organizations with the Armenian General Public
  • 6.3 Deficiency and Shortcoming of Democratic Assistance
  • 6.3.1 Lack of Representation
  • 6.3.2 Lack of Transparency
  • 6.3.3 Lack of Strategic Aim and Goal
  • 6.3.4 Lack of Expertise
  • 6.3.5 Lack of Civil Society Inclusion
  • 6.3.6 Lack of Finance
  • 6.3.7 Other Shortcomings
  • 6.4 Chapter Conclusion
  • 7. Unintended Side Effects of European Organizations
  • 7.1 Chapter Overview
  • 7.2 Interblocking or Interblocking Nature of European Organizations
  • 7.3 Negative Unintended Side Effects of European Organizations
  • 7.3.1 Deterioration of the Image of European Norms
  • 7.3.2 Loss of Trust towards European Organizations
  • 7.3.3 Inefficiency due to Encouraging Wrong Allocation of Resources
  • 7.4 Chapter Conclusion
  • 8. Conclusion
  • 8.1 Questions for Future Research
  • 9. References
  • 9.1 Works Cited
  • 9.2 Sources and Websites
  • Appendix I: List of Interviewees
  • Armenian Political Parties or Ministry
  • Armenian NGOs
  • European Experts and European Organization Officials
  • Background Discussions
  • Appendix II: Dates and Abbreviations
  • Important Dates for Armenia
  • Abbreviations

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1. Introduction

1.1 Overview

Two decades have passed since the independence of Armenia in 1991 and its membership into international organizations. Armenia’s foreign policy has been modified according to its strategic needs and opportunities. The threefold transition – political, economic, and social – was a major challenge for the new Armenian government who, at the time of coming into power, had to struggle with the external threat of already being at war with the eastern neighbor Azerbaijan for Nagorno Karabakh region and the worsening political relations with their western neighbor Turkey. The blockage created further social, economic and later political problems for Armenia. The Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan and some villages of Nagorno Karabakh, as well the victims of the 1988 earthquake in north of Armenia were a crucial issue for the new government and the young state. The difficult years passed and after some time the economic situation improved, however, the mentality and social behavior of the Armenian society changed over time. The notions of getting basic food and other needs on very low earnings meant that the people struggled and diverted them from the idea of giving attention to democratic values. This did not follow the way they started at the beginning of the 1990s. Armenia was one of the first nations that democratically voted for its independence separating it from the Soviet Union. In the modern history of the Republic of Armenia, the first presidential elections in 1991 were the most successful elections the country has seen, because they were considered fair and free, which is different from the parliamentary and presidential elections since then.

Of course, the level of democracy in a country is not only evaluated based on free and fair elections. During the last two decades, especially after the third wave of democratization that happened after the collapse of the socialist block, apparently the international community has considered election results as a benchmark for level of democracy. By time, in order for the international organizations to play a strategic role in states, they gave importance to the democracy assistance promotion policies. Their assistance in advising and recommending a democratic system to countries in transition has made them ← 11 | 12 → very important partners. However, their assistance in both consulting and through financial means has not been done for mere solidarity: they have their own interest in having a strong and influential role in different countries. Playing the role as a good example for the democracy advocates, meanwhile they register their own deficiencies and weaknesses. By conducting various but similar projects at the same time without coordination, they create the problem of overlapping and even sometimes have an interblocking nature. Of course, there are registered achievements so far, and the countries tend towards better democratic conditions, nevertheless, the negative, most probably unintended side effects also subsist. This thesis aims at clarifying those challenges, shortcomings, and unintended side effects of European organizations in promoting democracy in Post-Soviet Armenia.

The first part reviews the literature and talks about the current state of research on the topic of external democratization side effects and literature related to the specific characteristic of the Armenian cases.

Methodology section gives detailed information about the methods used to obtain the research results. Based on the qualitative research, the case study on Armenia is applied. The European organizations are picked according to their importance of democracy promotion strategies.

The next chapters are the empirical part. Chapter 2 reviews Armenia’s history, in saying that without usable democratic past, new, independent Armenia started to struggle on the path to its political, economic, and social transition. After the establishment of the new political system, the economy started to modernize and change. The conflict that persists until now is an obstacle for economic, political, and social transition and gives little hope for better conditions in those fields. Membership in different European organizations as a new foreign policy has helped Armenia to achieve new goals and opened new opportunities.

The next three chapters, chapter 3, 4 and 5 give general information about the membership criteria in different European organizations such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe (CoE), and the EU’s European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and Eastern Partnership (EaP). Each organization is taken separately to discuss its achievements in promoting democracy in Armenia.

Accordingly, chapters 6 and 7 are related to the challenges and deficiencies of European organizations while promoting democracy in Armenia, and the ← 12 | 13 → unintended negative side effects of those organizations. It states that, based on the many points mentioned in the deficiency section, the process of democracy promotion also creates unintended side effects. In many cases, overlapping of projects occurs which also creates unintended side effects.

Finally, the last chapter explains how the slogans of democratization in the world create critical junctures. Because in the globalized world, promotion of democracy has been a wide spread foreign policy strategy of many developed countries, especially those of the EU, the critical juncture of such a process is present in the case study of Armenia as well. The chapter summarizes the successes, shortcomings, deficiencies and unintended side effects of European organizations and mentions the limitations of the study.

Why is it important for us to know about the challenges and negative side effects of the work of European organizations promoting democracy in Armenia? The answer is rather simple but at the same time has a deep meaning, and the roots go far beyond the Armenian case. When this question is raised at conferences or oral presentations, a counter question could be: “Don’t you want to know where, how, and with what result resources are being spent by European structures?” The answer that raises immediate attention is one that directly relates to the audience, that is how their own money is spent. People are eager to care about this topic more and discuss, analyze and understand how things are happening, and thus how negative side effects could be abolished.

This is one side of the coin. The other side is the one of the Armenian people that do care about what possible negative side effects the work of these organizations might create during their presence in Armenia. For Armenian citizens it is important to have sustainable development, and they appreciate the benefits of positive changes. However, not everything always develops the way it should. Thus, for Armenians it is of vital importance to realize that not all given grants and activities applied always generate positive results.

The importance of this research is to clarify the positive as well as negative outcomes of the work of European organizations in Armenia. Moreover, conclusions about policy changes and recommendations resulting from this research might help to improve the manner and working style of those important organizations. Experiences from a specific case study can be a potentially valuable example of future development and improvement options. The present research also slightly touches the relationship between the ← 13 | 14 → organizations under investigation with the neighboring countries in the Caucasus region, such as Georgia and Azerbaijan. In those comparative countries, the negative side effects and challenges for the work of European organizations seem to be similar which emphasizes the importance of policy changes of the European organizations.

This research adds on the current literature analyzing and evaluating international efforts of external democracy promotion. It illustrates the specificity of the Armenian example, its culture and historic developments which affect the policies and agendas of the organizations and it suggests new changes and improvements in the European democracy promotion techniques.

1.2 Literature Review


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2016 (April)
OSCE Council of Europe ENP Unintended side effects
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 199 pp.

Biographical notes

Anahit Babayan (Author)

Anahit Babayan, born in Yerevan, Armenia, studied Economics at Haigazian University and International Affairs at the Lebanese American University, both in Beirut, Lebanon. She was a PhD student and a Junior Researcher at the Center for Area Studies of Leipzig University, Germany.


Title: Armenia on the Horizon of Europe