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Armenia on the Horizon of Europe

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


Anahit Babayan

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.
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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,...

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