By Emil A. Souleimanov and Anton Barbashin
May 31, 2018, the CACI Analyst
The “Velvet revolution” in Armenia raised concerns about the possibility of a Russian intervention in this South Caucasian republic, for the sake of preventing Russia’s key ally in the region from slipping into “Maidanization” and Armenia escaping Moscow’s foreign political and security orbit. Yet events that unfolded illustrated Moscow’s rather ambiguous attitude toward the country’s bottom-up regime change, something that Russian elites, fearful as they are of Western-inspired “color revolutions”, have otherwise done their best to forestall. The explanation for Moscow’s reception of Armenia’s revolution lies in Russia’s clout in Armenia, the character of the popular demonstrations and the regime, and Nikol Pashinyan’s reassuring stance toward Moscow and its interests throughout his campaign.
By Armen Grigoryan
May 2, 2018, the CACI Analyst
A predictable attempt by Armenia’s former President Serzh Sargsyan to continue ruling the country as prime minister after the transition to a parliamentary system triggered a massive protest campaign. Despite previous experiences of rather unsuccessful protests, often violently suppressed by police, a new protest movement managed to mobilize wide public support. On April 23, six days after his appointment as prime minister, Sargsyan resigned in the face of mass protests and a civil disobedience campaign. The protest actions will likely continue, with demands including the appointment of an opposition representative as the head of a provisional government and snap parliamentary elections.
By Natalia Konarzewska
April 2, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On March 2, Armenia’s National Assembly elected Armen Sargsyan as president. This was the first presidential election in Armenia after the constitutional amendments adopted in 2015, which envisage a shift from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary system of government. The new system limits the president’s role to a ceremonial figure, while allocating more executive power to the prime minister who will be nominated in April when incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan’s (not related) term ends. The new president’s strong foreign policy credentials will expectedly advance Armenia’s interests abroad, which is especially important as the country hopes to rekindle relations with Euro-Atlantic structures.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
January 8, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On December 6, 2017, the Armenian Parliament unanimously ratified the Armenian-Russian US$ 100 million “state export loan.” The accord, signed on October 24, allows Yerevan to borrow funds for purchasing a wide range of sophisticated arms manufactured by Russia in order to implement the “Common Defense Sector Development Plan.” This is Moscow’s second programmed military loan to Armenia, following the US$ 200 million loan agreed in 2015 which is now in the final stage of realization. The pending loan is intended to allow Yerevan to uphold its consistent procurement of military hardware since 2011 in an effort to negate Azerbaijan’s military-technical superiority.
By Armen Grigoryan
December 21, 2017, the CACI Analyst
The new framework agreement between Armenia and the European Union creates some opportunities to implement governance reforms and to amend the legal framework, which would improve the investment climate. The new agreement excludes free trade provisions which would contradict Armenia’s commitment to the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Meanwhile, EEU membership continues to undermine the welfare of Armenian citizens, despite previous official assurances, while the lack of political will deriving from both internal and external factors may potentially limit the government’s readiness to implement reforms.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.