Arsen was born and raised in Kislovodsk, Russia. He is a graduate of Saint Petersburg State University with a specialization in International Relations and has experience in PR and lecturing. “I think that it’s very important to protect human rights and democracy in Armenia, to offer alternative views on issues,” says Arsen, explaining his motivation to volunteer at Civilitas and to contribute to the Russia-related media products of CivilNet.
Alan Vahe Grigorian is from California. He recently obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Economics and is waiting to go to law school. Alan had been a Birthright volunteer in Armenia in 2013 and decided to volunteer at Civilitas because, “It offers a comprehensive opportunity to get acquainted with developments occurring in Armenia through various projects, reports and studies.” Alan will support CivilNet’s English language production crew in the coming few months.
We welcome our new volunteers and wish them an insightful experience at Civilitas.
Want to volunteer? Think about a 3 month stay at a central-Yerevan institution with excellent contacts and great outreach. Best of all, just working with our staff will give you language skills and insights hard to come by as a visitor.
This is the sixth year that the Civilitas Foundation publishes its annual report. We look back at the past year and attempt to assess and analyze Armenia’s foreign policy, domestic developments and trends, as well as the economic situation in the country – all within the context of a changing global and regional environment.
In a year with two elections – presidential and Yerevan municipal – hopes and expectations were high that this time, something would be different, and the elections would be perceived as legitimate, regardless of who came out on top. After all, in the absence of a strong opposition candidate, it was reasonable to expect that there would not be a need to utilize administrative resources to guarantee a re-election. This expectation was not met, but there was a surprise – the opposition candidate received more than one-third of the vote and that was sufficient for the public to want and expect a different outcome. It did not happen.
The international community, and Armenia’s own citizens, expected that Armenia would continue on the path it had chosen nearly two decades ago – to more deeply integrate within European institutions. Yet, at the last minute, in what could only be described as a surprise to all, Armenia’s president chose to take Armenia into the Russian-led Customs Union. The eternal question, Russia or the West, seemed to have found its answer. If in the past, Armenia had been able to sustain normal and pragmatic relations with all three geopolitical centers -- Moscow, Brussels and Washington -- and balance their interests to Armenia’s benefit, that was no longer to be expected. In the eyes of a surprised West, and an expectant Russia, Armenia was no longer a predictable and reliable partner.
In 2013, the poor and the unemployed expected some improvement in their lives. The president had promised seven percent growth. It was not a surprise that that goal was not achieved, nor was it a surprise that no one was held accountable.
Opinion polls show that, given the opportunity, hundreds of thousands of Armenians would leave Armenia. Official statistics confirm this. In the first nine months of 2013, more than 120,000 people left and have not returned. During the last six years, on the current government’s watch, every tenth citizen has left the country, either temporarily or forever.
There is no indication that, in the coming year, expectations ought to be different. There is no policy in place to decrease the levels of poverty or unemployment, or to try to halt emigration or encourage in-migration. Neither Armenia-Turkey relations nor the Karabakh conflict expect to be resolved. Relations with Georgia are not expected to markedly change. If there are surprises, they will be in the realm of domestic politics. More active civic engagement, the formation of a more resolute opposition, and a more varied set of demands of the authorities – these are the surprises many hope for.
|Spotlight / Events|
CivilNet is a two-year-old operation with more than 6,000 videos about various aspects of Armenian life. CivilNet produces nearly two hours of content each day, and is focusing more and more on LIVE transmission of events, conferences and civil society activities. CivilNet’s videos have had more than seven million views in two years.
ArmNet is a yearly contest for Armenian websites and aims to recognize the year’s bests. It reviews all the changes, advancements and new features of the Internet world in Armenia. A jury composed of specialists chooses the year’s best Armenian sites in different categories.
This year ArmNet’s main theme was “Mobilization.” Orange’s marketing director Aram Mkrtchyan, in an interview with CivilNet, said, “The ArmNet awards are a special event in our country, because every year it reviews the situation of the Internet in Armenia. ArmNet is not only an award show, but also a conference where new trends and products of Internet life are discussed and very interesting ideas come about. This year’s ArmNet is different from the preceding ones, because this year we started talking a lot about mobilization of the internet. A lot of attention was given to mobile sites and their mobile apps.”
Armenian websites were nominated in 8 categories: Design and Practicality, Best Content, Technological Development, Breakthrough of the Year, Innovation, Best Start Up, Social Impact and the Grand Prix. Instead of awarding a website in the category for Social Impact, the prize was given to the “100 Dram” social movement because, this last summer, it was able to actively mobilize through the internet and stop the public transport rates from going up.
Other winners were www.ysu.am, the official website for Yerevan State University, in the category for Best Content; www.cult.am for Breakthrough of the Year, a site where you can find out the latest cultural events in Yerevan; www.betchili.com for Best Start Up, a social betting game with virtual currency based on real sport games; www.varwar.com for Technological Development, a site where you can create new or join available games; and www.imyerevan.com for Design and Practicality, an information and entertainment portal about Armenian reality. 360yerevan.am, a site that tells virtual stories of Yerevan, won the Grant Prix and the prize in the category for Innovation.