National Security and Foreign Military Bases in Armenia: Public Discussion and Opinion Poll Report

In the last two years, Armenia has undertaken a major foreign policy step by signing up to the Eurasian Economic Union, and by not pursuing the Association Agreement with the European Union. The Armenian authorities explained its decision by citing ‘security’ reasons.
The findings of the Civilitas Foundation’s previous poll in June 2014 indicate that public justifications for joining the Customs Union (later, the Eurasian Economic Union) were more linked to ‘security reasons’ than to economic factors, similar to the justifications of the Armenian authorities.
Still the question that remains is, to what extent does the public perception of the concept of ‘security’ or ‘national security’ match the conceptual framework of ‘national security’ inscribed by the Armenian government in its “Strategy on National Security”? This leads to the next question: To what extent do public expectations of national security match the current policy of deploying foreign military bases in Armenia? There is need to identify not only the public’s tolerance level against a particular country’s military units’ presence in Armenia, but tolerance against the presence of foreign military units in general. In this regard, it is worth surveying the conditions under which the Armenian public agrees to provide its territory to foreign military units and whether the conditions for providing territory match their own definition of ensuring ‘national security.’
In order to study the above-mentioned questions, in March 2015, the Civilitas Foundation conducted a public telephone poll with 600 residents of Armenia, randomly selected from all the marzes (regions) of the country and Yerevan. The purpose of the poll was to identify the attitude of Armenia’s population on the presence of foreign military bases in Armenia, to identify the underlying factors of this attitude, to compare the attitude towards foreign military presence with the public’s perceptions of ‘national security,’ and finally, to compare their perceptions of national security with the conceptual definitions of national security as adopted by the authorities in the strategy of national security. The opinion poll and this discussion do not aim at examining Armenia’s National Security Strategy (approved in 2007), its relevance to the current situation, its status of enforcement, public opinion regarding the internal and external threats stipulated in the document, although all these questions are valid for a separate inquiry.
The full report with the findings is available here. The telephone poll has identified, for example, that for the overwhelming majority of Armenia’s population (81 percent) it is not acceptable that another state or/and an international (intergovernmental) structure deal with ensuring Armenia’s national security. Of all those, who entrusted Armenia’s national security provision to a different state and/or international (intergovernmental) structure, the majority specified Russia. The situation is somewhat different as far as the population’s attitude towards the presence of military units is concerned. 55 percent of the population finds it acceptable that another state’s or a foreign institution’s military base be deployed in Armenia.
The Civilitas Foundation has also organized a public discussion on the topic with Manvel Sargsyan, Director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies and Vladimir Karapetyan, Head of the Committee on International Relations of the ANC party being the keynote speakers.
The discussion held at the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art (NPAK) on June 2nd, 2015 is livestreamed by CivilNet.
 
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Facts for Thought
Number of theater performances (1) and attendance (2) in Armenia
(1) (2)
2008 2,364 409,500
2009 2,443 367,800
2010 2,331 394,800
2011 2,707 458,900
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