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Armenia 2013. A Year of Expectations and Surprises

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.



This is the fifth year that Civilitas looks back at the year past and attempts to assess the events and trends within Armenia, and around us. It is always a challenge not to reduce this annual publication to a list of events. The intent is to focus on trends and institutional change. Each year, however, it becomes harder to say something new given the slow process of institutional change.

2012 was different only in that there were more choices to be made — by the people and by the rulers.  Neighbors to the north made those choices and are living with the consequences, sometimes surprising, but comfortable in the knowledge that the choices were theirs.

In Armenia, in a year that was both an election year and a pre-election year, there were choices to be made by the various political players — to seriously collaborate and compete, or to do the minimum necessary to remain a player. There were choices for the ruling party — to prepare for elections by responding to electors’ needs or merely pretending. There were choices for those in government — to nurture a competitive economic environment with room for everyone, or to focus on limiting the field and collecting the crumbs. There were similar choices to be made by the business elite — to profit legally and contribute to the public sector, or to continue to profit illegally and live at the expense of the public sector. Within the neighborhood and on the global stage, the choices were between visionary engagement and reactive rhetoric. Finally, the active segment of the public, too, had choices to make — which battles to fight, which alliances to make. 

In the resultant disappointed environment, the people, too, made choices. They had two ways of responding to disappointment. The Economist Albert Hirschmann said either ‘with their feet or by staying put and complaining.’ This year, many chose the first. Those who chose the second did so half-heartedly, without hope.  
With two exceptions. First, those seeking greater political power and responsibility managed to get past the inability and plain refusal to reach out and collaborate with others seeking change, albeit differently. Second, a small new group, who proudly claimed no interest in politics, nevertheless were both vocal, active and demanding.
There will be more choices to make in the year to come — in Armenia and Azerbaijan and Georgia. Then, the peoples in each of these societies will have to demonstrate that they want the right to make choices and will defend that right.

Full report (pdf)


Screen_Shot_2012-08-31_at_2.52.03_PMThe Civilitas Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of its new mid-year report dedicated to the May 6, 2012 parliamentary elections in Armenia. The report, entitled ELECTIONS 2012 — A VIEW FROM WITHIN is the product of discussions and consultations by those who have watched this election and those who came before as observers, journalists, analysts and citizens. Like the annual reports themselves, the purpose is to provide context and information to explain events and trends, intentions and actions.

Most of all, the attempt is to provide a long-view and some perspective on policies, for those in government, those wishing to enter government, or for civil society actors or others in the public sector. By presenting information on the changing electoral environment, the changing electoral processes and the observations and conclusions of local and international monitors, this report may help serve to better understand what did and didn’t happen and what can be expected in the all-important 2013 presidential election to come.

Finally, this report does not pretend to assess the integrity of the process nor the legitimacy of the outcome. The details of the day are available elsewhere. This report attempts to present a general view of the context and the processes — a view from within.

The Civilitas Foundation, has, since its establishment, published an annual report on the state of Armenia’s political and economic development, as well as a look at regional events and developments during the previous years. Thus, in 2008, Civilitas published ARMENIA IN 2008 - CRISIS AND OPPORTUNITY, followed by ARMENIA IN 2009 - PROMISE AND REALITY, ARMENIA IN 2010 - A YEAR OF UNCERTAINTY and ARMENIA IN 2011 – WITHOUT ILLUSIONS.

Armenia and Neighbors. 20 Years in Figures

cover20engIt is difficult to gauge the immense changes recorded in the South Caucasus in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union. The people of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan have lived and experienced on their skin, these uneven, often adverse, sometimes inspiring developments. Yet, seen from within, it has often been difficult to maintain perspective and to put things in context.

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Armenia 2011 -- Without Illusions

cover_ENG_2011FINALThe fourth annual Civilitas report on Armenia and the region, politically and economically, is now available. As in years past, the report explores Armenia in the regional context, its relations with its neighbors and the neighbors relations with each other, with an assessment of how all that affects Armenia. Armenia's domestic picture is presented both chronologically, as well as from the perspective of institutional development. Finally, the year's economic developments are presented, replete with statistics and analysis.
The annual report includes a poster-size visual representation of Armenia's budget for 2012.

Armenia’s 2012 budget

Armenia’s residents know how the government collects taxes, but few know how those revenues are spent.  For that reason, the Civilitas annual Englreport Armenia in 2011- Without Illusions, prepared a well-researched and detailed poster providing a visual explanation of Armenia’s 2012 budget.

The budget is divided into 11 fundamental categories:

  • Social security – 271.93 bln AMD
  • General Public Services – 153.16 bln AMD
  • Defense – 146.22 bln AMD
  • Support to Different Economic Spheres – 97.01 bln AMD
  • Education- 108.43 bln AMD
  • Public Order, Security and Justice- 60.78 bln AMD
  • Health – 62.46 bln AMD
  • Housing and Utilities - 42.49 bln AMD
  • Reserve Funds – 25.80 bln AMD
  • Sport and Culture – 17.98 bln AMD
  • Environmental Protection 8.88 bln AMD

Those eleven categories (with the exception of the Reserve Funds) are divided into the relevant sub-categories.

Armenia in 2010- A Year of Uncertainty

ENGcoverThis is the third annual report of the Civilitas Foundation and, as the two previous reports, is constructed around the three important areas: regional dimension, domestic and economic situation.
The report analyzes regional and global events that affected Armenia and the region and assesses the political developments in the country during 2010. It also offers an outlook for 2011, together with possible policy options.

Full report (pdf)

A Year of Uncertainty

ENGcoverPREFACE: This Report was launched three years ago to fill a gap – the missing Armenian perspective to the body of analysis about Armenia and the region offered by the international community.

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Armenia's 2010 State Budget

What the Goernment SpendsArmenia’s residents know how the government collects taxes, but few know how those revenues are spent.  For that reason, the Civilitas annual report Armenia in 2009: Promise and Reality, prepared a well-researched and detailed poster providing a visual explanation of Armenia’s 2010 budget.

The budget is divided into 11 fundamental categories:
  • Social security – 649 mln USD
  • General Public Services – 371 mln USD
  • Defense – 360 mln USD
  • Support to Different Economic Spheres – 300 mln USD
  • Education- 265 mln USD
  • Public Order, Security and Justice- 150 mln USD
  • Health – 147 mln USD
  • Housing and Utilities -123 mln USD
  • Reserve Funds – 58 mln USD
  • Sport and Culture – 43 mln USD
  • Environmental Protection 16 mln USD

Those eleven categories (with the exception of the Reserve Funds) are divided into the relevant sub-categories. A careful study of the budget shows for example that the reserved funds are equal to the total funds the government intends to spend on sports, culture and the environment.

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Armenia in 2009: Promise and Reality

coverENGThis second annual country report comes to build on the analysis and projections made in the Civilitas Foundation’s first annual report issued in December 2008. At that time, the newly established foundation launched this annual publication to fill a gap – the need to assess global, regional and domestic developments from the inside, looking out. In other words, these annual reports come to complement the various assessments carried out by international organizations, to serve as the Armenian perspective on the year’s developments within and around Armenia, and to take stock of the outlook for the coming year.

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What can be expected of or for Syria in the immediate future? Can there be justice without peace? Can there be peace without an accounting and without justice? What do Syrians want? What does the international community want?

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Nicholas Koumjian

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Member of Parliament

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs


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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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