August 1, 2021

Reversal of Democratic Backsliding in Armenia: Looking for Partners - Articles Series

While upholding the rule of law and transparency were among the main priorities in Armenia after the peaceful overturn of power in 2018, known as the “Velvet Revolution”, the threat of democratic backsliding in the country has become an increasingly pertinent topic in political and civic circles recently. The lack of momentum in judicial reforms, lack of processes to establish transitional justice mechanisms to deal with the usurpation of power by previous ruling powers have presented themselves as pressing issues for the current political leadership. This, coupled with restrictions of freedom of movement, assembly and speech during the Coronavirus lockdown in Armenia, restrictions of the freedom of speech during martial law in September-November of 2020, and the extreme polarization of the political scene in the post-war phase are argued to be evidence of the shrinking civic space in the country.                                                   

This paper argues that in the post-war transitional phase, the mobilization of local civil society organizations is crucial for the maintenance of democratization processes. At the same time, trust towards international partners and platforms needs to be re-established following the disillusionment of the Armenian civic scene towards them. The paper attempts to give a snapshot of shrinking civic space perceptions and indications in Armenia, while exploring whether the civil society pursues to reinvigorate ties with regional partners. Stronger ties with regional partners, including in the immediate neighborhood can serve to support mutual democratic diffusion, however, challenges persist in the resilience of civic space under the pressure consolidated authoritarian regimes.

Authors: Ms. Arpi Grigoryan, Research Associate, Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC)–Armenia Foundation

Ms. Heghine Manasyan, Research & Development Director, Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC)–Armenia Foundation

This article is part of the Call for Articles Series “Building Knowledge for CSO Cooperation in the Black Sea Region”, in the context of the project “Building CSO Capacity for Regional Cooperation within the Black Sea Region”, implemented by FOND, and funded by the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation (BST), a project of the German Marshall Fund. The opinions expressed in this publication are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views those of the Black Sea Trust or its partners.

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