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Modern Armenia » Government & Politics

 

  •    Government & Politics   

    The National Assembly of Armenia.

    Politics of Armenia takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic. According to the Constitution of Armenia, the President is the head of government and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The unicameral parliament (also called the Azgayin Zhoghov or National Assembly) is controlled by a coalition of four political parties: the conservative Republican party, the Prosperous Armenia party, the Rule of Law party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. The main opposition party is Raffi Hovannisian’s Heritage party, which favors eventual Armenian membership in the European Union and NATO.

    The Armenian government’s stated aim is to build a Western-style parliamentary democracy as the basis of its form of government. It has universal suffrage above the age of eighteen.

    International observers of Council of Europe and U.S. Department of State have questioned the fairness of Armenia’s parliamentary and presidential elections and constitutional referendum since 1995, citing polling deficiencies, lack of cooperation by the Electoral Commission, and poor maintenance of electoral lists and polling places. Freedom House categorized Armenia in its 2008 report as a “Semi-consolidated Authoritarian Regime” (along with Moldova, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia) and ranked Armenia 20th among 29 nations in transition, with a Democracy Score of 5.21 out of 7 (7 represents the lowest democratic progress).

    Since 1999, Freedom House’s Democracy Score for Armenia has been steadily on the decline (from 4.79 to 5.21). Furthermore, Freedom House ranked Armenia as “partly free” in its 2007 report, though it did not categorise Armenia as an “electoral democracy”, indicating an absence of relatively free and competitive elections. However, significant progress seems to have been made and the 2008 Armenian presidential election was hailed as largely democratic by OSCE and Western monitors.

    Foreign relations

    Embassy of Armenia in Washington, D.C.

    Armenia presently maintains good relations with almost every country in the world, with two major exceptions being its immediate neighbours, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Tensions were running high between Armenians and Azerbaijanis during the final years of the Soviet Union. The Nagorno-Karabakh War dominated the region’s politics throughout the 1990s. The border between the two rival countries remains closed up to this day, and a permanent solution for the conflict has not been reached despite the mediation provided by organisations such as the OSCE.

    Turkey also has a long history of poor relations with Armenia over its refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize the Republic of Armenia (the 3rd republic) after its independence from the USSR in 1991. Despite this, for most of the 20th century and early 21st century, relations remain tense and there are no formal diplomatic relations between the two countries due to Turkey’s refusal to establish them for numerous reasons. During the Karabakh conflict and bringing it as the reason, Turkey closed its land border with Armenia in 1993. It has not lifted its blockade despite pressure from the powerful Turkish business lobby interested in Armenian markets. Since 2005, however, the Armenian airline company Armavia regularly flies between the Zvartnots International Airport of Yerevan and Atatürk International Airport of Istanbul.

    The Government building in Yerevan

    On 10 October 2009, Armenia and Turkey signed protocols on normalisation of relationships, which set a timetable for restoring diplomatic ties and reopening their joint border. The ratification of those had to be made in the national parliaments. In Armenia it passed through the required by legislation approval of the Constitutional Court and was sent to the parliament for the final ratification. The President had publicly announced for multiple times both, abroad and in Armenia, that as the leader of the political majority of Armenia he assures the ratification of the protocols if Turkey has it done. Despite this, the process stopped, as Turkey continuously added more preconditions to its ratification and also “delayed it beyond any reasonable time-period”.

    Due to its position between two unfriendly neighbours, Armenia has close security ties with Russia. At the request of the Armenian government, Russia maintains a military base in the northwestern Armenian city of Gyumri as a deterrent against Turkey.[citation needed] Despite this, Armenia has also been looking toward Euro-Atlantic structures in recent years. It maintains good relations with the United States especially through its Armenian diaspora. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 427,822 Armenians living in the country.

    Because of the blockades by Azerbaijan and Turkey, Armenia continues to maintain solid relations with its southern neighbor Iran especially in the economic sector. Economic projects such a gas pipeline going from Iran to Armenia are in time being developed.

    Armenia is also a member of the Council of Europe, maintaining friendly relations with the European Union, especially with its member states such as France and Greece. A 2005 survey reported that 64% of Armenia’s population would be in favor of joining the EU. Several Armenian officials have also expressed the desire for their country to eventually become an EU member state, some predicting that it will make an official bid for membership in a few years.

    Eduard Nalbandyan currently serves as the Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    Military

    The Armenian Army, Air Force, Air Defence, and Border Guard comprise the four branches of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia. The Armenian military was formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and with the establishment of the Ministry of Defence in 1992. The Commander-in-Chief of the military is the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan. The Ministry of Defence is in charge of political leadership, currently headed by Colonel-General Mikael Harutyunyan, while military command remains in the hands of the General Staff, headed by the Chief of Staff, who is currently Lieutenant-General Seyran Ohanian.

    Armenian Army BTR-80s.

    Active forces now number about 81,000 soldiers, with an additional reserve of 32,000 troops. Armenian border guards are in charge of patrolling the country’s borders with Georgia and Azerbaijan, while Russian troops continue to monitor its borders with Iran and Turkey. In the case of an attack, Armenia is able to mobilise every able-bodied man between the age of 15 and 59, with military preparedness.

    Armenian soldiers at the 2010 Moscow Victory Day Parade.

    The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of military equipment, was ratified by the Armenian parliament in July 1992. In March 1993, Armenia signed the multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention, which calls for the eventual elimination of chemical weapons. Armenia acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapons state in July 1993.

    Armenia is member of Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) along with Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It participates in NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PiP) program and is in a NATO organisation called Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). Armenia has engaged in a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo as part of non-NATO KFOR troops under Greek command. Armenia also had 46 members of its military peacekeeping forces as a part of the Coalition Forces in Iraq War until October 2008.

    Administrative divisions

    Main article: Administrative divisions of Armenia

    Provinces

    Shirak
    Lori
    Tavush
    Aragatsotn
    Armavir
    Yerevan
    Ararat
    Kotayk
    Gegharkunik
    Vayots
    Dzor
    Syunik

    Armenia is divided into ten provinces (marzer, singular marz), with the city (kaghak) of Yerevan (Երևան) having special administrative status as the country’s capital. The chief executive in each of the ten provinces is the marzpet (marz governor), appointed by the government of Armenia. In Yerevan, the chief executive is the mayor, appointed by the president.

    Within each province are communities (hamaynkner, singular hamaynk). Each community is self-governing and consists of one or more settlements (bnakavayrer, singular bnakavayr). Settlements are classified as either towns (kaghakner, singular kaghak) or villages (gyugher, singular gyugh). As of 2007, Armenia includes 915 communities, of which 49 are considered urban and 866 are considered rural. The capital, Yerevan, also has the status of a community. Additionally, Yerevan is divided into twelve semi-autonomous districts.

    Province↓ Capital↓ Area↓ Population↓
    Aragatsotn (Արագածոտն) Ashtarak (Աշտարակ) 2,753 km² 126,278
    Ararat (Արարատ) Artashat (Արտաշատ) 2,096 km² 252,665
    Armavir (Արմավիր) Armavir (Արմավիր) 1,242 km² 255,861
    Gegharkunik (Գեղարքունիք) Gavar (Գավառ) 5,348 km² 215,371
    Kotayk (Կոտայք) Hrazdan (Հրազդան) 2,089 km² 241,337
    Lori (Լոռի) Vanadzor (Վանաձոր) 3,789 km² 253,351
    Shirak (Շիրակ) Gyumri (Գյումրի) 2,681 km² 257,242
    Syunik (Սյունիք) Kapan (Կապան) 4,506 km² 134,061
    Tavush (Տավուշ) Ijevan (Իջևան) 2,704 km² 121,963
    Vayots Dzor (Վայոց Ձոր) Yeghegnadzor (Եղեգնաձոր) 2,308 km² 53,230
    Yerevan (Երևան) 227 km² 1,091,235

    Cities

    Cities by population
    Yerevan
    Yerevan
    Gyumri
    Gyumri
    Vanadzor
    Vanadzor
    Rank City Province Population Rank City Province Population
    view • talk • edit

    Hrazdan
    Hrazdan
    Kapan
    Kapan
    Dilijan
    Dilijan

    1 Yerevan Yerevan 1,107,800 11 Goris Syunik 21,935
    2 Gyumri Shirak 168,918 12 Ashtarak Aragatsotn 20,636
    3 Vanadzor Lori 116,929 13 Stepanavan Lori 19,341
    4 Vagharshapat (Ejmiatsin) Armavir 56,757 14 Spitak Lori 18,237
    5 Hrazdan Kotayk 42,150 15 Charentsavan Kotayk 17,752
    6 Abovyan Kotayk 36,705 16 Sevan Gegharkunik 17,377
    7 Artashat Ararat 35,100 17 Sisian Syunik 16,823
    8 Kapan Syunik 35,071 18 Ijevan Tavush 15,620
    9 Armavir Armavir 26,387 19 Artik Shirak 14,949
    10 Gavar Gegharkunik 22,444 20 Dilijan Tavush 13,752
    2009 estimation


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