Normative Role of the EU in Armenia: Factors of Perception

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2018-62-4-91-102

A. Aivazyan (,
Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences, 11, bld. 3, Mokhovaya Str., Moscow, 125993, Russian Federation;
I. Petrova (,
Leuven International and European Studies Institute, University of Leuven, 45 Parkstraat, 3000 Leuven, Belgium 

Acknowledgement.The research is pursued under the project “EUropean Identity, Cultural Diversity and Political Change” as part of Marie Skłodowska Curie’s Researchers Mobility Programme.

Abstract. A number of studies have recently emphasized that while criteria of effectiveness of the European foreign policy have often focused on the EU foreign policy making, less attention has been paid to the analysis of policy adoption on the ground. In other words, a receiving side of the European Union foreign policy has not been studied sufficiently. This article aims to address this gap by looking at how the EU foreign policy narrative is perceived in Armenia and how this perception affects its effectiveness. In particular, the article first traces the European Union’s narrative in the areas of democratization, welfare and security. It then proceeds with the analysis of how the EU’s narrative is being received by Armenian political elites, by drawing on official documentation, semi-structured interviews and survey data. The April 2017 elections programmes, as well as opinion polls data are also analyzed. Several obstacles to the image formation of the European Union as a stable and reliable partner are identified, in particular: a weak degree of awareness among general public and the expert community about projects funded by the EU in Armenia; the absence of a monitoring system for the funds invested which gives the ground for corruption development, already widespread; proliferation of bureaucratic apparatus. Despite the fact that the efforts made by the European Union to support democratic reforms, economic development, peaceful resolution of conflicts are recognized as important, their effect is not obvious to the expert community and political elite. At the same time, the country’s institutional development is directly related to its ability to impede tensions in the region and the resumption of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. The April 2017 elections demonstrated that there is a distinct urge for a strong Armenian state that would unite not only the population of the country, but also Armenian diaspora and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. In this respect, for most experts and government officials, the importance of cooperation with Russia and its diplomatic role as an intermediary in this conflict is indisputable. On the other hand, the transition to the concept of a “principled pragmatism” in the EU neighborhood policy corresponds with the continuing tendency in Armenia for a multi-vector foreign policy and selective attitude to cooperation with various partners.

Keywords: EU, strategic narrative, South Caucasus, Armenia, European integration 


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For citation:
Aivazyan A., Petrova I. Normative Role of the EU in Armenia: Factors of Perception. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2018, vol. 62, no. 4, pp. 91-102.

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