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Shushanik Minasyan, 2 The European Union’s External Democracy Promotion in Armenia and the Importance of Civil Society in:

Wolfram Hilz, Shushanik Minasyan (Ed.)

Armenian Developments, page 11 - 26

Perspectives of Democratization and the Role of the Civil Society

1. Edition 2019, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4287-8, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7197-7, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828871977-11

Series: Bonner Studien zum globalen Wandel, vol. 24

Tectum, Baden-Baden
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11 2 The European Union’s External Democracy Promotion in Armenia and the Importance of Civil Society Shushanik Minasyan 1 Introduction The term civil society saw a recent resurgence in response to the anticommunist revolutionary movements in Eastern Europe, which produced communities with functions parallel to the state. The accompanying academic conceptualizations of the relationship between civil society and government have become enormously distinct. Civil society is often depicted as a source of legitimacy and resiliency for governments, or as a voice of dissent against authoritarianism. In some explanations, civil society is perceived as an impulse for political development, prior to and independent of government, and in others as dependent on government for legal structures, strong appreciation, or unconditional fiscal support. Civil society is characterized both as a development in partnership with the .1 A vibrant civil society is vital as it enhances the virtues relevant to a democratic system that can enable structures or communication channels between the government and interest groups involved in the policymaking process. As Jamal stipulates, civil society contributes four central functions to a democracy: 1 See Post, Robert & Rosenblum, Nancy (eds.): Civil Society and Government, New Jersey, 2002, p. 1. 12 “[…] (a) it counters state power, (b) it facilitates political participation by helping in the aggregation and representation of interests, (c) it serves as a political arena that could play an important role in the development of some of the necessary attributes for democratic development, and (d) more broadly, it plays an important role in furthering struggles for citizenship rights.”2 In theory, a progressive civil society provides important conditions as it strengthens democracy by producing and facilitating “[…] checks of power, responsibility, societal inclusion, tolerance, fairness, trust, cooperation and often also the efficient implementation of accepted political programs.”3 The promotion of civil society is consequently upheld as an essential component of good governance promotion. As an international normative actor, the European Union (EU) stresses the importance of strengthening civil society in its shared values with third countries. Brussels “ … gives value to a dynamic, pluralistic and competent society and recognizes the importance of constructive relations between states and CSOs.4 Therefore, the emphasis of the EU policy will be on CSO s engagement to build stronger democratic processes and accountability systems and to achieve better development outcomes.”5 2 Jamal, Manal: Democracy Promotion, Civil Society Building and the Primacy of Politics, in: Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2012, pp. 3- 31, p. 12. 3 Merkel, Wolfgang: Embedded and Defective Democracies, in: Democratization, Vol. 11, No. 5, 2004, pp. 33-58, p. 47. 4 Civil Society Organization. 5 European Commission: The Roots of Democracy and Sustainable Develop- External Relations. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, COM (2012) 492 final, Brussels, 2012, p. 4. 13 In this context, the EU pays special attention to the civil societies of its neighborhood countries and prioritizes dialogue with them in its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).6 This paper considers the nature of EU democracy promotion in the Eastern Neighborhood with a focus on Armenia in particular. Central and Eastern European countries have intensely engaged Armeimportant consequences for its civil society members. Prior to the ENP, the EU was neither a prominent external democracy promoter, nor a visible advocate of civil society actors in post-Soviet countries. The ENP, however, introduced a coherent policy towards its new neighbors in 2004, a quality which has only blossomed since the expansion of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) in 2009. Considering and its suppo external democracy promotion will discuss the concepts, mechanisms and interactions with domestic civil society actors in Armenia upon which external support is based. As the evidence will demonstrate, although civil society support and communication constitute a potentially auspicious approach, the actual impact of EU strategies in Armenia remains weak. 2 The EU s External Democracy Promotion and Civil Society Civil society has become an important issue in democratization policy and a central topic of discourse for scholars, policymakers, and other observers. Civil society theory first appeared in the political and academic landscape of the transitioning Central and Eastern Europe democracies in the late 1980s. The concept has since made its way into the democracy promotion strategies of all Western forts, civil society has continuously achieved an ever more central position 6 See European Parliament: Resolution on Strengthening Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries, Include the Question of Cooperation between Government and Civil Society, and the Question of the Reforms Aimed at Empowering Civil Society, No. 2012/C 153/04, in: Official Journal of the European Union/ C153, 30 May 2012, p. 16-17. 14 motion profile has been reinforced since the significant political changes in post-communist Eastern Europe between 1989 and 2001. Given the challenging political and socio-economic circumstances, the promotion and protection of human rights and democratic principles in the Luxembourg Declaration of 1991. This served as the basis of the first European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), which became a prominent feature of EU external policy over the course of the 1990s. Sustaining a culture of democracy and rule of law, building an agile civil society and confidence developing measures to re-establish peace have since become standard .7 In this context, the EU Commission emphasizes the importance of an empowered civil society as “[…] a crucial component of any democratic system […]. It represents and fosters pluralism and can contribute to more effective policies, equitable and sustainable development and inclusive growth. It is an important player in fostering peace and in conflict resolution.”8 jectives and strategies regarding civil society, as well as the outcome of EU support in Armenia, it is first important to identify its ideas concerning civil society and how it can contribute to democratization. The normative definition of civil society is rooted in a multitude of theoretical and empirical studies. Unfortunately, there is still no single definition of civil society as diverging projections aim to characterize civil society from different perspectives. This paper does not intend to describe the existing concepts of civil society, but will instead highlight the interpretation of Steven Scalet and David Schmidtz. The two maintain: 7 See Minasyan, Shushanik: Provisionally Unsuccessful? European Democracy Promotion in the South Caucasus, in: Axyonova, Vera (ed.): European Engagement Under Review, Stuttgart, 2016, pp. 41-58, p. 42. 8 European Commission: The Roots of Democracy and Sustainable Developmunication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, COM (2012) 492 final, Brussels, 2012, p. 3. 15 “Civil society retains the right to dismiss those whom it hires to provide it with governance. In this sense, classical liberals typically use the term civil society to refer to anything but government; businesses, schools, clubs, unions, media, churches, charities, libraries, and any other nongovernmental forms of organizations through which a community’s members relate to each other. Civil society on this view is a cluster concept. It refers to a cluster of things that bear a family resemblance to each other but share no common essence, apart from being nongovernmental forms of association.”9 This understanding is mirrored in European Civil Society terminology which includes a wide range of actors with different roles and mandates in its concept. The European Commission considers civil society “[…] to include all non-State, not-for-profit structures, nonpartisan and non-violent organizations, through which people organize to pursue shared objectives and ideals, whether political, cultural, social or economic.”10 The European Parliament complements this view, stating civil society spans y individuals or groups that are independent from the state and whose activities help to promote human rights and democracy . 11 The inclusion of civil society as a way to boost democratic legitipolitical agenda in its to control state institutions and constitutes a real alternative to state authority. In the short term, it checks and limits state power by levying criticism against decisions that neglect democratic princi- 9 Scalet, Steven & Schmidtz, David: State, Civil society and Classical Liberalism, in: Post, Robert & Rosenblum, Nancy (eds.): Civil Society and Government, New Jersey, 2002, pp. 26-47, p. 27. 10 European Commission: The Roots of Democracy and Sustainable Developmunication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, COM (2012) 492 final, Brussels, 2012, p. 3. 11 European Parliament: Regulation on Establishing a Financing Instrument for Democracy and Human Right Worldwide, No. 235/2014, in: Official Journal of the European Union/ L 77, 15 March 2014, p. 86. 16 ples and the rule of law. giving voice to the concerns of citizens and delivering services that 12 In other words, the EU sees civil society as a collection of actors who enhance the quality and legitimacy of the substantial inputs through participation. The categorization of roles for civic actors in the democratization processes demonstrates that iated with key aspects of its external democracy promotion: “[W]hilst democracy and human rights objectives must be increasingly mainstreamed in all instruments for financing external action, Union assistance […] should have a specific complementary and additional role by virtue of its global nature and its independence of action from the consent of the governments and public authorities of the third countries concerned. That role should allow for cooperation and partnership with civil society on sensitive human rights and democracy issues […] providing the flexibility requisite reactivity to respond to changing circumstances, or needs of beneficiaries, or periods of crisis.”13 Accordingly, the EU puts forward three priorities for its democracy support to achieve better development outcomes, concentrating on actions to (1) promote a conductive environment for civil societies in partner countries, (2) improve its participation in domestic policies, the EU programming cycle and international agreements and (3) increase local civil society capacity to effectively perform their roles as independent development actors.14 12 European Commission: European Governance White Paper, COM (2001) 428, Brussels, 2001, p. 13. 13 European Parliament: Regulation on Establishing a Financing Instrument for Democracy and Human Right Worldwide, No. 235/2014, in: Official Journal of the European Union/ L 77, 15 March 2014, p. 86. 14 See European Commission: The Roots of Democracy and Sustainable Devel- Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, COM (2012) 492 final, Brussels, 2012, p. 4. 17 3 EU instruments for Civil Society Promotion in Armenia - The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) The EU has developed a package of objectives, instruments and strategies since the early 1990s to strengthen civil society in Armefirst attempt to assist in the promotion of the rule of law and human rights, together with the recognition of civil society as a key actor in the process. The EIDHR assumes a thematic approach to enhance the condition of human rights and fundamental freedoms in countries where civilians are more vulnerable. While Armenia cooperated with the EIDHR in the mid-1990s, direct financial aid to its civil society only composed a small part of EU assistance. The aid was then directed to address the most urgent problems in the aftermath of independence, such as political and economic transition as well as humanitarian issues. The EIDHR of the 1990s had the simple task of focusing on election monitoring, which was certainly the case in Armenia. Smith notes that a number of Armenian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) cooperated with EU actors through the EIDHR-instrument on different projects ranging from election-based consultation initiatives and anticorruption programs to general monitoring tasks.15 The EU later intensified its activities after 2003 when the framework was heavily criticized by experts due to its independence from bilateral Armenian-EU relations. The EIDHR directly financed Armenian CSOs, limited in scope, either as a result of self-limitation or unofficial 16. Furthermore, these actions often achieved good results at the project level, but had little sectoral or national policy impact on account of their lack of continuity or coherent long-term planning. In response to the shortcomings of 15 teraction with Civil Society Organizations in Armenia, in: Demokratizatsiya. The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2011, pp. 385- 404, p. 391. 16 Zulueta-Fülscher, Kimana: Elections and the European Neighbourhood Policy in Armenia, FRIDE-Comment, May 2008, available at: http://fride.org/ publication/436/elections-and-european-neighbourhood-policy-in-armenia (10 May 2018), p. 4. 18 EIDHR assistance, the EU reformed its funding instruments in 2007 as a complementary tool to enhance transition through the ENP, particularly for civil society organizations. In the European Neighborhood Policy Strategy Paper (2007-2013) for Armenia, the EIDHR identified dialogue with civil society as a priority to support democratic standards and good governance.17 From 2007 to 2012, non-state actors and local authorities in Armenia have received a total allocation of EUR 5,5 million in financial assistance.18 The European Commission later assessed the project implementation and 19. However, the amount of EIDHR aid available for civil society is comparably low and there has even been a considerable decline in financial support, from EUR 1,5 million in 2007 to EUR 600.000 in 2012. The general consensus seems to be that there are still problems surrounding EIDHR, with particular criticism reserved for its lack of administrafund, and co-ordinate projects is questionable, since the centralized system of calls for proposals with long project-evaluation periods is especially stifling.20 did not become an effective or focused democracy promotion tool. Most of its objectives remain unfulfilled, especially those referring to democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. According to the formation has continued to re-main incomplete: “The development of a more resilient pluralist and participatory democracy in the country [was] challenged by the inherently closed nature of its political system and its institutions, each of which lacks sufficient authority or independence to support and sustain true democracy. On a deeper level, the fulfillment of democracy [was] further hindered by the absence of an 17 See European Commission: European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument: Armenia, Country Strategy Paper 2007-2013, Brussels, 2007. 18 -State Actors and Local Authorities in Devel 2007-2012, Brussels, 2012. 19 Ibid., p. 13. 20 See Barbe, Esther & Johansson-Nogues, Elisabeth: The EU as a Modest fairs, Vol. 84, No. 1, 2008, pp. 81-96. 19 underlying rule of law, which has only fostered an “arrogance of power” among the government and allowed corruption to flourish unchecked. These broader trends in Armenia’s deficit of democracy have been demonstrated by a lack of good governance, which is characterized by the authorities’ ruling rather than governing the country … .”21 4 New Approaches ranean Union in 2008, Sweden and Poland advocated for enhancing the eastern dimension of EU foreign policy by launching the Eastern Partnership Policy in the same year. Security concerns aggravated by the Russia-Georgia War in August 2008 ensured wide support within the EU. By committing to the initiative, the EU signaled a willingness to offer greater support for the reform efforts of partner countries and to engage in an intensive civil society dialogue. The EaP generally built on the existing ENP structures and did not create a new scope of cooperation. The most important innovation, however, has been a greater involvement of non-state actors in EU cooperation. In order to alleviate the shortcomings of the previous top-down approach and to restore the bilateral channels with civil society, the EU introduced a new mode of engagement establishing an EaP Civil Society Forum (CSF). The CSF provides a platform to develop both projects and relationships between EaP and EU CSOs, an initiative wich has received praise from EU institutions and member states alike. The first annual CSF Assembly was organized in Brussels in 2009 by the EU Commission with 200 participating organizations from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine and the EU.22 Since then, the forum was convened in Berlin in 2010, in Poznan in 2011, in Stockholm in 2012 and held the first CSF in an EaP country in Chisinau, Moldova in 2013. The Steering Commit- 21 Bertelsmann Foundation: Transformation Index, Country Report Armenia, 2010, available at: http://www.bti2010.bertelsmann-transformation-index. de/148.0.html (10 May 2018). 22 See Official Page of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, available at: http://eap-csf.eu/ (10 May 2018). 20 work by representing it in the EU and in EaP countries, developing its strategy and guiding the activities within the Forum. The Forum itself is composed of five working groups on good governance, economic integration, environment and energy security, contacts between people, and social dialogue. The Forum members are allowed to choose the Working Group closest to their field of interest, which convene in meetings to facilitate the substantive work of the CSF. The core of the CSF is comprised of six national platforms, which facilitate dialogue between the CSOs in EaP countries, their respective governments and the EU institutions. The Forum has had a permanent participant status since 2012 in all intergovernmental multilateral EaP platforms.23 Following the Arab Spring, the EU and its members established two parallel instruments in 2011. The Neigbourhood Civil Society Fa- Eastern and Southern regions with EUR 34,3 million from 2011- 201324 to strengthen the civil society capacities of partner countries, promote national reforms, and to contribute to the improvement of public accountability. The Commission saw the Facility as a means 25 and “[…] to encompass and reinforce in a comprehensive way existing initiatives of support to non-state actors in the neighbourhood, complemented with new elements. It also attempts to make non-state actors-oriented efforts in the ENP region more visible and structured, and more beyond simply providing financial support to non-state actors […].”26 23 See Kostanyan, Hrant: The Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership four years on: Progress, Challenges and Prospects, CEPS Special Report, No. 81, Brussels 2014, available at: https://www.ceps.eu/publications/civilsociety-forum-eastern-partnership-four-years-progress-challenges-andprospects (10 May 2018). 24 See European Commission: Action Fiche for Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility 2011, Brussels 2011; European Commission: Action Fiche for Eastern Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility 2012 and 2013, Brussels, 2012. 25 Action Fiche for Eastern Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility 2012 and 2013, Brussels, 2012, p. 2. 26 European Commission: Action Fiche for Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility 2011, Brussels 2011, p. 1. 21 The Council of the EU established the European Endowment for driven, and independent democracy support organisa 27 and was introduced by Poland during its EU presidency in 2011.28 The EED was an initiative aimed at facilitating rapid and flexible democratization funding to political actors as well as to foster and encourage deep and sustainable societal democracy. Armenian civil society organizations have been involved in consultations with those instruments since 2012. EU experts have used meetings and seminars to enhance the dialogue between the EU and Armenian civil society as well as to create a civil society platform for the exchange of views on a number of issues relevant for the future development of EU-Armenia relations. In December 2012, a non-paper on strengthening the role of the EaP Civil Society National Platform in Armenia (ANP) was initiated and submitted to paper stressed the importance of the ANP's role in increasing government accountability, engaging citizens in policymaking and giving the EaP more visibility. A regular structured dialogue between civil society representatives and governments authorities was suggested to monitor the implementation of the EaP Roadmap and ENP Action Plan and enable civil society to comment on the national legislative process related of the EaP agenda implementation.29 Thematic instruments mainly address non-state actors such as NGOs and local authorities on topics including the rule of law and human rights, poverty reduction and sustainable development, among others. Since 2008, the EU has pledged over EUR 5 million to these projects. On average, 20 projects within the aforementioned instruments have been contracted to tackle the issues of labor issues, fundamental rights and freedoms, media freedom, women empowerment/development, judiciary, health and social needs, and 27 European Parliament: European Endowment for Democracy: Report for the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, Brussels, 2014, p. 9. 28 See European Commission: European Endowment for Democracy Additional Support for Democratic Change, Press Release, IP/13/17, Brussels, 2013. 29 See European Commission: Armenia. EU Country Roadmap for Engagement with Civil Society 2014-2017, Brussels, 2014, p. 12. 22 elections.30 The CSF and NDSF funding to Armenian CSOs has gradually increased from EUR 350.000 in 2011 to EUR 850.000 in 2013.31 However, despite the apparent increase in interaction with Armenian CSOs, the nature of EU engagement has slowed considerably. Kostanyan expressed doubt about its effectiveness and stressed that “[…] the funding for the so-called Country Based Support Scheme on a yearly basis has remained fairly limited […], especially for Armenia. Through supporting civil society actors, the EU tries to conduct advocacy in the areas which conventionally have been reserved for the governments.”32 of cooperation between the EU and the Armenian government. The framework allows for strong state intervention and hinders growth in the political and civic landscape. The ambiguity also damages the normative nature of EU engagement with civil society and the majority of CSO actors argue the EU was committed to democracy or perceived as purely rhetorical, with little observable concrete action.33 The political allegiance of many NGOs who work with the EU is also controversial because the main civil society groups are directly commissioned by the government and the EU does not have an appropriate monitoring mechanism. The further transformation of NGOs into small commercial service businesses following the completion of a project presents an additional problem, a trend 30 See ibid., p. 13-14. 31 See European Commission: Commission Implementing Decision on the Special Measure: Eastern Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility 2012-2013 to be financed of the General Budget of the European Union, COM (2012) 8526 final, Brussels, 2012; European Commission: Action Fiche for Eastern Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility 2012 and 2013, Brussels, 2012. 32 Kostanyan, Hrant: Neither Integrated nor Comprehensive in Substance: Armenia and Georgia, in: Wetzel, Anne & Orbie, Jan (eds.): The Substance of EU Democracy Promotion, London, 2015, pp. 134-148, p. 143. 33 See Smith, Nicholas: Europeanization t teraction with Civil Society Organizations in Armenia, in: Demokratizatsiya. The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Vol. 19, No. 4, 2011, pp. 385- 404, p. 397. 23 which shatters the mutual trust between the EU and Armenian CSOs. As a result, many NGOs are skeptical about the genuine potential of EU engagement due to this damaged trust and repeatedly raised the issue that the EU treated independent CSOs as inferior to the government actors. “The government was seen as an equal partner and subsequently had a far greater role in formulating the [Action Plans]. Although CSOs cooperated with the EU on the [Action Plans], their voice was muzzled comparatively to the government. This contrasted from the pre-ENP interaction perception that CSOs were on an equal plane with government actors.”34 Brussels recognizes this assessment and attributes these shortcomings to the lack of professionalized civic activism in Armenia and their inability to ensure a goal-oriented management of funding. The Commission stresses that the activities of CSOs are not always borne locally but are donor driven and as such, strong domestic civic associations are some-times hard to find: “The development of CSOs in Armenia has been mainly determined by the donor’s policy and strategic priorities. Donor grants are the main and in most cases the sole source of their income. The areas and type of activities of CSOs has been shaped by local needs but also to a large extent by the policy priorities of international donors. […] Despite the concerns over possible decrease in donor's funding in the future, CSOs tend to continue relying on grants and therefore hardly get involved in different assistance instruments of the Delegation, unless grants are provided.”35 The European Commission underlines also: “Armenian CSOs are characterised by deficiencies in organisational capacity, internal governance, and financial sustainability […]. The majority of CSOs work in more than one sphere, mostly to fit to the donors' agendas and priorities in order to get funding. Membership fees and private donations also comprise a small portion of CSO funding. Lack of tax incentives for char- 34 Ibid., p. 396. 35 European Commission: Armenia. EU Country Roadmap for Engagement with Civil Society 2014-2017, Brussels, 2014, p. 15. 24 itable donations and low trust towards CSOs are obstacles to private funding. Paid services are almost nonexistent as an income source, mostly because of legislative limitations. Thus, lack of financial sustainability hinders strategic development of Armenian CSOs, and negatively affects their institutional capacities having a hindering impact on CSOs as participants in policy-making.”36 5 Conclusion EU has increased the level of support to civil society actors in democracy promotion and modestly improved the modalities of its funding in recent years. The corresponding instruments for civil society promotion (NDSF, CSF) succeeded in creating a sophisticated and functional institutional structure, becoming a visible cooperation platform for the EU and Armenian CSOs. However, EU support still faces a number of challenges: it must further develop its strategy and needs to balance the cooperation between state and non-state actors in particular. The civil society initiatives require a clear strategy for Armenia, which can define and implement itself. The cooperation strategy should concentrate on the preparation and delivery of CSO input, making the Eastern Partnership process more transparent, visible and accountable. Civil society actors stress that the application process and receiving of funding is complicated and time consuming, often taking an entire year before a decision is announced, when the project concept may have already become obsolete. The new forms of cooperation should seek to diminish the complicated grantapplication procedures, project-based assessment and language barrier. Whereas the simplification of EU funding programs will reduce the administrative burden, the simplification of rules and processes is but one aspect that needs to be examined; to ensure that EU programs remain attractive and suitable for civil society, it is paramount that the practical situation for CSO partners is improved and that the funding model is financially sustainable. Furthermore, 36 European Commission: Commission Implementing Decision on the Annual Action Programme 2015 in favour of the Republic of Armenia. Action Document for the Civil Society Facility, Annex 3, Brussels, 2015, p. 4. 25 these programs should be more clearly directed towards EUoriented NGOs. The EU and Armenia can benefit from independent input from civil society, but several steps must be taken. The EaP-Forum certainly needs to hone its processes and develop relevant input for EaP meetings. Moreover, the EaP-Forum needs to communicate its strategy with state actors, help civil society actors develop, and The inclusion of such actors in the process could lead to a better understanding in Brussels of the needs of Armenian society and increase public awareness about the civil society agenda.

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Abstract

The development of societies during and after periods of authoritarian or totalitarian rule is among the most interesting research topics in social sciences. On the one hand, the analysis is directed at why, when and how societies resist tyrannies and what ultimately leads to the downfall of seemingly invincible regimes. On the other hand, once such authoritarian regimes unravel, it is important to comprehend how societal groups organize themselves and how they try to influence political processes. In the case of the former Soviet republics, this transition was a complex and incalculable development that led to very heterogeneous political and societal situations. Due to the territorial situation of Armenia – wedged between the predominantly hostile neighbors Turkey and Azerbaijan, in the shadow of hegemonial Russia and Iran – the domestic Armenian development options seemed limited for decades. However, the transformation of the civil society in the Republic of Armenia finally paved its way slowly but constantly in recent years. The aim of this volume is to shed light on the ongoing discussion on civil society in Armenia in the context of democratization and to examine its potential for democratic consolidation. The perspectives recount diverse facets of the Armenian civic landscape, as well as the recent processes of democratization. The contributions from predominantly Armenian experts focus on the necessary structures and important actors for an understanding and characterization of the current situation of the Armenian civil society.