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Nina Kankanyan, Yevgenya Jenny Paturyan, 4 Environmental Activism in Armenia 2008-2014: Strategies and Impact in:

Wolfram Hilz, Shushanik Minasyan (ed.)

Armenian Developments, page 45 - 62

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/10.5771/9783828871977-45

Series: Bonner Studien zum globalen Wandel, vol. 24

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
45 4 Environmental Activism in Armenia 2008- 2014: Strategies and Impact Nina Kankanyan / Yevgenya Jenny Paturyan 1 The Theoretical Framework: Environmental Activism and its Impact on Policy-Making This paper analyzes twelve environmental campaigns of 2008-2014 in Armenia, based on media analysis and in-depth interviews with activists. It shows that mining is the predominant concern of the environmentalists: the most frequent type of activities they oppose and the one hardest to influence. Environmental activists use a diverse repertoire of activities, yet the diversity of strategies is a poor predictor of the outcome; types of activities employed are more important than the variety. The only two cases of successful campaigns used a combination of 24/7 presence and physical disruption. Environmental activism is of particular importance in post-Soviet countries. Many of the former USSR republics witnessed public mobilization around environmental concerns in the 1980s; those were precursors of later political mobilization.1 Armenia is no exception. Environmental activism was prominent in the late 1980s and had spillover effects on the Arsakh (Karabakh) mass movement 1 See Khazanov, Anatoly: After the USSR: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Politics in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Cambridge, 1995; Grigor, Ronald: The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union, Stanford, 1993; Geukjian, Ohannes: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in the South Caucasus: Nagorno-Karabakh and the Legacy of Soviet Nationalities Policy, Ashgate, 2013; Ishkanian, Armine: Democracy Building and Civil Society in Post-Soviet Armenia, London, 2008. 46 which eventually led to the declaration of independence. Having started as a movement concerned with environment particularly the environmental security of the factory of Nayirit; this movement gradually transformed into a nationalistic movement touching upon the issue of Artsakh; and finally, it transformed into a movement for independence. The term nvironmental activism seems to be self-explanatory. Nonetheless, a definition is helpful in signalling a particular understanding. Our work is inspired by the Marquart-Pyatt2 definition which makes a reference to politics: “Environmental activism may be defined as organized participation in environmental issues, comprising an example of environmentally friendly behaviour rooted in the political realm.”3 The definition also highlights the organized participation element, thus excluding other types of environmentalism, such as individual environmentally friendly lifestyle. A large body of literature investigates the country-specific impact of environmental activism on policy change.4 The research carried out in Myanmar, for instance, shows that environmental activism is a component in a larger quest for democracy.5 The research on environmental activism in Russia shows that there is almost no influence at the policy change level.6 The inability to influence environ- 2 See Marquart-Pyatt, Sandra: Explaining Environmental Activism Across Countries, in: Society & Natural Resources, Vol. 25, No. 7, 2012, pp. 683- 699. 3 Ibid., p. 687. 4 See Feldman, David & Blokov, Ivan: Promoting an Environmental Civil Society: Politics, Policy, and -1991 Experience, in: Review of Policy Research, Vol. 26, No. 6, 2009, pp. 729-759; Simpson, Adam: Challenging Hydropower Development in Myanmar (Burma): Cross-Border Activism under a Regime in Transition, in: The Pacific Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2013, pp. 129-152; Rootes, Christopher: Climate Change, Environmental Activism and Community Action in Britain, in: Social Alternatives, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2012, p. 24-28. 5 See Simpson, Adam: Challenging Hydropower Development in Myanmar (Burma): Cross-Border Activism under a Regime in Transition, in: The Pacific Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2013, pp. 129-152, p. 130. 6 See Feldman, David & Blokov, Ivan: Promoting an Environmental Civil Society: Politics, Policy, and -1991 Experience, in: Review of Policy Research, Vol. 26, No. 6, 2009, pp. 729-759, p. 746. 47 mental decisions is explained by the high dependence of the Russian economy on natural resource exploitation.7 The capacity of environmental activism to exert influence varies from country to country; the success depends on a number of factors, such as regime type8 or economic structure9 of a country. Although recently the scholarly discourse of environmental activism revolves around the debate of online versus offline activism,10 the focus of this paper is on the tradition activism, such as demonstrations, petitions, court litigations, contacting officials and disruptive tactics. Radical actions are a common tool in environmental activism. Radical tactics serve both to draw attention to the issue as well as to attract larger groups of supporters, which puts more pressure on policymakers.11 Thus, sabotage and other radical actions are the most successful tactics for gaining policy- The focus of our research is the impact of environmental activism (EA) on policy-making, particularly with regard to reacting to decisions seen as detrimental to the environment. We analyze EA strat- 7 See ibid., p. 732. 8 See Simpson, Adam: Challenging Hydropower Development in Myanmar (Burma): Cross-Border Activism under a Regime in Transition, in: The Pacific Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2013, pp. 129-152. 9 See Feldman, David & Blokov, Ivan: Promoting an Environmental Civil Society: Politics, Policy, and -1991 Experience, in: Review of Policy Research, Vol. 26, No. 6, 2009, pp. 729-759. 10 See Della Porta, Donatella & Mosca, Lorenzo: Global-Net for Global Movements? A Network of Networks for a Movement of Movements, in: Journal of Public Policy, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2005, pp. 165-190; Batterbury, Simon: Environmental Activism and Social Networks: Campaigning for Bicycles and Alternative Transport in West London, in: The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 590, No. 1, 2003, pp. 150- 1 and Grassroots Environmental Activism in Kaliningrad, in: Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, Vol. 81, No. 3, 1999, pp. 165-178; Liu, Jingfang: Picturing a Green Virtual Public Space for Social Change: A Study of Internet Activism and Web-Based Environmental Collective Actions in China, in: Chinese Journal of Communication, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2011, pp. 137- 166; Yang, Guobin: Weaving a Green Web: The Internet and Environmental Activism in China, in: China Environment Series, Vol. 2, 2003, pp. 89-93. 11 See Derville, Tiffany: Radical Activist Tactics: Overturning Public Relations Conceptualizations, in: Public Relations Review, Vol. 31, No. 4, 2005, pp. 527-533, p. 532. 48 egies and the extent of impact on government decisions in 12 cases of environmental mobilization from 2007 to 2014. All 12 cases are examples of bottom-up spontaneous citizen mobilization, focusing on individual actors.12 2 Methodology The paper discusses the impact of EA on governmental decisions in Armenia. Impact is defined as an ability to influence environmental decision-making. Influence is categorized as: NONE; a DELAY in implementation; a MODIFICATION of a decision or a course action; a REVERSION of a decision or a course of action. The four categories are not mutually exclusive: There can be a delay first and then a modification of an environmentally sensitive decision or a modification first, followed by a complete reversion. There can also be an implementation of the original decision after an initial delay. The DELAY, MODIFICATION and REVERSION types of influence represent different levels of impact, with the last category signalling the strongest type of impact. For cases where several types of impact were recorded, we report the strongest type -making. The Research Questions addressed in this paper are: RQ1. What strategies are employed by EA in an effort to influence governmental decision-making? RQ2. Which factors contribute to EA impact on governmenttal decision-making? RQ3. Which factors hinder EA impact on governmental decision-making? We do not claim to discuss a comprehensive list of factors facilitat- 12 See Johnson, Renee J. & Scicchitano, Michael J.: Willing and Able: Explainin: Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Vol. 52, No. 6, 2009, pp. 833- 846; Humphreys, David: Environmental and Ecological Citizenship, Civil Society, in: The International Spectator, Vol. 44, No. 1, 2009, pp. 171-183. 49 factors that can be clearly distilled from the data, using small-N approach, carried out in two steps. A comprehensive list of all more or less significant cases of EA for years 2007-2014 was compiled; key information was recorded for each case, using systematic document analysis, as elaborated below. The timeframe was selected based on 13 classification of environmental civic activism in Armenia: 2007 marks the rise of organized issue-specific EA campaigns; 2014 was selected as an end point for practical considerations.14 Creating the list of noteworthy EA cases, Ecolur 15 website was selected as the main source of information since the NGO has a constant monitoring and reporting system for raising public awareness on environmental issues; it maintains a regularly updated website with detailed information. All the articles on the website were checked for the following keywords: public concern; SOS; civic initiative; danger. Cases mentioned more than five times were selected. As a result 12 EA cases were identified. Further information on those cases was gathered from official documents; reliable mass media and internet sources. Information coded in each case included a short summary of the case, key actions, key stakeholders, approximate number of people involved in various activities, current status and the level of influence, measured in four categories described above. The case is considered as ongoing if the issue is not resolved and had been addressed in the media or by activists in 2015. The case is also considered ongoing if EA structures are clearly present (the group is active, has meetings, disseminates information through social media). The end date is assigned to a case if there has been a clear successful resolution of the case on a particular date (i.e. a decision to cancel contested construction) or if no news can be obtained on the particular EA. In this case, the year of the last available news or update is coded as the end date of the EA. 13 See Ishkanian, Armine et al.: Civil Society, Development and Environmental Activism in Armenia, Yerevan, 2013. 14 The research project commenced in January 2015. In preparation for the publication we followed up on all the 12 cases to identify developments of the current status: new developments, or end dates were added. 15 004. Its website (www.ecolur.org) continuously and systematically provides information about ecological conditions of Armenia, as well as reports about any type of activism that takes place in this regard. 50 The analysis of the cases is based on an additional study of all relevant documentation, news reports and ten in-depth interviews with activists, government officials and environmental policy experts. 3 Overall Analysis of Environmental Activism since 2007 3.1 Short Description of the 12 Cases (in Chronological Order) now). 1491 ha. of territory near the village of Teghut are allocated to a copper-molybdenum mine for 50 years of exploitation; 82% of the territory allocated to mining is covered with pristine forest; 357 ha. of the forest is to be cut down. Activists sounded the alarm and employed a broad repertoire of actions to no success. The factory already operates; a tailing dump is created. Activists continue contacting the relevant government bodies and providing them with evidence of the damage done to the environment and people living in the vicinity of the factory. The latest big event organized by the activists was on April 5, 2014 the socalled alter- The activists organized this action of protest in front of the venue where the of which gathered different state and non-state stakeholders. The ultimate purpose of the conference was to show to the public that mining was organized in a responsible way, which the protesters believed not to correspond to reality. Influence: NONE. The demand of the activists to ban the exploitation of the mine was not met, none of the demands of the activists during the 10 years of struggle was met. now). In September 2008, the Government of the RA officially designated Jermuk (a resort area during the Soviet Union) as a tourism centre. develop the Amulsar Gold Mine. Amulsar is 13 km far from the town of Jermuk. In 2014, the Ministry of Nature Protection approved the plan to exploit the mine. The main concerns of ecologists are that Jermuk will become polluted as a result of the exploi- 51 tation of the mine. Protests and appeals yielded no results. The construction has not yet started. Influence: NONE. during the Government session on 3rd of December, 2015, the Minister of Economy stated that the exploitation of the mine will start in summer 2016. However, the preparations are still ongoing, and according to official information provided by Lydian International , the exploitation will start in spring 2018. 2011). In 2008, the Ministry of Nature iron mine near the Hrazdan town. A year after getting the permission, the company had not started any building activity. According to the law of the Republic of Armenia on Environmental Impact Assessment (article 11 point 4) the approval lost its power; the prothe mine, which is only 630-650 meters away from the Hrazdan town. The key concern of the activists is the potential for highly toxic air pollution. Petitions and protests failed to affect the decision. The construction is proceeding as planned; no further activities are organized by the activists. Influence: NONE. The demand of the activists to ban the exploitation of the mine was not met. 2011). In 2009, Geo-Pro-Mining Company obtained a license to build a gold-processing factory near the lake Sevan, including the creation of a tailing dump near the lake. The dump is estimated to contain toxic chemicals. Previously the gold was transported to another factory for processing, but the company declared the transportation to be too expensive; arguing for the need to build a processing factory near the mine. However, the law on Sevan, article 10, bans this kind of activity there. EA consisted of signature collection, protests and an open letter to the President of RA. 52 Influence: MODIFICATION. The demands of the activists were met: the processing factory was not built. A breaking factory was built instead of the processing one. It is much less toxic. 2011). The Yerevan Municipality approved building two cafés in a public park. In order to build these cafés, many trees were to be cut, the public space was to shrink significantly. Despite a petition to the President, physical restriction of construction activities and an appeal to the Constitutional court, the construction went as planned. Influence: NONE. The demands of the activists were not met. 2012). In 2011, the Government made a decision to recognize 181.7 ha of eminent public benefit . The territory was given to Zangezur Company for extraction of molybdenum and enlargement of the output of the company. The territory included the graveyard of the village, an ancient church, and neighboured closely with several houses. The decision was made without any prior consultation with the villagers, and they were not notified in a timely manner. The head of the community closed the way with his car and did not let the tractors, sent for digging, onto the territory. This marked the beginning of the struggle. The campaign was led by the municipality head and the villagers. The process is currently frozen by the government; the decision is neither reversed, nor being enforced. Influence: DELAY. Although the decision (627-N) was to take force from January 1st of 2012, it has not been implemented until now. The Ministry of Nature Protection approved building a hydropower plant near Trchkan waterfall on Chichkhan River. The waterfall is on the list of protected natural areas; any economic activity is banned there. Building a hydropower plant would reduce the amount of water in the river, ultimately resulting in its drying up. Among other actions, activists or- 53 ganized a 24-hour watch near the waterfall and physically prevented the construction machinery from entering the territory. Influence: REVERSION. struction of the power plant was fully met. The Prime Minister issued a decree stopping the building of the power plant and banning any economic activity on the river in the future. 2014). ny, owned by a Canadian Dundee Precious Metals corporation wants to exploit the Shahumyan metal mine in an open way. The mine is situated just a kilometre away from the town of Kapan. The mine contains deposits of different metals, including gold. The plan foresees an estimated 50.000 trees to be cut. Additionally, there is a high risk of air and water pollution with heavy metals and toxic gasses. Activists and environmental experts demanded that the mine should, at least, be exploited not in an open-pit way. As a result of EA, the company changed its initial strategy adopting an underground exploitation technique. Influence: MODIFICATION. The initial policy of open-pit exploitation was modified; the demands of the activists were partially met. now). ploiting the Toukhmanuk gold mine near the village Melik since 2006. During the period between 2006 and 2012 it had built two tailing dumps; in 2012, it appealed to the Ministry of Nature Protection to build and use a third tailing dump. If built, the dump will be very likely to contaminate the nearby river and destroy significant portions of arable land in the nearby village. Amidst continued acand planning to open a new mine that would allow for a new dump to be built. Influence: DELAY. In 2012 the company appealed to the Ministry of Nature Protection for the permit. The activists lobbied against the permit, and the appeal was denied. However, the company reapplied for the permit with changes in the initial project, and it was 54 tentatively approved though the decision is not finalized and the construction has not started. The Yerevan Municipality decided to s (Abovyan Street) from boutiques that were occupying the pedestrian area by moving them to a public park, called the Mashtots Park . This decision aroused much public resonance because the boutiques would come to replace the public recreational space. Demonstrations in front of the city hall and at the construction site ensued, followed by physical restriction of construction activities and a 24-hour watch of the building site. As a result, the demand of the activists not to build the boutiques and save the park as a public recreational space was fully met. Influence: REVERSION. The initial plan to build the boutiques in the park was changed: President Serzh Sargsyan and the Mayor of Yerevan Taron Margaryan arrived at the site and the President ordered to demount the boutiques. 2013). Building of a second hydropower plant on the river Paghjur, not far from Lastiver waterfall arouse concerns among ecologists and activists. The inquiries of the activists showed that the construction had no legal base: no public decisions or legal documents allowed the construction. Apart from that, construction equipment had damaged many trees. The construction takes place in an area with high risk of sliding. Despite various activities, the main goal of banning the construction of the power plant was not achieved. The construction got legal approval and was implemented. Influence: DELAY/NONE. In August 2012, the Ministry of Nature Protection approved the construction of the power plant. After the protests in October 2012, the Ministry cancelled its previous decision. However, the company made some modifications to the plan and in March 2013, got a new approval. The power plant currently operates. 55 The Government passed two laws about Sevan, which raised concerns among activists. These laws were: 1) Amendment in the law on Sevan a provision of changing the yearly takeout of water by 40% for the upcoming five years. According to activists, this will result in mooring of the lake. 2) Artificially-grown fish to reach 50.000 tons per year. This will result in water pollution with the chemicals contained in the food given to the fish. This means that the water will no longer be drinkable. The activists voiced their concerns through a number of channels, including meetings with officials. Influence: MODIFICATION. Although not all demands of the activists were met, some of them were partially fulfilled: the decision to increase the water take-out by 40% for the upcoming five years was changed to one year. The decision of artificial fisheries in the lake is unchanged. 3.2 Analysis of the 12 Cases The previous section shortly summarized the cases and the respective levels of impact. Of the total 12 cases under analysis, there were five cases of no influence, two cases of delay, three cases of modification and two cases of decisions being completely reversed. Mining is the type of activity EA was most often concerned with: seven out of 12 cases fall into this category. There were also two cases of opposing a hydropower plant construction, two cases of opposing public green places in the capital being handed over to small businesses and a specific case related to the overall environmental health of the largest Armenian lake. Table 1 summarizes key characteristics of the cases and maps the strategies used by the EA in each case. 56 57 4 Impact on Government Decisions 4.1 Strategies As evident from Table 1, EA employs a broad spectrum of strategies, most of the time using at least three to four different types of action. The diversity of strategies, however, is a poor predictor of physical prevention of construction and a 24-hour watch, yet it genti-mining EA managed to delay the construction relying solely on appeals to the Government. In terms of types of strategies, protesting (ten cases) and contacting the Armenian government (11 cases), are the two most commonly used strategies, followed by petitions (seven cases). In addition to the Armenian government officials, EA brought its grievances to the attention of the international community representatives in Armenia (four cases), foreign officials or businesses outside of Armenia (three cases) and the corresponding businesses located in Armenia (two cases). There appears to be no pattern in terms of an outcome. Three cases attempted court litigation. The infrequency of this strategy can be explained by peculiarities of the Armenian legal system, which, until 2015 had no legal provision allowing NGOs to represent a community in a court. In addition, there is mistrust towards the legal system among the population. In all three cases, the activism led to no result, further undermining the perceived usefulness of such a strategy. It remains to be seen if the change of legal framework will lead to increased use of court litigation as EA strategy. Physical prevention of activities occurred in four cases, two of which led to success, and one to a delay of the implementation of the undesired project. Although physical prevention failed to have any impact in one case, it does suggest a measure of influence, especially when combined with a 24-hour watch established at the site of the undesirable construction activity. Such 24-hour watches were employed in only two cases, yet those are exactly the two cases of EA success and reversion of decisions, as elaborated in the next section. 58 4.2 Types of Influence In terms of outcome, the largest group of cases is that of EA failing to create any impact, despite the range of activities organized.16 Of five noninfluence cases, three are mining-related, one was opposition to small business, and one was opposition to a hydropower plant construction. The two cases of delay are strictly speaking cases in progress where it is hardly possible to speak of an outcome yet, except that EA has raised an alarm and created an opportunity for modifying or reversing a decision. It is also plausible that EA has raised costs of those particular environmentally detrimental activities, thus somewhat discouraging these and other similar projects. Although a delay is an indicator of at least some influence, it is not an indicator of successful EA. Our interlocutors also referred to this, stating that delay is not a good result: if after all the policy is carried out as planned, the activism was hardly useful. Of particular interest is the delay of the decision to allocate 181.7 ha of the territory of Qajaran village to Zangezur Copper and Molybdenum Combine. The government froze the implementation of its decision for an unspecified time. This is one of the rare cases of clear community action, rather than Yerevan-lead activist action. When heavy machinery entered the village territory to start mining, the community head blocked the way with his car. Together with the community head, many villagers closed the way for the construction machinery denying entry to the territory. This case is described by our activist interviewees as a major victory : although the decision is frozen the activists interviewed believe, that as long as the community head and villagers stand united, the government will not implement its decision. This is a rare case of locally-owned resistance; in all other cases, EA in regions is predominantly driven by Yerevan-based groups and individuals. Three cases of analysed EA created enough pressure to modify initial decisions. Two of the three cases of modification are related to Sevan lake. One case was a decision to build a gold processing factory very close to Sevan. This decision was modified: a breaking factory was built instead of a processing one. A processing factory 16 In one of the cases there was a temporary impact in the form of a delay, after which the construction of a hydro power plant commenced nonetheless. 59 uses a number of chemicals to process the minerals extracted and produces toxic waste, whereas the breaking factory only breaks the mineral extracted, preparing it for transportation to another place to be processed. Although the breaking factory causes dust pollution, it does not produce toxic waste. The next case related to Sevan is a modification of an amendment in the law on Sevan of 2014 and a new law on increasing fisheries. The amendment foresaw a 40% increase in the annual water release taken from the lake for the upcoming five years. This decision was modified: the five-year period was shortened to one year. The law referring to the artificially grown fish remained unchanged. The activists qualify this modification as successful because it provides more opportunities to lobby in the coming years. These two cases of modifications connected to Sevan show that activists are able to use the strategic importance of the lake as leverage for influencing the government. project, in addition to the Sevan gold mine described above. The issue was the exploitation of a gold mine. After a big wave of discontent, the initial project was modified; open-pit exploitation was replaced with less-toxic closed-pit exploitation mode. In two cases the activists managed to change the decisions completely. These two ca Both cases are characterized by a number of factors which might help explain the success. The constant presence of activists in the field. 24-hour camp was established and maintained for two weeks. In the -hour camp that lasted for ten days. This watch was aimed at preventing any construction activity until a final resolution was made. Physical prevention of construction activities. the boutiques. This brigade started demounting and continued to activists stopped the heavy machinery that was supposed to start the 60 construction of the hydropower plant. It has to be mentioned however that physical prevention of construction activities also occurred essentially blocked a mining project leading to a delay with unclear outcome and Save the Student Park case where it failed to have any impact. Therefore physical prevention, helpful as it is, is no guarantee of success. Direct involvement of the highest representatives of executive power. In both cases, high-ranking officials directly intervened and an- These officials arrived at the spots where the activists were protesting. 5 Conclusion The study of EA in Armenia, presented in this paper, discusses a range of strategies juxtaposed with various levels of impact. Out of 12 cases, three were delayed, three were modified, and two were fully changed. In four remaining cases there was no influence. In regard to the Research Questions formulated for this study, the results are summarized below. RQ1: What strategies are employed by EA in an effort to influence governmental decision-making? There is a broad repertoire of strategies employed; most EAs employ three and more strategies. More strategies do not mean more impact, though. In some cases, modification was achieved with relatively few types of strategies while a whole range of strategies led to no result in other cases. One particularly effective strategy seems to be the 24-hour watch at the site of undesired construction, combined with the physical prevention of construction activities. RQ2: Which factors contribute to EA impact on governmental decision-making? It was found that the two most successful cases, when the activists fully achieved a policy change, used the strategy of 24-hour presence at the sites and physical prevention of construction activities. To emphasize the effectiveness of these strategies, it should be mentioned that in the case of Qajaran, the only mining-related case 61 that was delayed, the villagers also used the strategy of physical prevention of construction activities. Thus, it can be stated that constant presence and physical prevention of undesirable activities facilitate influence on policy-making. RQ3: Which factors hinder EA impact on governmental decision-making? From eight cases of influence on policy-making, only two cases are mining-related: delay in Qajaran and modification in Kapan. Moreover, from four cases with no influence three are mining-related (Teghut, Hrazdan, and Amulsar). Neither of the two cases where activists achieved full change and cancelation of the initial decisions is related to mining. It can be concluded that mining is a major obstacle for influencing policy-making. However, it should be noted that further research is likely to reveal more obstacles, for instance, obstacles related to the activists or organization of initiatives.

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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.