September 27, 2016

Discourse of post-April events in Nagorno-Karabakh

By Lidiya Chikalova
CRRC-Armenia International Fellow



The April 2016 events on the line of contact have destabilized the security situation in the Southern Caucasus. An attempt to change the status quo in the region was not successful. The mediation of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is postponed until further initiatives from conflict actors. The regional and global geopolitical players, Russia, Turkey, EU, the USA, and Iran, present in the conflict arena are contending for dominance in the region. Have April events in Nagorno-Karabakh changed the geopolitical outlay? This question is analyzed within the CRRC-Armenia international fellowship by means of ten collected expert interviews both in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

On the regional level, heirs to the former empires step in – Russian, Ottoman, Persian. States with geopolitical and economic interests keep a diplomatic game rolling in favor of dominance. On the global level other powerful states and unions like the US and Europe step in to seek for access to the Caspian and Black Sea regions. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict becomes a good leverage for the maneuvering of external players in the regional and global security spaces. Therefore the overall geopolitical picture of Nagorno-Karabakh is very complex.  

The core arguments of the study were formed around Russian perspective on its regional dominance. The first hypothesis argued that Russia is a primary, but not the only influential player in the Southern Caucasus. Second, that Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a battlefield between Russia and Turkey for geopolitical dominance, not between Russia and the US. The data was collected in Armenia (7 interviews) and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (3 interviews) from political experts and researchers, chosen on the basis of active and continuous research in the field.

According to the findings based on interviews, Russia is a primary major player today, but not the only one. Turkey together with the USA are balancing Russia in the region. Respondents were asked to state what country, in their opinion, is dominating in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Question posed
Response
Rn
Is Russia the primary player in Nagorno-Karabakh?
Yes. Also more Turkey, than the US
1
Yes, Russia is the only player
2
Yes. Also more Turkey, than the US
3
Yes. Also more Turkey, than the US
4
Yes, Russia is the only player
5
Yes, Russia is the only player
6
Both Turkey and Russia
7
Yes, Russia is the only player
8
Yes, Russia is the only player
9
Both Turkey and Russia
10


The second hypothesis, which is Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a battlefield between Russia and Turkey for geopolitical dominance, but not between Russia and the West was confirmed as well. Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the only stage where Russia and the USA agree on action steps and have constructive dialogue.


Question posed
Response
Rn


Do Turkey and the USA threaten Russia’s geopolitical dominance in Nagorno-Karabakh particularly?
Both. More Turkey, rather than the US
1
No, Russia is the only player
2
Both. More Turkey, rather than the US
3
Both. More Turkey, rather than the US
4
No, Russia is the only player
5
No, Russia is the only player
6
Turkey, not the USA
7
No, Russia is the only player
8
No, Russia is the only player
9
Turkey, not the USA
10


Several case scenarios were revealed on the basis of interviewees’ responses. A part of the questionnaire was focused on current status quo in the Southern Caucasus region and a change of the situation. Further questions helped assess the current mood towards conflict development in the Armenian society: What has got to happen for the present status quo to change? Which confrontation is ongoing in the Nagorno-Karabakh: Turkey vs. Russia or the West vs. Russia? Is Russia considered as the only player, if not, who are other players? With the inefficiency of international organizations like the OSCE and the UN and peace talks what outcomes/developments can we see in the region? Based on responses from interviewees and content analysis of phrases “increase of conflict”, “escalation”, “conflict resolution”, “external measures”, “war”, and “peace” author compiled elements of three possible case scenarios of the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh. The ultimate case scenario majority of respondents expressed was case-scenario B with elements of case-scenario C.  


Case scenario A
n/a
If to keep the escalation of the conflict in mind, then Georgian August-2008 scenario is possible. There might be a time for similar events when leaders are outside of the country.
Case scenario B
Rn: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,
The intensity of the conflict will continue, it will increase/decrease, but the seriousness of actions, like war will not happen again. The peace process will continue without a proper conflict resolution.
Case scenario C
Rn: 1, 10
After the war, parties (external) to the conflict might decide that serious measures must be undertaken. A decision will be made for all actors to accept. With the lack of political will from both sides, any sensible resolution will be imposed.

The April events, a four-day war, have not changed the geopolitical outlay on the whole. Russia remains a major player in the region who seeks to keep the status quo. Moreover, Russia is involved very much in peace process between Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic represented by Armenia, which has not been reached so far. Turkey steps into the game for regional dominance, unlike the USA, and sparks rivalry with Russia. Experts agreed on the possible case scenario for Nagorno-Karabakh, excluding potential conflict resolution in the near future.




September 24, 2016

The Republic of Armenia in Numbers

By Sonia Siropian, CRRC-Armenia Volunteer
     Mariam Arakelyan, CRRC-Armenia Program Assistant



Source: Caucasus Barometer 2008, 2015

August 4, 2016

Trust towards political institutions: variations from titular ethnicity to ethnic minority in Azerbaijan and Georgia

By Mariam Arakelyan
CRRC-Armenia Program Assistant



Trust towards political institutions strengthens the legitimacy, stability and efficiency of any government. Distrust can be very helpful to encourage the government to work better, but at the same time distrust costs alienation and withdrawal from the political processes, as well as results in a fragile state that is unable to mobilize national resources or shape a collective vision for national development (Dimond, 2007). There is no consensus in scientific literature regarding the potential causes of trust. While, some scholars, attribute trust toward the institutions to cultural norms (Mishler, Rose,2001 ) others consider trust as an expected utility of institutions performing satisfactorily (Coleman, 1990; Dasgupta, 1988; Hetherington, 1998 as cited in Mishler, Rose, 2001). 

Trust becomes more crucial for multi-ethnic countries that have the responsibility to protect the rights of ethnic minorities, including indigenous people. It can well be the case that in such countries ethnic minorities exhibit lower level of trust toward political institutions than the ethnic majority, as they may face problems of integration, can remain highly underrepresented in central and local government and administration as well as can be socially, economically and culturally marginalized. The aim of this blogpost is understand the level of trust ethnic minorities exhibit toward the political institutions in the two countries of the South Caucasus: Georgia and Azerbaijan. Armenia is excluded from the analysis as it is a mono-ethnic country, with the majority of the population being ethnic Armenians. 

The fact that relatively large communities of ethnic minorities live compactly in Georgia and Azerbaijan allows us to compare a data of one administrative unit populated by ethnic minority with a similar unit populated by the title ethnicity. Particularly, in the case of Georgia the regions of Kvemo Kartli (45% of ethnic Azerbaijanis[1]) and Samtskhe-Javakheti (54.5 % of ethnic Armenians) will be compared to the region of Imereti (99% of ethnic Georgians). In the case of Azerbaijan the Economic administrative unit of Quba-Xaçmaz (with compact population of Lezgians) will be compared to Dağlıq Şirvan (majority of ethnic Azerbaijanis).


For the analysis the 2013 wave of the Caucasus Barometer survey is utilized[2]. Trust toward the President, toward the Parliament and toward the Government is the main variables under scrutiny. Respondents were asked following question “Please assess your level of trust toward each of the political and social institutions on a 5-point scale, where ‘1’ means “Fully distrust”, and ‘5’ means “Fully trust”.

Chart 1 depicts respondents’ trust toward the political institutions in the Georgian regions under scrutiny. 

                                Chart 1
Note: The original question: “Please assess your level of trust toward each of them on a 5-point scale, where ‘1’ means “Fully distrust”, and ‘5’ means “Fully trust”. How much do you trust or distrust /country’s/…?” The original question was recoded: answer options “Fully trust” and “Somewhat trust” into “Trust” and answer options “Somewhat distrust” and “Fully distrust” into “Distrust”.
According to the Chart1 people in Kvemo Kartli expresses higher level of trust toward the president, the government and the parliament compared with Imereti and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions. In Kvemo Kartli 53% of population show trust, while 51% of Imereti population express their distrust for president (At the time of fieldwork (October 3-27, 2013) incumbent president in Georgia was Mikheil Saakashvili)[2], which opposes the suggested hypothesis. Moreover, “Do not know” is the answer of 20% and 17% of Kvemo Kartli population for the trust respectively toward the Parliament and the Government. At the same time, Chart 1 presents the fact that population of Samtskhe-Javakheti has the most accentuated indifference toward the political institutions, as the level of “neither trust nor distrust” for all three institutions is higher than it has been expressed by the people living in remaining two regions and the lowest level of “Distrust” among the Georgian regions. 

                                Chart 2
Note: The original question: “Please assess your level of trust toward each of them on a 5-point scale, where ‘1’ means “Fully distrust”, and ‘5’ means “Fully trust”. How much do you trust or distrust /country’s/…?” The original question was recoded: answer options “Fully trust” and “Somewhat trust” into “Trust” and answer options “Somewhat distrust” and “Fully distrust” into “Distrust”.
The case of Azerbaijan also seems not support the suggested hypothesis as the population of Quba-Xaçmaz, populated by ethnic minorities expresses as much trust as that of Dağlıq Şirvan. Interestingly, the trust toward the president is very high in both regions. Particularly, in Dağlıq Şirvan 77% of the respondents trust the president, while in Quba-Xaçmaz only 60%.

The current analysis seems to be in conflict with the reports on Azerbaijan that suggest minority right protection problems and harassment. However, it can also be the case that the respondents are unwilling to answer to the questions sincerely as the freedom of speech is heavily constrained in Azerbaijan. 

In sum, the blogpost fails to find a relationship between being an ethnic minority and expressing distrust toward political institutions in the two republics of the South Caucasus: Georgia and Azerbaijan.




[1] Please note that Caucasus Barometer survey is representative for countries but is not representative for administrative units, therefore results are made with reservation.. Trust toward the President, toward the Parliament and toward the Government is the main variables under scrutiny. Respondents were asked following question “Please assess your level of trust toward each of the political and social institutions on a 5-point scale, where ‘1’ means “Fully distrust”, and ‘5’ means “Fully trust”. 
[2] Data of National Statistical Service of Georgia (2002), which during last decade showed increasing tendency

July 12, 2016

Social Alienation of Syrian-Armenian Immigrants in Armenia: Sociological Analysis

By Shushan Ghahriyan
CRRC-Armenia Yerevan State University Scholarship Holder



The Syrian crisis, started in 2011, forced many Syrian-Armenians to leave Syria and resettle in Armenia. Followed by the challenges brought by war, in Armenia they faced problems that are common for the locals as well. Thus the research is focused on bringing out the manifestations of social alienation among Syrian-Armenians.
To analyze the phenomenon of social alienation among Syrian-Armenian immigrants we will refer to M. Seeman's (1959) approach to social alienation who defines the concept in terms of powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation and self-estrangement. Later, isolation was divided into social isolation and cultural isolation (Middleton, 1963).

Powerlessness
According to our results, powerlessness predominantly refers to inability to control desired outcomes of behavior and it is mainly expressed in socio-political situations. Respondents most often mention that they cannot change anything in Armenia, cannot improve their conditions as mostly everything depends on the Government and changes should come from there. This feeling of powerlessness is connected to the fact that Syrian-Armenians do not yet consider themselves as a part of the Armenian society.  
Social isolation
Powerlessness is closely related to social isolation. According to the interviews we can say that social isolation causes the feeling of powerlessness. When talking about social isolation we need to take into account the place of origin of Syrian-Armenians. In contrary to the ones from Allepo (a large city in Syria), people from Qamishli (a small city with strong community ties), feel more isolated as they cannot restore former ties and relationships as well as the community life they used to have.
Cultural estrangement
Cultural estrangement manifests in value differences. Syrian-Armenians are affected by oriental culture and this has its effects on their outlook. It was also mentioned that Syrian-Armenians are more business-minded than the locals.
Normlessness
Normlessness mainly refers to the ineffectiveness of laws. Usually problems in Armenia are being solved through “mediators”, people who are considered as informal problem solvers. This way of problem solving is very common in the Armenian reality. Thus we can say that this institute of “mediators” is to some extent a social capital in the Armenian society. From this viewpoint normlessness is not as obvious as other dimensions of alienation among Syrian-Armenians because they do not have the relevant social networks through whom it would be possible to solve problems in Armenia. Thus they rely only on formal, legal regulations which do not function properly.
Meaninglessness
Switching to the next dimension that is meaninglessness we should mention that it is connected with the person's past experience in different aspects and spheres. The notions of meaninglessness can be divided into two parts. The first is that it is meaningful to start a new initiative in Armenia, to have long-time plans, as Armenia is desired and sweet homeland for Syrian-Armenians and they still think that it is worth linking future with it. The second is that everything is uncertain in Armenia and one cannot predict what will happen in the near future. That's why they do not see any meaning in initiating, creating, planning something.
Self-estrangement
And the last dimension of social alienation is self-estrangement. It mainly refers to the situation when Syrian-Armenians lost something from their self. Most of Syrian-Armenian immigrants cannot realize themselves in Armenia as they do in Syria. When talking about self-estrangement first of all we should mention the loss of prestige and respect they had in Syria. We can state that self-estrangement is more specific to men. As for women, here in Armenia they have more opportunities for self-realization which was difficult in Syria surrounded by Muslims who have their strong rules concerning women.

To sum up, we should mention that these issues if not solved can deepen the feeling of alienation and create obstacles for integration to the society in Armenia.

About YSU Scholarship
Highly appreciating partnership with Yerevan State University and strong commitment to contribute to the excellence of social science research in Armenia, Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC)-Armenia has launched Yerevan State University Scholarship program in 2014. The goal of the program is to encourage young researchers, who make their first steps in social science research. For that purpose, CRRC-Armenia provides single-time financial support to two Master’s students from the departments of Sociology, and Economics and Management to allocate resources for field organization and first-hand high-quality data collection and analysis for their master thesis. 

April 26, 2016

Does education make a difference in attitude towards homosexuality in Armenia?

By Mane Adamyan
CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow

Theoretically, the aim of the education is not only to provide people with basic knowledge and technical skills in a particular sphere but also to shape their worldview and critical thinking. During their education, individuals are introduced to lifestyles and new ideas, interact with their peers and get acquainted with nonconformity which gradually becomes natural. Prior empirical work (Ohlanderet al., 2005; Lambertet al., 2006; Treas,2002, Loftus,2001) evidenced a positive correlation between education and tolerance towards sexual minorities. However, the case of Armenia is understudied in the literature.
Stemming from the above-mentioned  discussion, this blog post aims at revealing the relationship between education and attitude towards homosexuality in the Republic of Armenia.  

The question below measures the tolerance towards homosexuality:

 “To what extent do you agree with the following statements?”[1]

  1.       Male homosexuality is a perversion.
  2.       Female homosexuality is a perversion.
Since the gender of the respondent may bias the perception of different types of homosexuality (e.g., male respondent may be more tolerant towards female homosexuals than male homosexuals), the above-mentioned question is split into sub-questions to account for that phenomenon.

As depicted in Chart 1, Armenian public has highly negative views towards gays and lesbians. Only 6% of the respondents disagree that male homosexuality is a perversion. Similarly, only 4% of the respondents believe that women should not be “condemned” for their sexual orientation.

Chart 1
Note: The answer options for the statements “Male homosexuality is a perversion” and “Female homosexuality is a perversion” were grouped as follows: “Strongly disagree” and “Somewhat disagree” were grouped into “Disagree” while “Strongly agree” and “Somewhat agree” were grouped into “Agree”. 

Regarding the education profile of the respondents, out of 977 only 333 have higher education, 597 completed secondary education, 40 have only primary education and 7 respondents are students, applicants or pupils. 

Chart 2
Note: The answer options for the question, “Education” were grouped as follows: options “Illiterate”, “Primary education” and “Basic education” were recoded into “Primary education”. Options “Secondary education”, “Vocational education” and “Secondary technical education” were recoded into “Secondary education”.  Options “Incomplete higher education”, “Higher education” and “Postgraduate” were recoded into “Higher education”.

Chart 3 illustrates the results of the cross-tabulation analysis. It shows that 85% of the highly educated individuals who participated in the survey express negative attitude towards female homosexuality. In case of respondents with secondary education this statistics primes to 96%. The attitude towards male homosexuality is similar to that of female homosexuality. In particular, 81% of the respondents with higher education express negative attitude towards male homosexuals. For respondents with secondary education this result increases to 94%.

Chart 3

In sum, we evidence almost no effect of education on positive attitude towards sexual minorities in the Republic of Armenia. The explanation for this phenomenon can be fewfold. First, Armenian society is highly religious. In particular, more than 80% of the respondents accept to be religious according to the Caucasus Barometer (2015)[2]. Second, given the traditional nature of the Armenian society, family is considered as a supreme value, which may undermine the effect of education on respondents’ attitudes towards sexual minorities.




[1] Social Attitudes towards LGBTI people in Armenia”, [2015]. “Public Information and Need of Knowledge” NGO in Armenia, in cooperation with Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group NGO from Georgia, within the frames of the project “Solidarity Network for LGBTI in Armenia and Georgia” financed by Heinrich Böll Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office, are carrying out a comprehensive study of social attitudes towards LGBTI people, including a survey carried out by CRRC-Armenia. The results of this research will be presented in July, 2016.
[2] Caucasus Barometer is a nationwide household survey with over 6,800 respondents across the South Caucasus. It runs annually in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia based on the same methodological approach and the same survey instrument.