July 27, 2011

Survey Presentation by CRRC Regional Director Hans Gutbrod in Yerevan

CRRC Regional Director Dr. Hans Gutbrod conducted two presentations for international community on July 25, 2011 in Yerevan, Armenia, based on the surveys conducted by CRRC.

The first presentation was on "Armenia 2011 Media Public Opinion and Preference Survey" at Congress hotel. The survey is a part of USAID funded Alternative Resources in Media (ARM) program. The study portrays Armenian media landscape through the eyes of an average Armenian, as well as a media professional; it provides data on media preferences, media-related attitudes and a range of insights into specific topics, such as perceived level of media independence, media consumption patterns, alternative media and so on.

Alternative Resources in Media (ARM) program aims at enhancing and improving access to pluralistic and unbiased information in Armenia via traditional and alternative media through the use of new information technologies. The ARM program is jointly implemented by Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Internews Network (USA), Internews Media Support NGO and Yerevan Press Club. The program is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Deputy USA Ambassador in Armenia John Maher and Head of USAID Democracy and Governance Office Stephen Brager were among the guests of the presentation.

More information on Alternative Resources in Media survey is available at http://www.crrc.am/index.php/en/169.

In the afternoon Dr. Gutbrod conducted another presentation at USAID on the main findings of Caucasus Barometer 2010, implemented in the countries of the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) in fall 2010.
Caucasus Barometer (previously known as Data Initiative Program) is a program of CRRC, implemented annually starting from 2004. It aims to collect information on public perception, concerning social, political and economic issues. This survey gives a unique opportunity to make cross country comparisons, as well as monitor the changes in public perception in separate countries throughout years.
For more information on Caucasus Barometer please visit http://www.crrc.am/index.php/en/14

July 13, 2011

To Cut the Knot. A Gordian Solution to the Turkish-Armenian Question

On July 8, 2011 CRRC-Armenia organized a public lecture on "To Cut the Knot. A Gordian Solution to the Turkish-Armenian Question", delivered by Dr. Robert Nalbandov from Angelo State University.

During the lecture Dr. Nalbandov presented his paper "To Cut the Knot. A Gordian Solution to the Turkish-Armenian Question". The paper is yet under development and is on the debate on the recognition and naming of the massacres of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 as genocide. It presents a novel and radical approach to the solution of this century-long political problem by transferring insecurity and fear of Pressure Dilemma to an external security guarantor, the European Union, with its highly normative human rights framework.

Dr. Nalbandov is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Security Studies, Angelo State University, has taught international relations for almost 10 years at various universities. Dr. Nalbandov has BA in English Linguistics from Tbilisi State University; MPA from the Georgian-American Institute of Public Administration; MA in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; and PhD in Political Science from the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary. He has extensively published on the topics of civil wars, international relations theories, human rights and foreign policy.

More Information to Accompany the Forbes Economic Ranking of Armenia as '2nd Worst'

In the first week of July, when outdoor café populations are blooming and tourist season is in full swing in Yerevan, Armenia was announced by Forbes magazine, as second worst out of 177 economies in the world. Click here for the full article. Forbes is a biweekly American business magazine. Ratings for this list were based on ‘three-year average statistics for gross domestic product growth and inflation,’ IMF estimates for 2012, and ‘whether the country is importing more than it exports.’

This is the second year of the World’s Worst Economies list publication. The Armenian media cite the global economic crisis as the harbinger for low ratings, since its effects hit the country fully only several years ago. Hence, a swing of the Armenia’s average numbers in a more negative direction for the Forbes’s evaluation.

Democratic Republic of Congo
Sierra Leone
Though Georgia and Azerbaijan were on neither list for better comparisons, more comprehensive world lists give a slightly different picture. This is the case for the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation’s 2010 Economy Ranking. In this list of 183 countries, Armenia, at 48, ranks above Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia, and even Turkey.

Transparency International was referenced in the Forbes article through its Global Corruption Perception Index. This citation’s relevance is founded within the claim that suffering economies often face the issue of internal corruption. Ironically enough, Forbes did not specifically mention Armenian corruption factors, despite its 2.6 score.

Corruption Perceptions Index Results: Transparency International (1-10 scale, 10 = least corruption)

For Armenia, the factor of corruption is being surveyed and measured through different outlets. Here is Life In Transition: Country Assessments section for more information on Armenia by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Such progress is evidenced when in April Armenia was commended by the International Monetary Funds (IMF) Executive Board for ‘continued implementation of sound policies’ for previous awarded monies that had ‘helped underpin a steady recovery from the global financial crisis.’ These words of encouragement came while announcing a disbursement of aid whose sum totaled close to US$60 million. Click here for full article.
As early as October 2010 the IMF had reported an economic growth in Armenia of at least 4% despite it having high imports, which in large part was attributed to an economic upturn in Russian. (Click here for full article.)
In the end, such information surrounding the Armenian struggle for stability, however disheartening, does come with reassuring predictions if one digs a bit deeper. While organizations such as CRRC and its international counterparts readily work to improve the Armenian situation, the move towards better yearend results in the future will be slow, but rest assured steady.

July 6, 2011

Conference on Social Protection and Social Inclusion in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia

The South Caucasus Social Protection and Social Inclusion regional conference was held in Tbilisi, Georgia on May 19th and 20th. Both the CRRC-Armenia and CRRC-Azerbaijan offices presented country reports on these issues.

Supported by the European Commission (EC), the reports provide overviews of the economic systems, labor markets and education systems in the South Caucasus. The research outlines demographic trends, and examines the modernization of the social protection systems in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Moreover, they address issues of poverty, pensions and healthcare.

Attendees of the conference, organized by the EC as well, were mostly Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian government officials from relevant ministries and agencies, as well as NGOs and research organizations.

The country reports (in English) can be downloaded from here. You will find them useful reference documents on all the issues of social protection and social inclusion in the three countries. Executive summaries are available in Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani as well as in Russian.