Europe Needs To Be More Proactive In Embracing Armenia


David Akopyan

About David Akopyan

David Akopyan is a native Armenian who has spent the last 20 years of his career as a development practitioner. He is now Chief of Operations at UNDP in Somalia. Previously, he worked in Afghanistan, Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan. He started his U.N. career as national officer and then Assistant Resident Representative with UNDP in Armenia. In 1991-1993 he was Senior Research Associate with the Centre for Business Research and Development at the American University of Armenia. He holds an MBA from American University of Armenia and a Ph.D. from Yerevan State University in laser physics as well as a M.A. in theoretical physics.

Armenia, located at the crossroads between Asia and Europe, has often been a victim of centrifugal forces from the centres of gravity it is surrounded by. Roman and Persian armies frequently met on Armenian highlands in fierce battles already in the first centuries of the new era. Having had one of the most tragic pages in the nation’s history in 1915 when almost 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by Ottomans, Armenia was left with no choice but to join the emerging new Russian-led empire of the 20th century — the Soviet Union.

Armenians being entrepreneurial and mobile by nature were not much fit with the totalitarian regime they spent 70 years in and were always looking for European/Western  alternatives. When the moment came and the regime started to scramble in the late 1980s, Europe was the only centre of gravity and the promised land in reach for most of Armenians.

The EU-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (1999) provided a wide-ranging cooperation, encompassing political dialogue, trade, investment, economy, lawmaking and culture. It was the culmination of the nation’s aspiration for many decades —  in fact,  centuries, and the country was set to eventually become an EU member. Farther in 2004 Armenia’s was included in the European Neighbourhood Policy (2004) and the Eastern Partnership (2009).

However, an unexpected 180 degree turn came in September 2013 when President Sarkisian decided not to continue the negotiated Association Agreement with the EU and soon after after that, in January 2015, Armenia joined the Eurasian Economic Union (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia). Armenian politicians decided to take a less risky path and not to challenge the giant to the north and, unlike Ukraine and Georgia, the country did not get on a political rollercoaster that the less fortunate neighbours could not avoid.

However, the short term gains soon gave way to a longer term economic stagnation and sustaining current political and economic system that in the long run does not provide a path to the promised land. Unlike some of comrades from the EEU the country does not have a safety cushion of oil revenues and landing in stagnation is quite painful for the majority of the population. The lack of oil revenues also makes Armenian political life more dynamic and the country is the only one among the EEU members that had relatively democratic processes in the last 25 years with three Presidents elected with always reasonable alternate candidates and solid electoral campaigns.

The next election is scheduled for 2018 and will be a critical decision moment for Armenians, as it will set the country’s future for the next decade either with the EEU i.e. de facto with Putin, or with Europe. Europe also needs to be more proactive in embracing Armenia, offering its value proposition, opening borders to the country that has been knocking its door for the last 700 years.


The views expressed in this opinion editorial are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.



2018 Elections — Vital Decisions for Hungary’s Future

Victor Orban energing europe

The EU’s Benign Neglect Of Eastern Europe

The GREAT London Food Scene

Bakery in London

People Power Reminds the Government of the Rule of Law

The Capital Markets Union: a New Beginning in the European Financial Sector?

Belarus 2020: Turning the Vicious Circle Into an Upward Spiral

Polish Tax Laws — Fighting a Winning Battle Against Tax Evaders

Falling into Old Ways in 2017? Ukraine’s Struggle for Functioning Economic Institutions

Are There Differences Between How Tax Regulations in Poland and IAS Treat Intangible Assets?

A Positive and Modern View of Entrepreneurship

Czech Republic Renaming Has Real Economic Costs

The Netherlands’ Objection to the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement could be Costly to Europe

The CEE Region Is Making Advances in Prioritising Waste-to-Energy Projects

Examining How a Strong Swiss Franc Could Single-Handedly Topple Poland’s Economy

Can Armenia Keep a Foot in Both Camps?

European union armenia russia emerging europe

Prepare for a New Europe

International Women’s Day — Let’s Take Action And Then Celebrate

Let’s Stop Wasting Time Redefining our Place in Europe

Moldova Falls Victim to Politicising

moldova emerging europe

The Right to Water: Who Can Change Today’s Situation?

PiS Uses Media Control to Bring Poland to Heel

Jaroslaw kaczynski pis emerging europe

Could the West At Least Help Ukraine To Insure FDI Against Political Risks?

Poland’s Capital Saturation Lower Than the Czech Republic’s

deloitte fdi poland

Business Moving Forward with Cautious Optimism — Can Investors Win the Confidence Game?

Azerbaijan: The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Nothing


EU-CEE Is Still Growing at a Healthy Rate

Prague emerging europe

Impact of Brexit on EU-CEE Not Overstated

theresa may brexit

Measuring Growth of Societies with GDP Alone Shows an Incomplete Picture

Stuck in Neutral: Georgia’s Constitutional Reforms

Tbilisi Parliament Georgia

Resignation in Ukraine: War, Revolution, Crisis — Some Things Never Change

Where’s My Cheese? – The GREAT British Food Tour 2014

Cheese Shop

Poland’s Unicorn, Slovakia’s Flying Car and the Future of Europe

History as Destiny? Institutional Erosion in Ukraine and Poland

Hungary’s Nationalist Assault on Free Enquiry

victor orban ceu

Adam Smith’s Warning for Poland

Global Expansion in the Digital Age

Ukraine’s Reputation for Cheap Labour May Not Ring True in the Long-term

Poland’s Drift Away From Democracy

How strong is V4?

Viktor Orban

Finalising the DCFTA is Expected to Bring Multiple Benefits to Ukraine

The Competitive Edge in Central and Eastern Europe

SOFIA BULGARIA - MAY 5: View of the Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia on May 5 2016. Sofia is the largest city and capital of Bulgaria.

CEE — Do We Need a Launch Pad For Our On-Site Tech Intelligence in the Silicon Valley

Old Fashioned Skulduggery Overshadows the Elections in Moldova

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Moves from Frozen to Kinetic


Big Fish, Small Fish, Where to Fish? On the Eve of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Bulgaria Needs a Reform-Oriented Government to Take Full Advantage of its EU Membership

bulgaria emerging europe

Macedonia’s Controversial Coalition Government

SKOPJE MACEDONIA emerging europe

Romania Surviving the Waves of Recent Political Tsunamis in Europe

Czech Own Currency Insures Against Euro Losses

Euro Czech republic emerging europe

European Volatility Makes Economic Development Slower for Ukraine

United or Divided? Europe in the Face of the Challenges of Tomorrow

Ex-Transition Economies’ FDI Recovery

dollar euro fdi

A New Division Between Eastern And Western Europe?

LGBT in CEE — A New Acceptance Is Being Born From Migration

January Kicks Off an Exciting Year for Emerging Europe

The Global Outsourcing Industry — the Rise of the Phoenix

Brexit: Let’s Learn the Lesson and Hope a Better Europe Will Arise

The EU’s Choice: Fundamental Reform Or Disintegration

Will a Two-speed European Union Side-line the Visegrad Four?

A Bosnian Referendum Shows Russia’s Influence in the Balkans—As Well As Its Limits

Breaking With Imitations of the Past

How Will Trump’s Visit Affect Polish Politics?

Donald trump

Good Match But Unlikely Marriage

EU Visa-Liberalisation Strengthens Georgia’s Pro-Western Path

georgia emerging europe eu

The Long Tail of Global Expansion

Outsourcing in Germany: Stop Talking at and Start Talking to

Fiscal Policy Predictability in CEE — It’s Time for Change

The Sharing Economy Could Bring New Business Models to CEE

Poland’s Confusing GDP Growth

Changing Perspectives and Showing That True Romania is a Vibrant Innovative Country

How Will Poland Approach the Brexit Negotiations?

Albania’s Election Apathy

tirana albania

Will the New Five-day Visa-free Regime Encourage More Visitors to Belarus?

The Voice of European Business Must Be Heard Loud and Clear by Brexit Negotiators

China: A Giant That Is Hard to Crack

Not All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Europe at Odds over OPAL and Nord Stream 2

After 25 Years of Restructuring, the Romanian Power Sector Is at a Crossroad

Poland: Is it Ready, and is it Time to Adopt the Euro?

Serbia’s New PM Is Cut From a Familiar Cloth

Serbian flag emerging europe

We, the Post-Communist Generation, Have the Skills to Rid of the Past And Create Our Own Future

Are Labour Shortages Driving Economic Growth?

Poland Needs to Cling to the Eurozone

zloty euro emerging europe

The Morawiecki Plan Promises a Brighter Future for Poland

Central and Eastern European Consumers Are Joining the Global Trends for Change

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *