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October 8, 2004

ACNIS Opinion Polls on Armenia's Independence

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today released the results of both a specialized questionnaire and a public survey on "Armenia's Thirteen-Year-Old Independence and Sovereignty," which it conducted in September among 50 experts and 1526 citizens from Yerevan and all of Armenia's regions.

ACNIS economic and diaspora affairs analyst Hovsep Khurshudian greeted the invited guests and public participants with opening remarks. "Thirteen years are probably not a long period to assess Armenia's independence and sovereignty, but it is important to look back to analyze, evaluate, and find necessary mechanisms to surmount our shortcomings. Both the public and expert surveys aim to achieve this goal," he said.

ACNIS legal and political affairs analyst Stepan Safarian presented "The Results of the Survey," focusing in detail on the findings of the expert and public opinion polls. Accordingly, a plurality of surveyed citizens and specialists (43.8% and 34%, respectively) assert that the losses of the independence era are more than its gains, while 8.8% and 26%, respectively, say the gains are more than the losses. Hence, independence is valued more among professional circles.

28.8% of citizens think that Armenia's main achievement since its independence is the establishment of the army and 18% the liberation of Mountainous Karabagh. In contrast with the public survey, 46% of experts choose liberation of Mountainous Karabagh as the key accomplishment of Armenia, and only 16% the organization of a military. Among other achievements of the independence years 8.9% of citizens mark strengthening of ties with the Diaspora, 6.2% formation of people's free thinking, 1.9% shaping of national institutions, and 3.7% a return to national and religious roots. In the expert opinion poll the corresponding findings are 4%, 4%, 10%, and 4%. According to 11.7% of citizens and 4% of experts, Armenia has not registered any achievement since independence. 4.2% of citizens and 6% of experts find this question difficult to answer.

Among the broader public, 38.4% point to poverty, emigration, unemployment and other social evils as the main negative phenomenon since Armenia's independence, 10.2% check economic decline and turmoil, 14.7% formation of clans, 9.4% decline in educational level, 3.6% deterioration of the health care system, 6.1% isolation of the country, 10.3% human losses in Karabagh's fight for freedom, and 2.9% restriction of civil and political rights. In the expert opinion poll the findings are 24%, 4%, 24%, 6%, 4%, 12%, 6%, and 12%, respectively. 45.6% of citizens and 50% of experts think that their families' standard of living has declined, 26.7% and 20% say it has remained the same, and only 18.2% and 26% confirm it has improved.

The plurality of respondent citizens (33.7%) and experts (36%) opine that all branches of national authority are equally anti-democratic. 13.9% of citizens surveyed consider the presidency to be the most anti-democratic institution, 9.6% the judiciary, and 9.2% the national assembly. The expert indices read 36%, 26%, and 2%, respectively.

Most public respondents (31.2%) deem the terrorist act committed in the Armenian parliament on October 27, 1999 as having the biggest negative impact on the nation's path of development, whereas the experts (42%) note the falsification of presidential election results in 1996, 1998, and 2003. 4.8% of citizens and 14% of experts find falsification of the parliamentary election results in 1995 and 2003 to be the most negative.

24.8% of citizens and 50% of experts mark the Armenian triumph in the Karabagh war as carrying the biggest positive effect for the nation's development, 17.8% and 20% the cease-fire with Azerbaijan, 6.4% and 10% adoption of the Armenian Constitution, 8.4% and 8% membership in the Council of Europe, and 18.2% and 0%, respectively, the treaty of strategic cooperation with Russia.

25.7% of citizens and an alarming 60% of experts are convinced that, if the present system stays in place, Armenia will move toward authoritarianism; 14.6% and 20% think it will approach totalitarianism; and 17.8% and 8%, respectively, forecast a tendency to democracy. Things are no better along democracy's timetable: 16.8% of citizens and 22% of experts believe that Armenia will overcome the current obstacles and become a democratic country in at least ten years, whereas 18.7% and 30% think it will take 25 years, 14.7% and 6% 50 years, and even 11.5% and 6% 100 years. More optimistic on this score are the specialists, 20% of whom hope for the victory of democracy within the next five years. Only 4.2% of citizens, on the other hand, hold the same opinion. The most pessimistic group of experts (6%) and citizens (20.1%) does not believe Armenia will ever become a democratic country.

Only 13.6% of the public and 12% of experts conclude that Armenia is truly independent and sovereign in its decisionmaking, while 70.4% and 80% do not.

Public Survey
Yes
13.6%

No
70.4%

Difficult to answer
16%

 

Expert Survey
Yes
12%

No
80%

Difficult to answer
8%

 

Correspondingly 50.4% and 80% of them believe that the decisions made in Armenia first and foremost depend on Russia, 8.8% and 8% on the United States, and 14.8% and 4% on the European Union.

Public Survey
Russian Federation
50.4%

United States of America
8.8%

European Union
14.8%

Difficult to answer
22.5%

Other
3.5%
  • All of them equally
  • European Union and Russian Federation
  • Russian Federation and USA
  • Iran

 

Expert Survey
Russian Federation
80%

United States of America
8%

European Union
4%

Difficult to answer
6%

Other
2%
  • All of them equally

43% of citizens are of the view that Armenia should maximally integrate with Russia, 10.3% with Europe, and but 3.8% with the United States. The respective findings of the expert opinion poll, quite distinctly, are 2%, 60%, and 8%.

Public Survey
Europe
10.3%

Russia
43%

USA
3.8%

Our regional neighborhood
(Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran)
3.3%

All of them and equally
18.8%

None
12.8%

Difficult to answer
7.5%

Other
0.5%
  • Russia and Iran
  • Iran and Georgia
  • Europe and Russia
  • Russia and USA
  • Together with the region into Europe
  • Iran, Greece, Bulgaria, China, India

 

Expert Survey
Europe
60%

Russia
2%

USA
8%

Our regional neighborhood
(Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran)
4%

All of them and equally
24%

None
0%

Difficult to answer
2%

The second item on the day's agenda was a comment by former prime minister Vazgen Manukian, chairman of the National Democratic Union, on "Independence and Sovereignty: Reality or Ideal?" From his perspective, Armenia was granted independence, the gravity and value of which were therefore underestimated from the very beginning. Moreover, both the majority of intellectuals and traditional parties were against independence, while the government continues to pursue a policy contradicting the letter and spirit of sovereignty. These measures do not promote the two basic blessings of independence: perpetuation of the nation and extension of its international influence. "Independence, the calling of which is to solve the problem of national development, is not duly applied in our lives, and a mere change of authority will not fix this situation," he emphasized.

The formal presentations were followed by contributions by former minister of state Vahan Shirkhanian; Stepan Minasian of the People's Party of Armenia; former parliamentarian Khoren Sargsian; Armine Gasparian of the Institute of Culture and National Values; former state minister Hrach Hakobian; Gagik Tadevosian of the National Unity Party; Artashes Ghazakhetsian of the Armenia 2020 Project; Albert Baghdasarian of the National Democratic Union; Yerevan State University professor Haik Sargsian; former Yerevan mayor Vahagn Khachatrian; political analyst Artsrun Pepanian; California Superior Court Judge Zaven Sinanian; American-Armenian attorney Armen K. Hovannisian; and several others.

43.5% of the public respondents are male and 56.5% female. 13.7% are 16-20 years of age, 21.8% 21-30, 22.5% 31-40, 20.4% 41-50, 11.4% 51-60, 7% 61-70, 2.2% above 70, and 1% refused to answer. 43.5% of the citizens surveyed have received a higher education, 12.1% incomplete higher, 18% specialized secondary, 21.2% secondary, and 2.1% incomplete secondary training. 54.2% are actively employed, 20.3% are unemployed, 6.9% are pensioners, 2.2% welfare recipients, and 15.6% students. 59.7% are urban residents, and 40.3% are from rural areas. 32.6% of them hail from Yerevan, the remainder from the regions.

Among the experts, 72% are male and 28% female. 10% are 21-30 years of age, 32% 31-40, 34% 41-50, 18% 51-60, and 2% above 60. All of them have received a higher education: 2% are full professors (PhD) and 30% candidates of sciences, 66% hold a Master's degree, and 2% have earned solely a Bachelor's degree. 20% are journalists by profession, 14% physicists or radio-physicists, 10% political scientists, 8% economists, 8% mathematicians, 8% managers, and 6% historians.


Founded in 1994 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K. Hovannisian, and supported by the Lincy Foundation and a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider understanding of the new global environment. In 2004, the Center focuses primarily on public outreach, civic education, and applied research on critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.

For further information on the Center and its activities, call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; e-mail root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am

 
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