For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.
Area: 29,800 sq. km. (11,500 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Maryland.
Terrain: High plateau with mountains, little forest land.
Climate: Highland continental, hot summers, cold winters.
Nationality: Noun--Armenian(s). Adjective--Armenian.
Population: Estimates range from 2,967,004 (CIA World Factbook, July 2009 est.) to 3,235,000 (Armenia National Statistical Service, October 1, 2008 est.).
Ethnic groups: Armenian 97.9%; Yezidi 1.3%; Russian, Greek, and other 0.8%.
Religion: Armenian Apostolic Church (more than 90% nominally affiliated).
Languages: Armenian (96%), Russian, other.
Health: Infant mortality rate--20.21/1,000. Life expectancy--72.68 years.
Work force (1.481 million; 7.1% unemployed): Industry and construction--15.6%; agriculture and forestry--46.2%; services--38.2%.
Constitution: Approved in July 1995 referendum, amended in November 2005.
Independence: 1918 (First Armenian Republic); 1991 (from Soviet Union).
Branches: Executive--president (head of state) with wider powers relative to other branches, prime minister (head of the ministerial cabinet). Legislative--unicameral National Assembly (parliament). Judicial--Constitutional Court (constitutional matters exclusively); Court of Cassation, Appeals Courts (Civil and Criminal), Courts of First Instance.
Administrative subdivisions: 10 marzes (regions) and capital Yerevan (status of community since 2008).
Political parties represented in the National Assembly: Republican Party of Armenia, Prosperous Armenia, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Dashnaktsutyun, Rule of Law (Orinats Yerkir), and the Heritage Party. Other political parties and movements include: Armenian National Congress, People's Party of Armenia, National Accord Party, Republic Party, New Times Party, United Labor Party, Dashink Party, National Democratic Union, Armenian National Movement, and dozens of other registered parties, many of which become active only during national campaigns, if at all.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP: $8.71 billion.
GDP growth rate (CIA World Factbook, 2009): -14.4%.
Per capita GDP PPP (World Economic Outlook, 2009 est.): $4,915.
Inflation (CIA World Factbook, 2009): 3.4%.
Natural resources: Copper, molybdenum, zinc, gold, silver, lead, marble, granite, mineral spring water.
Agriculture: Products--fruits and vegetables, wines, dairy, some livestock.
Industry: Types--diamond-processing, metal-cutting machine tools, forging-pressing machines, electric motors, tires, knitted wear, hosiery, shoes, silk fabric, chemicals, trucks, instruments, microelectronics, jewelry manufacturing, software development, food processing, brandy.
Trade: Exports--$698 million: pig iron, unwrought copper, nonferrous metals, diamonds, mineral products, foodstuffs, energy. Export partners (2009)--Germany 16.5%, Russia 15.4%, U.S. 9.6%, Bulgaria 8.6%, Georgia 7.6%, Netherlands 7.5%. Imports (2009)--$3.3 billion: natural gas, petroleum, tobacco products, foodstuffs, diamonds. Import partners (2009)--Russia 16%, U.A.E. 8.8%, Ukraine 5.6%, Turkey 4.8%, Georgia 4.6%, Iran 4.4%.
PEOPLE AND HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS
Ethnic groups in Armenia include Armenians (98%), Kurds, Russians, Greeks, and others. More than 90% of the population is nominally affiliated with the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is considered to be the national church of Armenia. Languages are Armenian (96%), Russian, and others.
Armenia first emerged around 800 BC as part of the Kingdom of Urartu or Van, which flourished in the Caucasus and eastern Asia Minor until 600 BC. After the destruction of the Seleucid Empire, the first Armenian state was founded in 190 BC. At its zenith, from 95 to 65 BC, Armenia extended its rule over the entire Caucasus and the area that is now eastern Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon. For a time, Armenia was the strongest state in the Roman East. It became part of the Roman Empire in 64 BC.
In 301 AD, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, establishing a church that still exists independently of both the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches. During its later political eclipses, Armenia depended on the church to preserve and protect its unique identity. From around 1100 to 1350, the focus of Armenian nationalism moved south, as the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, which had close ties to European Crusader states, flourished in southeastern Asia Minor until it was conquered by Muslim states.
Between the 4th and 19th centuries, Armenia was conquered and ruled by, among others, Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Mongols, and Turks. For a brief period from 1918 to 1920, it became an independent republic. In late 1920, local communists came to power following an invasion of Armenia by the Soviet Red Army, and in 1922, Armenia became part of the Trans-Caucasian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1936, it became the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. Armenia declared its independence from the Soviet Union on September 21, 1991.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Armenians voted overwhelmingly for independence in a September 1991 referendum, followed by a presidential election in October 1991 that gave 83% of the vote to Levon Ter-Petrossian. Ter-Petrossian had been elected head of government in 1990, when the Armenian National Movement defeated the Communist Party. Ter-Petrossian was re-elected in 1996 in a disputed election. Following public demonstrations against Ter-Petrossian's policies on the predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh that is located within Azerbaijan, the President resigned under pressure in January 1998 and was replaced by Prime Minister Robert Kocharian, who was subsequently elected President in March 1998. Following the October 27, 1999 assassination in Parliament of Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian, Parliament Speaker Karen Demirchian, and six other officials, a period of political instability ensued during which an opposition headed by elements of the former Armenian National Movement government attempted unsuccessfully to force Kocharian to resign. Riding out the unrest, Kocharian was later reelected in March 2003 in a contentious election that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the U.S. Government deemed to have fallen short of international standards.
The Government of Armenia's stated aim is to build a Western-style parliamentary democracy as the basis of its form of government. However, international observers have been critical of the conduct of national elections in 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2008, as well as the constitutional referendum of 2005. The new constitution in 2005 increased the power of the legislative branch and allows for more independence of the judiciary; in practice, however, both branches remain subject to political pressure from the executive branch, which retains considerably greater power than its counterparts in most European countries.
The unicameral National Assembly has 90 seats that are elected by proportional representation (party list) and 41 that are single mandate districts. Armenia held its most recent parliament elections in 2007, when the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) won 33% of the votes cast, followed by Prosperous Armenia (15%), the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Dashnaktsutyun (13%), Rule of Law (7%), and the Heritage Party (6%). This election also was marred by irregularities. The RPA and Prosperous Armenia joined to form a governing coalition which secured an absolute majority of parliament seats. The ARF negotiated a cooperation agreement with the governing coalition in exchange for ministerial positions, but declined to join the coalition formally, instead reserving the right to support its own candidate for the February 19, 2008 presidential election.
The Republican Party of Armenia, Prosperous Armenia, the Rule of Law, and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Dashnaktsutyun signed a new coalition agreement on March 21, 2008. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation resigned from the coalition in April 2009, citing differences over the conduct of foreign policy.
The 2008 presidential election, while originally deemed by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to be “mostly in line” with OSCE standards, was later seen to be marred by credible claims of ballot stuffing, intimidation (including beatings) of poll workers and proxies, vote buying, and other irregularities. Recounts were requested, but ODIHR observers noted “shortcomings in the recount process, including discrepancies and mistakes, some of which raise questions over the impartiality of the [electoral commissions] concerned.”
Mass protests followed the disputed vote. For 10 days, large crowds of pro-opposition demonstrators gathered in Yerevan’s downtown Freedom Square. Police and security forces entered Freedom Square early in the morning on March 1, 2008, ostensibly to investigate reports of hidden weapons caches. This operation turned into a forced dispersal of demonstrators from Freedom Square by massed riot police. Following the clearing of Freedom Square, clashes erupted in the afternoon between massed demonstrators and security personnel, and continued throughout the day and evening, leading to 10 deaths and hundreds of injuries. President Kocharian decreed a 20-day state of emergency in Yerevan late on March 1, which sharply curtailed freedom of media and assembly. Dozens of opposition supporters were jailed in the wake of the violence, in proceedings that many international watchdog groups criticized as politically motivated. Armenia's media freedom climate and freedom of assembly remained poor overall, though somewhat improved after the state of emergency was lifted. Serzh Sargsian took office as President in April 2008.
Principal Government Officials
Prime Minister--Tigran Sargsian
Foreign Minister--Edward Nalbandian
Defense Minister--Seyran Ohanian
Ambassador to the U.S.--Tatoul Markarian
Ambassador to the UN--Garen Nazarian
Armenia's embassy is located at 2225 R Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20008; tel: 202-319-1976; fax: 202-319-2982.
Armenia is the second most densely populated of the former Soviet republics. It is a landlocked country between the Black and the Caspian Seas, bordered on the north by Georgia, to the east by Azerbaijan, on the south by Iran, and to the west by Turkey. Up until independence (1991), Armenia's economy was based largely on industry--chemicals, electronic products, machinery, processed food, synthetic rubber, and textiles--and highly dependent on outside resources. Agriculture accounted for only 20% of net material product and 10% of employment before the breakup of the Soviet Union. In recent years, the construction sector has taken off, fueled by an ambitious government-backed construction project in the capital, and remittances to relatives by ethnic Armenians living in Russia and the United States.
Like other New Independent States of the former Soviet Union, Armenia's economy still suffers from the legacy of a centrally planned economy and the breakdown of former Soviet trading networks. While investment from these states in support of Armenian industry has virtually disappeared, and few major enterprises are still able to function, Russian entities have nevertheless increased their exposure in the mining, energy, telecommunications, and transportation sectors. In addition, the effects of the 1988 earthquake, which killed more than 25,000 people and made 500,000 homeless, are still being felt, though international donors and diaspora Armenian groups continue to fund reconstruction efforts in the earthquake zone.
Although a cease-fire has held since 1994, the 2-decade-old conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has not been resolved, in spite of intensive efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group to reach a settlement. The consequent closure of both the Azerbaijani and Turkish borders resulting from the war has prevented Armenia from realizing its economic potential, because of Armenia's dependence on outside supplies of energy and most raw materials. Land routes through Azerbaijan and Turkey are closed, though air connections to Turkey exist; land routes through Georgia and Iran are inadequate or unreliable. In 1992-93, GDP fell nearly 60% from its 1989 level. The national currency, the dram, suffered hyperinflation for the first few years after its introduction in 1993.
The structure of Armenia's economy has changed substantially since 1991, with sectors such as construction and services replacing agriculture and industry as the main contributors to the economic growth. The diamond processing industry, which was one of the leading export sectors in 2000-2004 and also a major recipient of foreign investment, faced a dramatic decrease in output since 2005 due to raw material supply problems with Russia and overall decline in international diamond markets. Other industrial sectors driving industrial growth include energy, metallurgy, and food processing.
Despite the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Government of Armenia has been able to carry out wide-ranging economic reforms that have paid off in dramatically lower inflation and steady growth. Armenia registered strong economic growth beginning in 1995, with double-digit GDP growth rates every year from 2002 to 2007.
After rapid expansion in 2001-2007, with average 13% annual GDP growth, economic and financial conditions worsened rapidly in Armenia in 2008, due to a drop in international metals prices and a downturn in the Russian economy following the collapse of oil prices in late 2008. The end of a remittance-fueled construction boom that had driven growth in recent years resulted in a 14.4% drop in real GDP for 2009 (compared to 6.8% GDP growth in 2008), with about 80% of this decline due to a plunge in the construction sector. The economy recorded positive growth rates in the first months of 2010.
Armenia maintains a floating exchange rate regime with no explicit exchange rate target. The nominal exchange rate of the Armenian dram with major currencies was fairly stable between 1998 and 2003. During 2003-2007, the Armenian dram appreciated sharply against the U.S. dollar by around 45%, mainly due to significant growth in remittances, growth of exports in absolute terms, the de-dollarization of the economy, and weakening of the dollar in international markets. The appreciation of the dram negatively affected the traditional export industries, including information technology, diamond cutting, the wine industry, and textiles. Exporters responded to the increased costs by either reducing their production capacity or by reducing their number of employees in order to stay afloat. The exchange rate was mainly stable at around 300 drams per dollar during 2008 and until March 2009, when the Central Bank stopped its heavy intervention in the foreign exchange market and the dram devalued by around 25%. The exchange rate remained broadly stable during 2009, with only a few interventions from the Central Bank to prevent sharp depreciation.
Armenia is highly dependent on import of energy fuel, mainly from Russia. The Armenia Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP) at Metsamor provides around 40% of electricity generation for the country, and hydro and thermal plants provide roughly 30% each. Armenia imports most of its natural gas from Russia, which provided significant discounts to Armenia until 2009. The Russian import gas price rose from $110 to $154 per thousand cubic meters in April 2009, and increased further to $180 in April 2010. However, the current price is still below the international average of over $300, and in the coming years the price is expected to converge with market prices.
In May 2009 Armenia began receiving gas from Iran through a recently constructed pipeline, which is meant to diversify Armenia's gas supply. Much of the Iranian gas is expected to be used for power generation.
Armenia imports nearly all of its refined petroleum products through Georgia. The recent conflict between Russia and Georgia resulted in periodic disruptions of fuel and food imports, and highlighted Armenia's vulnerability to this single transit corridor.
Armenia has received significant support from international institutions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), as well as other international financial institutions (IFIs) and foreign countries are extending considerable grants and loans. These loans are targeted at reducing the budget deficit, stabilizing the local currency; developing private businesses; energy; the agriculture, food processing, transportation, and health and education sectors. In 2009 Armenia received more than $1.5 billion in donor financing for budget support and various government-led anti-crisis programs.
Continued progress will depend on the ability of the government to strengthen its macroeconomic management, including increasing revenue collection, improving the investment climate, and making strides against corruption. A liberal foreign investment law was approved in June 1994, and a law on privatization was adopted in 1997, as well as a program on state property privatization. Armenia joined the World Trade Organization on February 5, 2003.
See also "U.S. Assistance to Armenia" below.
Armenia is trying to address its environmental problems. It has established a Ministry of Nature Protection and has introduced a pollution fee system by which taxes are levied on air and water emissions and solid waste disposal, with the resulting revenues used for environmental protection activities. Deforestation by mining concerns in certain parts of the country have resulted in periodic protests by environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and stirred controversy over government policies to support investment in the mining sector. Armenia is interested in cooperating with other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS--a group of 11 former Soviet republics) and with members of the international community on environmental issues. Armenia is under strong pressure from the international community to close its aging nuclear power plant (ANPP) at Metsamor by 2016. Given that Armenia depends on the ANPP for over 40% of its electricity, the Armenian Government sees no alternative to construction of a new nuclear plant. A U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded initial planning study was completed in September 2008, and concluded that a new nuclear plant is the least-cost option to replace the existing facility. The Armenian Government is continuing with the planning process for a new plant.
DEFENSE AND MILITARY ISSUES
Armenia established a Ministry of Defense in 1992. Border guards subject to the National Security Service patrol Armenia's borders with Georgia and Azerbaijan, while Russian border guards continue to monitor its borders with Iran and Turkey. In August 2010 the Government of Armenia signed an extension to this agreement with Russia, providing for a continued Russian border guard presence until 2046.
The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty was ratified by the Armenian parliament in July 1992. The treaty establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of military equipment, such as tanks, artillery, armored combat vehicles, combat aircraft, and combat helicopters, and provides for the destruction of weaponry in excess of those limits. Armenian officials have consistently expressed determination to comply with its provisions in spite of concerns they have about Azerbaijan exceeding that country's treaty limits. Armenia has provided data on armaments as required under the CFE Treaty and is receptive to CFE inspections. There are indications that Armenia is trying to establish mechanisms to ensure fulfillment of its arms control obligations. Armenia is not a significant exporter of conventional weapons, but it has provided substantial support, including materiel, to ethnic Armenian separatists in the disputed and predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh located within Azerbaijan's borders.
In March 1993, Armenia signed the multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention, which calls for the eventual elimination of chemical weapons. Armenia acceded to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state in July 1993. The U.S. and other Western governments continue to discuss efforts and initiatives to establish effective nuclear export control systems with Armenia.
Armenia is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Neighborhood Program of the EU, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), NATO's Partnership for Peace, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization (BSEC), the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the World Trade Organization.
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 as a show of support for Azerbaijan in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. On October 10, 2009, the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Armenia signed normalization protocols that called for the opening of the Turkey-Armenia border, establishing diplomatic relations, and the creation of a number of sub-commissions addressing bilateral issues. However, the protocols have not yet been ratified by either country, and Armenia formally suspended parliamentary consideration of the protocols on April 22, 2010. The Armenian Government stressed its willingness to reactivate the process “when there is a proper environment in Turkey and there is leadership in Ankara ready to reengage in the normalization process.”
In 1988, the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave within Azerbaijan, voted to secede and join Armenia. This act was the catalyst that led Armenia and Azerbaijan into a full-scale armed conflict that claimed the lives of over 30,000 on both sides. Armenian support for the separatists led to an economic embargo by Azerbaijan, which has had a negative impact on Armenia's foreign trade and made imports of food and fuel, three-quarters of which previously transited Azerbaijan under Soviet rule, more expensive.
Peace talks in early 1993 were disrupted by the seizure of Azerbaijan's Kelbajar district by Nagorno-Karabakh Armenian forces and the forced evacuation of thousands of ethnic Azeris. Turkey in protest then followed with an embargo of its own against Armenia. A cease-fire was declared between Azerbaijani and Armenian/Nagorno-Karabakh forces in 1994 and has been maintained by both sides since then in spite of occasional shooting along the line of contact. All Armenian governments have thus far resisted domestic pressure to recognize the self-proclaimed independence of the "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic," while at the same time announcing they would not accept any peace accords that returned the enclave to Azerbaijani rule. Approximately 572,000 of the estimated 800,000 ethnic Azeris who fled during the Karabakhi offensives still live as internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan (according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, quoting Azerbaijani Government statistics, June 2008), while roughly 4,700 of 360,000 ethnic Armenians who fled Azerbaijan since 1988 remain refugees.
Negotiations to peacefully resolve the conflict have been ongoing since 1992 under the aegis of the Minsk Group of the OSCE. The Minsk Group is currently co-chaired by the U.S., France, and Russia. Negotiations have intensified since 2004. Robert Bradtke became U.S. Co-Chair in 2009.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 brought an end to the Cold War and created the opportunity for bilateral relations with the New Independent States (NIS) as they began a political and economic transformation. The U.S. recognized the independence of Armenia on December 25, 1991, and opened an Embassy in Yerevan in February 1992.
U.S.-Armenian Economic Relations
In 1992 Armenia signed three agreements with the U.S. affecting trade between the two countries. The agreements were ratified by the Armenian parliament in September 1995 and entered into force at the beginning of 1996. They include an "Agreement on Trade Relations," an "Investment Incentive Agreement," and a treaty on the "Reciprocal Encouragement and Protection of Investment" (generally referred to as the Bilateral Investment Treaty, or BIT). Armenia does not have a bilateral taxation treaty with the U.S. The 1994 Law on Foreign Investment governs all direct investments in Armenia, including those from the U.S.
Approximately 70 U.S.-owned firms currently do business in Armenia, including Dell, Microsoft, and IBM. Recent major U.S. investment projects include the Hotel Armenia/Marriott; the Hotel Ani Plaza; Tufenkian Holdings (carpet and furnishing production, hotels, and construction); several subsidiaries of U.S.-based information technology (IT) firms, including Viasphere Technopark, an IT incubator; Synopsys; a Greek-owned Coca-Cola bottling plant; jewelry and textile production facilities; several copper and molybdenum mining companies; and the Hovnanian International Construction Company.
U.S. Assistance to Armenia
The United States has made a concerted effort to help Armenia and other NIS during their difficult transition from totalitarianism and a command economy to democracy and open markets. The cornerstone of this continuing partnership has been assistance provided through the Freedom for Russia and Emerging Eurasian Democracies and Open Markets (FREEDOM) Support Act, enacted in October 1992. In 2009, FREEDOM Support Act funds were merged with another account and renamed Assistance to Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia (AEECA). Under this and other programs, the U.S. to date has provided Armenia with nearly $2 billion in humanitarian and development assistance. An overview of U.S. assistance to Armenia can be found at http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/fs/140589.htm. In addition, the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force, established in 2000, is a bilateral commission that meets annually to review the progress and objectives of U.S. assistance to Armenia. The November 2010 meeting was held in Yerevan, Armenia.
U.S. assistance seeks to support Armenia's transition into a stable partner at peace with its neighbors, fully integrated into the regional economy, where principles of democracy are respected, the benefits of economic growth are shared by all segments of society, and Armenia's human capital potential is fully realized. During the past year, the United States provided multifaceted assistance to Armenia through a variety of programs designed to promote economic growth, encourage democratic governance, improve the health and social protection systems, and enhance Armenia’s peace and security. The United States also provided humanitarian assistance to the poor, elderly, and other vulnerable groups. Assistance is provided through a “whole of government” approach that involves a number of U.S. Government agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Justice, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
On March 27, 2006, Armenia signed a 5-year, $236 million Millennium Challenge Corporation compact with the United States; the agreement entered into force on September 29, 2006. The MCA-Armenia program is focused on reducing rural poverty through a sustainable increase in the economic performance of the agricultural sector. This goal is being achieved through a 5-year program of strategic investments in rural roads, irrigation infrastructure, and technical and financial assistance to water supply entities, farmers, and commercial agribusinesses. MCC placed a hold on funding for a significant portion of the rural road rehabilitation project because of serious policy concerns about the spring 2008 election. At the June 2009 MCC Board meeting, the decision was made not to resume funding for any further road construction and rehabilitation due to concerns about the status of democratic governance. Funding for irrigation infrastructure and technical assistance, representing nearly $180 million of the compact’s value, remains in effect and under implementation.
Promoting Economic Growth
U.S. assistance addresses Armenia’s economic vulnerabilities, which have been exacerbated by the global economic crisis, while continuing to support economic competitiveness. The U.S. continues to work closely with international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to help Armenia continue its transition to a robust free-market economy. USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) implement the largest of the United States’ economic assistance activities. In addition to its broader assistance programs, USAID implements a range of economic assistance programs designed to enhance Armenia’s macroeconomic foundation for growth; promote trade and investment; focus on private sector competitiveness and workforce development in selected industries, including information technology and tourism; and develop the financial sector and fiscal authorities to achieve a business-enabling environment.
USDA's Caucasus Agricultural Development Initiative provides targeted and sustained technical and marketing assistance to small and medium-sized agribusinesses, farmer-marketing associations, and the Government of Armenia. USDA's goal is to sustain the productivity of the agricultural sector by expanding access to markets and credit, increasing efficiency, and modernizing agriculture systems. USDA's priority assistance areas are: Farm Credit, Food Safety and Animal Health, support to the Armenian private sector through the NGO CARD, Agricultural Statistics, and Agricultural Education. Also, as a training component of USDA projects in Armenia, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cochran Fellowship Program provides training to Armenian agriculturists in the United States.
Enhancing Democratic Governance
U.S. assistance in Armenia seeks to enhance the Government of Armenia’s capacity to govern justly and democratically. Among other areas, U.S. assistance programs are designed to: strengthen the rule of law, including by improving legal education, capacity of the defense bar and prosecutors, judicial ethics, and human rights protections; fight corruption and improve the transparency, accountability, and interaction with citizens by government entities, particularly at the local level; increase civic participation and government accountability by bolstering civil society, strengthening independent media, and increasing access to information; and promote free and fair elections and greater citizen participation in the political process. U.S. assistance works to enhance access to information by providing for translation and publication of printed materials, and promotes transparency in electoral processes by supporting international and domestic monitoring of Armenia’s elections.
Educational exchange programs also play an important role in supporting meaningful democratic and free-market reforms by instilling important core values in Armenia’s youth. Professional exchange programs in the U.S. for Armenian lawyers, judges, political party members, business people, government officials, NGO activists, journalists, and other public figures have focused on a range of topics, including the American judicial and political system, privatization, specific business sectors, the media, and civil society.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Marie L. Yovanovitch
Deputy Chief of Mission--Bruce Donahue
Political/Economic Chief--Barton Putney
Assistance Coordinator--Charles Lobdell
Consular Officer--Robert Farquhar
Management Officer--Veronica Hons-Olivier
Regional Security Officer--Timothy Leveque
USDA Marketing Assistance Project Director--Frederic Johnston
USAID Director--Jatinder Cheema
Public Affairs Officer--Karen Robblee
The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia is at 1 American Avenue; tel: 374-10-46-47-00; fax: 374-10-46-47-42.