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Turkey Will Never Recognize the Armenian Genocide

In April, the White House recognized the Armenian genocide, marking a milestone in Armenian foreign policy. The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs lists genocide recognition as one of its major policy priorities, and Armenians around the world have long lobbied the international community for this end. Now, the big question facing Armenia and Armenians, including those in the diaspora, is where to go next. Today, more than 30 governments recognize the deportations and massacres perpetrated by Ottoman authorities in 1915 as genocide, and there are discussions about how Armenia—and other societies that have experienced trauma—can and should continue to commemorate the past in an ethical manner.

Some suggest Armenia should push for further genocide recognition in other countries, with the goal of eventually compelling Turkey—which has long been resistant to the move—to follow suit. But although such an approach is understandably attractive, it may be a strategic mistake in the long term. For Yerevan and the diaspora to better advance the interests of the Armenian people, it must refocus its diplomacy from lobbying the wider international community to transforming relations with the Turkish state and, more importantly, Turkish society. Inevitably, this will require some flexibility when it comes to Armenia’s framing of the past. But there are both practical and moral reasons why flexibility in the name of rapprochement with Turkey is the right move.

In April, the White House recognized the Armenian genocide, marking a milestone in Armenian foreign policy. The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs lists genocide recognition as one of its major policy priorities, and Armenians around the world have long lobbied the international community for this end. Now, the big question facing Armenia and Armenians, including those in the diaspora, is where to go next. Today, more than 30 governments recognize the deportations and massacres perpetrated by Ottoman authorities in 1915 as genocide, and there are discussions about how Armenia—and other societies that have experienced trauma—can and should continue to commemorate the past in an ethical manner.

Some suggest Armenia should push for further genocide recognition in other countries, with the goal of eventually compelling Turkey—which has long been resistant to the move—to follow suit. But although such an approach is understandably attractive, it may be a strategic mistake in the long term. For Yerevan and the diaspora to better advance the interests of the Armenian people, it must refocus its diplomacy from lobbying the wider international community to transforming relations with the Turkish state and, more importantly, Turkish society. Inevitably, this will require some flexibility when it comes to Armenia’s framing of the past. But there are both practical and moral reasons why flexibility in the name of rapprochement with Turkey is the right move.

Practically, improved relations with Turkey are likely to increase the well-being of Armenians. As a landlocked state, an open border and active trade could facilitate economic development and alleviate poverty in a country where average salaries remain below $400 a month and close to 20 percent of the population say they would consider emigrating. Rapprochement with Ankara may also allow Yerevan to address its near-total dependence on Russia, thereby promoting greater regional stability. And Turkey would also benefit, especially through increased trade.

Equally important, however, are the moral dimensions of an Armenia-Turkey détente. Morality in this context may sound abstract, but in practice, it can serve as a guide to building relationships that are robust and can be sustained. A focus on achieving justice alone—through unilateral action or external arbitration—may provide a sense of validation to victims, but it can also fuel resentment, sour relationships, and lead to future violence. Armenia and Turkey are a case in point of this cycle in action. It’s time to break it.

To achieve more effective, mutually beneficial relations, both the Armenian and Turkish governments should work to reframe the Armenian genocide—and the wider suffering that accompanied the downfall of the Ottoman Empire—as a shared history. This is an inevitably long, emotionally strenuous process. For Armenia, it means shifting toward a diplomacy that invites Turkish society to engage—whether through exhibitions, travel, or academic and cultural exchange. Indeed, Armenian and Turkish societies have far more in common than what divides them. They may find the same in their histories.

It goes without saying the Turkish government won’t be recognizing the Armenian genocide anytime soon. But a reframed history has a reasonable chance of success of resonating with the Turkish public. The little polling available, conducted by the Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul, suggests only 9 percent of Turkish citizens believe Turkey “should apologize” for its actions against the Armenians and “should admit that what happened was a genocide.” Yet various other conciliatory steps—such as solely apologizing and other expressions of specific or generalized regret—garner the support of nearly 45 percent of the population. Most importantly, only 21 percent of the respondents said Turkey “should take no steps” on the “Armenian issue.” 25 percent did not respond to the question.

The potential willingness by nearly 55 percent of the Turkish people—and lack of objection by around 80 percent—to explore their troubled past represents a clear opening for it to be reframed inclusively. But how can this be done? One approach may be to focus on individual experiences rather than collective castigations.

The potential willingness by nearly 55 percent of the Turkish people to explore their troubled past represents a clear opening.

Cem Özdemir, a German politician of Turkish descent, who argued for recognition of the Armenian genocide by the German parliament in 2016, has suggested more attention could be given to the many “Turkish Schindlers” who went out of their way to save their Armenian fellow citizens. Dozens of Turks and Kurds in the Ottoman Empire—from district governors to ordinary people—stood in solidarity with Armenians in various ways during the genocide, yet their stories remain largely untold.

Focusing on individual actions would reduce hateful narratives of the “other,” which have arguably stymied reconciliation efforts between Armenians and Turks. Genocide recognition sometimes mingles with anti-Turkish sentiment, which does little to shift attitudes in Turkey itself. As Armenian-American historian Ronald Suny wrote, “essentializing the other as irremediably evil leads to the endless repetition of the debilitating conflicts and deceptions of the last century.”

For Turkey’s Armenians, Biden’s Genocide Declaration Makes Little Difference

A century after the mass killings, Armenians in Turkey are still outcasts.

Armenia Is Still Grieving

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To help others out of their self-referential loops, one needs to comprehend why they are trapped in them. It is insufficiently understood—not only in Armenia but among policy elites around the world—why many Turks remain wary of Western powers, some of which have been at the forefront of genocide recognition. Turkish distrust is in part a result of the Treaty of Sèvres, the vindictive 1920 settlement that dismembered and humiliated the Ottoman Empire and sought to eliminate much of its sovereignty. In international recognition of the Armenian genocide, many in Turkey see their own losses unacknowledged and suspect ulterior motives for weakening Turkish statehood.

There are indications that Turkish society would be receptive to the opportunity to process the past as a shared experience. One survey among students and teachers conducted by Turkey’s Education and Science Workers’ Union, for example, found that more than 85 percent of respondents agreed the statement “the common culture, built by various communities including Turks, Greeks, Armenians, and Kurds who are living in Anatolia together for centuries, is our greatest fortune” was fully or partially true. This suggests the framing of the past as a shared “ours” may be beneficial to reconciliation efforts.

There is, of course, no guarantee of success for Armenian engagement efforts with Turkey. There are formidable obstacles to such a rapprochement a politics of confrontation can be in the interest of established elites. Yet taking the initiative may be valuable for its own sake as an assertion of Armenians’ moral autonomy and as a gesture that puts the petty triumphalism of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev after the recent Nagorno-Karabakh war in its disgraceful place.

Much can be learned from how other countries with troubled histories found their way to peace through a process of acknowledgement and reconciliation. Like Armenia’s relationship to Turkey, many Irish can also draw on a long list of legitimate grievances against their biggest neighbor, lamenting British policies that provoked catastrophic loss and displacement. But some of these grievances had to be reframed to make the 1998 Good Friday Agreement possible, which ended the Northern Ireland conflict and became possible only when both sides focused on what would make them thrive.

Moreover, sustainable peace cannot be built through diplomatic engagement alone and requires wider societal engagement and support. The Colombian public’s rejection of the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) demonstrates that peace cannot be achieved if the public is not prepared for it and does not have a say in its shape. The peace agreement’s justice provisions, which include partial amnesty and a limited tribunal process for atrocities committed by FARC members, have been rejected by a large part of Colombian society. This suggests more public consultation and preparation remain essential to achieving sustainable peace.

Closer to home, the potential for Armenian and Azerbaijani leadership to progress toward a lasting settlement on Nagorno-Karabakh is restricted by strong sentiments on both sides. A previous attempt by then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to promote normalization between Armenia and Turkey, based on the 2009 Zurich Protocols, foundered in part because it did not enjoy sufficient popular support in both countries.

A particular challenge will be convincing many Armenians, especially in the diaspora, of the merits of reframing history in the name of rapprochement. After all, generational trauma resulting from genocides runs real and deep and must be acknowledged. Yet in discussing the emotion-laden past, many Armenians also crave a change of tone. The friend-foe matrix some Armenians regard Turks with contributes to a debilitating viciousness in parts of Armenian political discourse. Armenians who were skeptical of the idea that genocide recognition would translate into improving their day-to-day lives have been subjected to nasty abuse bordering on death threats. More moderate voices will need to speak up to reclaim a public space that often has been dominated by a strident fringe.

Demands to “face one’s history” cannot run just in one direction.

There are some encouraging signs of progress. Armenian and Azerbaijani analysts meet regularly on YouTube, Facebook, and Clubhouse. Some have published joint op-eds, arguing for more U.S. involvement in the South Caucasus. A prominent Armenian opposition politician in Turkey regularly commemorates the day hundreds of Azerbaijani civilians in Khojaly, Azerbaijan, were massacred during the Karabakh war in 1992. For some years, even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged the pain Armenians have suffered.

The United States plays a pivotal role in this necessary process of rapprochement. The case of Northern Ireland illustrates how the United States can help broker a peace in a seemingly intractable context with cross-cutting diaspora issues if it is able to mobilize sufficient attention and patience. As George Mitchell, the chair of the peace talks in Northern Ireland, summarized, “what is necessary in all of these conflict societies is to create a sense of hope, a vision, a possibility of the future.” A positive vision for Armenia-Turkey relations is needed too, unlikely as this may seem now.

Today, Washington could fund research into Turkish and Armenian sentiment on the Armenian genocide to explore the contours of belief in more depth to transcend the ongoing standoff. The United States could also help facilitate a collective process of remembrance that provides an opportunity for thoughtful exploration of individual experiences and actions on all sides, perhaps drawing on how Ireland continues to negotiate its own difficult past through what it calls “ethical remembrance.”

If Western commentators want to set an example for how Turkey might reckon with its darkest chapters, they could themselves acknowledge the historic mistakes in the Treaty of Sèvres. In addition to the signatory Allied Powers, the United States bears considerable responsibility for this ill-conceived treaty due do its withdrawal from the post-World War I peace process. Demands to “face one’s history” cannot run just in one direction.

Essential to peace is often a redescription that various sides can live with. Indeed, to attentive readers, there may have been a coded message in the White House statement acknowledging the Armenian genocide. U.S. President Joe Biden’s remarks urged the world to “turn our eyes to the future—toward the world that we wish to build for our children.” Traditionally, Turkey has celebrated April 23, the day immediately preceding Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, as National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. It is at least possible that some in Turkey will read Biden’s words as a suggestion the United States is now keen to usher in a new stage in relations between Armenia and Turkey. A reframed narrative would be a good place to start.

Hans Gutbrod is an associate professor at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia. He holds a doctorate in international relations from the London School of Economics and has worked in the Caucasus region since 1999. Twitter: @HansGutbrod

David Wood is a professor of practice at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations. He has more than 15 years of experience of peace promotion in the Caucasus and the Middle East and North Africa, including founding the organization Peaceful Change Initiative.

For Turkey’s Armenians, Biden’s Genocide Declaration Makes Little Difference

A century after the mass killings, Armenians in Turkey are still outcasts.

Armenia - History

Armenians are one of the ancient nations in Western Asia, formed within the territory of Armenian Highland encompassing a large area between Anti-Taurus and eastern slopes of Artsakh Mountain (Karabagh Highland), i.e. between the mountains of Armenian Taurus and East-Pontic, Trialet and Mosk. Armenian plateau occupies approximately 360 thousands sq km. In the center of the Upland stands Biblical Mount Ararat (Masis, 5165). Mount Aragats (4090 meters) is the highest peak of the current Armenian Republic. The climate here is severely continental &ndash with harsh winters and stuffy summers. The flora and fauna of Armenian Highland are rich.

Armenian Highland was firstly inhabited as soon as at the Stone Age (Paleolithic era). Due to its rich mineral resources Armenia very soon became not only a large metallurgical center but also copper, bronze, gold and silver exporter. At the age of rapid development of bronze industry and iron adoption (at the turn of II-I millenniums BC) class relations and tribal unions were formed among the tribes of the Armenian tableland. These processes created preconditions for state emergence.

Hayasa-Azzi, Isuva, Alishe, Uruatri, Dayaeni, Diauekhi, the little centers of statehood emergence, which are known from Hittie, Assyrian and other sources were the first tribal unions living in the Armenian Plateau.

The process of formation of Armenian nation mostly dated to the II-I millenniums BC. This circumstance makes it almost impossible to clearly and thoroughly illustrate all the details of its origin. There is no doubt that the process took place in the Armenian plateau through the gradual merger of different tribes into Armenian. Some researchers highlight the leading role of Hayasa tribal union in this process, most probably it served as the origin for the denomination of Armenian nation &ndash &ldquohay&rdquo

According to historians, the ancient Armenian united state was Ayrarat Kingdom of Haykyans. In the IX century BC Ayrarat kingdom suffered several defeats in the fight against strengthening Assyrians and became weaker. Another tribal union became mighty enough to gradually acquire political supremacy. The Assyrians called this new kingdom Urartu after the name of the Ayrarat Kingdom. However, in the inscriptions of local kings it was called Biaynali or Biayneli and Shureli, which corresponds to the now accepted name - Kingdom of Van.

In the XIII-IX centuries BC the Kingdom of Van significantly expanded its borders becoming one of the most powerful states in Western Asia under Menuas, Argistis and Sardur II. During this period economy, crafts, urban life and culture rapidly developed and well-known Urartean cuneiform was created.

However, new reinforcement of Assyria and its victorious wars against the Kingdom of Van, invasion of Cimmerian and Scythian tribes, formation of the Median kingdom led to the fall of the kingdom of Van at the beginning of the VI century BC (the last decades of the VII century BC are also possible).

According to recent studies, a Scythian leader Partatu or Paruir (according to Armenian sources) had been proclaimed as a king of Armenia by the end of the VII century BC. A number of principalities were formed on the ruins of the Kingdom of Van. The kingdom of Paruir (Scythian name Partatuna) was distinguished among them but it was not destined to exist for a long time.

The country was united into one kingdom only under Eruandid royal dynasty in the face of king Aramani, erroneously referred to as Aram by the father of Armenian historiography Moses Khorenatsi. Using the political vacuum created as a result of the struggle between Assyria from the one side and the Chaldeans of Babylonia and Median Kingdom from the other, the Armenian king extended the borders of his state.

Armenian Eruandid kings continued to rule in Armenia, sometimes combining the office of the Persian satraps or being under their domination.

After the defeat of the Achaemenid Empire by Alexander the Great at the battle of Gaugamela, Armenia regained its independence (the capital was Ervandashat). On one of the Greek inscriptions of that era that was found in Armavir is written: ''A beautiful country of Armenia!''.

After the decisive defeat of the Seleucid army at Magnesia (190 BC) Greater Armenia (Mets Hayk) and Tsopk regained their independence. The founder of the Artashesids dynasty Artaxias I (189-160 BC), as a result of several successful wars, expanded the boundaries of Greater Armenia, making it a strong state. Artsakh, Syunik and Utik constituted the integral parts of Artashes&rsquo kingdom. Thus, he succeeded in merging the borders of Greater Armenia (except Tsopk).

Under Tigranes the Great (Tigranes II - 95-55 BC) the kingdom of Greater Armenia became a powerful empire of Western Asia, reaching the zenith of its political power. Basically completing the unification of the Armenian lands, including Tsopk, Tigran II expanded the boundaries of Greater Armenia, as a result of victorious conquest wars, and relying on alliance with Kingdom of Pontus. He annexed Atropatene, Seleucid Syria, Kommagenu, Cilicia, Mesopotamia, etc.

In the first years of his reign Tigranes concluded military-political alliance with the king of Pontius Mithridates for supporting and backing each other, as well as for a joint struggle against Rome in the East. The supremacy of the Armenian king was recognized not only by Judah, Nabataea, Iberian and Caucasian Albanian kingdoms, but also by the Parthian state. Tigranes II became allies with the Arabic and other Central Asian tribes of the Persian Gulf.
Under Artashesids the Hellenic cultural influence increased in Armenia. Architecture, literature, poetry, historiography, and theater experienced an unprecedented progress.

Nevertheless, the expansion of Rome put an end to the power of Greater Armenia, reaching to its zenith. Discomfiting Mithridates, the closest ally of Tigranes, the Roman general Lucullus invaded Armenia in spring, 69 BC, but could not force Armenia to finally knee. According to the decision of the Roman Senate, Pompey substituted Lucullus in 66 BC and once again attacked Armenia, moving toward the capital Artashat. Tigranes was forced to offer peace to Pompey.

According to the Armenian-Roman Artashat treaty of 66 BC Armenian kingdom lost much of the conquered lands, but continued to remain a strong country in the region. Further Artavazdes II and Artaxias II attempted to restore its former power. Artavazdes was a statesman who got brilliant Hellenic education at the Armenian royal court. He staged performances, wrote speeches and dramas. Artavazdes&rsquo skillful policy of maneuvering between belligerent Rome and Parthia constituted a reliable guarantee of independence and national security. In 34 BC Artavazdes was captured by Roman general Antony, who invaded Armenia and taken to Egypt with his family, where a victory parade was organized with participation of Queen Cleopatra.

In the second half of the 1st century AD thanks to a successful battle of the Armenian-Parthian allied forces against Rome, Tiridates I took the throne of the kingdom of Greater Armenia. After the defeat of the Romans at the battle of Randi (62 AD), Trdat I went to Rome, was crowned by Emperor Nero and returned to Armenia (65-66 AD). Trdat used the money given by Nero in compensation for the destruction of Artashat by the Romans, to restore the capital and to build the Sun Temple of Garni. Arshakids&rsquo dynasty (a cadet branch of Parthian Arshakids) was established in Greater Armenia.

The enthronement of Tiridates I (66-88) gave start to the dominion of the cadet branch of Arshakids in Greater Armenia (Mets Hayk). In the 3rd and 4th centuries, as a result of socio-economic changes, the kingdom of Greater Armenia gradually turned into a feudal monarchy.

At the end of the 3rd century and at the beginning of the 4th century Christian communities had already formed in nearly the entire territory of the kingdom. According to tradition, the first preachers of Christianity in Armenia were St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew apostles. In 301, under Tiridates III (286-330) Armenia became the first country that proclaimed Christianity as a state religion. St. Gregory the Illuminator was consecrated the first patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Hard struggle against Roman and Sassanid Persia weakened Armenian kingdom, which was later divided between the two above mentioned states. Thus in 428, the Armenian kingdom was dissolved by the Persian court and turned into Мarzpanate (province).

Perfectly acknowledging the whole danger of the current situation for both the country and the people, under the patronage of the king Bahram Shapur and patriarch of Armenia Isaac Partev, Mesrop Mashtots invented Armenian alphabet in 405, which became a powerful weapon for preserving the Armenian national identity. Invention of the Armenian alphabet ushered in a new era in Armenian culture, science and literature. Translations and independent literary heritage created in Mesrop&rsquos alphabet was so rich and complete that the 5th century became the "Golden Age" in the history of Armenian culture.

In 450-451 for the sake of the fatherland and the Christian faith under the leadership of Vardan Mamikonyan a revolt was raised against the Persian political, economic and religious pressures. The result was the decisive battle of Avarayr.

Due to the subsequent rebellion (481-484), led by Vahan Mamikonyan, Nvarsak agreement was signed. Armenian provinces Utik and Artsakh formed a kingdom (before the first half of the VI century) established by Vachagan the Pious who came from Haykazun-Sisakyan-Aranshahiks Dynasty. Thereby, Armenian kingdom was restored in the Eastern-Armenian territories. The domination of Vachagan the Pious was also spread on a part of the left bank of the Kura River. According to Armenian historian Moses Kalankatuatsi (7th century), Vachagan the Pious was a great Armenian statesman and devoted follower of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Inspired by the idea of strengthening the Armenian kingdom, he created "Canonical Constitution," accepted by the bishops, priests, nobles and elders in Artsakh statutory assembly as a written constitution of the Armenian kingdom.

In the middle of the 7th century Arab forces invaded Armenia. At the beginning of the 8th century Armenia was already completely dominated by Arabs. The struggle of the people against Arab domination outgrew into the national-liberation war for the restoration of independence (uprisings of 703, 744-775, 850-855) and completed with the restoration of the Armenian kingdom, led by Ashot I Bagratid.

People&rsquos struggle against the Arab invaders is reflected in the epic poem "David of Sassoon," which, with its catchy heroic characters, is one of the most valuable written monuments of Armenian people of Middle Ages.

With the restoration of independence, Armenia entered into a period of developed feudalism. Extensive development was recorded in the spheres of urban life and city building, crafts and trade, cross-stone (khachkar) art, currency circulation, etc. Local economic and trade centers emerged, which led to the formation of vassal kingdoms that admitted the hegemony of kings of Bagratids (Parisos, Vaspurakan, Kars, Tashir-Dzoraget and Syunik). Another branch of Bagratids settled in neighboring Georgia, which, coming into power in the 9th century, established a royal dynasty of Georgian Bagratids. Since the end of the 10th century the process of economic and political reunification of the Armenian small feudal state- entities into a single monarchy under the auspices of Ani Bagratids launched. Ani - the capital of Bagratids kingdom - became a huge economic, public and cultural center.

In the middle of the 11th century, as a result of attacks of the Byzantine Empire, the Kingom of Bagratids fell. Finally, after the defeat of the Byzantines by the Seljuk Turks in the decisive battle of Manazkert in 1071, Armenia was conquered by Seljuk Turks.

Starting from the end of the 11th century the domination of Seljuks started to decline. The remnants of the Armenian nobility, that survived attacks of invaders, led Armenian liberation movement. Being united and supported by Georgia, within a decade northeastern Armenia was liberated from Seljuks&rsquo Domination. Its territory involved a number of historic regions, including the whole territory of Ayrarat, Artsakh аnd Syunik as well as part of Utik and Gugark.

The liberated lands in the Georgian kingdom were ruled by the Zakarid dynasty and their vassals, simultaneously enjoying wide autonomy. Zakareh and Ivaneh brothers and other Armenian princes had high positions in the Georgian court. Liberated Armenian lands recovered their economy very soon and played an important role in further development of Armenian culture, crafts and science.

Because of the deportation policy of the Byzantine Empire and devastating invasions of Seljuk Turks, lots of Armenians were forced to leave the country. Part of them settled in Cilicia, constituting the majority of its population by the end of the 11th century.

In the northeastern part of Cilicia, in the Mountainous Cilicia, Rubenids principality emerged in 1080, which later absorbed the whole Cilicia and a number of adjacent regions. In 1198 the Armenian Prince Levon II Rubenid received the imperial crown from the German Emperor and was solemnly crowned in the city of Tarsus. Armenian kingdom of Cilicia had close trade relations with Venice and Genovian republics, France, Spain, Germany and other countries. Levon II was collaborating with the Kaiser Frederick Barbarossa of Germany, who led the third Crucaders&rsquo campaign and King of England Richard the Lionheart. Lots of Knights Templar, Teutonic knights and Hospitallers served at Cilician kings of Armenian nationality and received extensive estates in various parts of the kingdom. Further several Armenian royal dynasties successively ruled in Cilicia.

Under the blows of the Ikonian Sultanate and Mamluk State of Egypt, in the absence of assistance from Christian Europe, Armenian state of Cilicia fell in 1375, however, many Armenian principalities continued their existence in impenetrable mountainous areas.
And only during the years of the Armenian Genocide in Zeytun autonomy of Ottoman Empire practically stopped to exist on the territory of Turkey.

In 30-40s of the 13th century Armenia, together with other Transcaucasia countries were conquered by Tatar and Mongols. In the middle of the 14th century Armenia and South Caucasus had become an apple of discord between the Hulamin Mongol State and Golden Horde. Further, at the end of the 14th and at the beginning of the 15th centuries those counties were devastated by a disruptive campaign of the Golden Horde Khan Totkhamish and Timur (Tamerlan). The country had hardly recovered from the shocking campaigns of Timur when it was conquered by nomadic Turkmen tribes Kara Goyunlu and Aq Qoyunlu successively.

Armenian feudal clans were largely destroyed in the 14-15th centuries. Their lands were seized by the Tatarian-Turkmen and Kurdish chieftains. The economy experienced a period of stagnation. The emigration of the 14-15th centuries caused the formation of Armenian colonies in the Crimea and Poland (on the territory of nowadays Russia and Ukraine) as well as in Transylvania, etc.

Armenia again became the political and spiritual center of the country. In 1441 the throne of Catholicos of all Armenians was moved to Echmiadzin from city Sis - the former capital of Cilicia, and is there so far. In the 15-17th centuries, as a result of devastating Ottoman-Persian wars Armenia was twice divided between the Ottoman Empire and the Safavids&rsquo Persia according to Amasia (1555) and Qasr-e Shirin (1639) treaties.

The forceful relocation of more than 300 thousand Armenians (from Ararat valley and southern parts of Armenia) to Persia by Shah Abbas at the beginning of the 17th had disastrous consequences for the Armenian people and historical Armenian lands.

Brutal political, social, national and religious oppressions led to a massive liberation movement of the Armenian people in that period.

In the 16-18th centuries Armenian socio-political figures explained the liberation of Armenia by the help of Western European countries such as the Republic of Venice, France and Germany, yet, gradually, Armenians started to gravitate toward the Russian state for that purpose. In the 16-18th centuries Israel Ori (1656-1711) was an outstanding actor in the national liberation movement. At the outset of his activity on behalf of the Armenian princes Israel Ori appealed to the European rulers asking assistance for the liberation of Armenia. Having received no real support, Ori moved to Russia in 1701 and presented the plan of the liberation of Armenia to Tsar Peter the Great.

In 1722-1730 a strong national-liberation movement broke out in Syunik (led by David Bek) and Artsakh (led by Catholicos of Gandzasar Esaiah Hasan-Jalalyan and Avan Yuzbashi).
In the second half of the 18th century Armenian colonies in India and Russia became the idoeological centers of the national liberation movement. The Armenian &ldquoCircle of Madras&rdquo (S. Shahamiryan, M. Baghramian, H. Emin, etc.) and other leaders of the Armenian colony in Russia (A. Lazarian, A. Argutyan and others) put forward two projects of creating the Armenian state under Russian patronage.

Despite the difficult conditions of that period Armenian culture and literature experienced a significant development. Particularly, Mkhitarian Congregation (of Armenian Catholics) was established in Venice (in 1717) and subsiquently in Vienna, which played an invaluable role in preserving the Armenian identity and Armenianology as well as in the development of cultural, literary and scientific potential of the Armenian people.

In 1512 the first Armenian printed book "Urbatagirk" was published in Venice and in 1792 the first periodical "Azdarar" was issued in Madras. In 1616 a book "The Psalm about David&rdquo was published in Lvov. In 1666 the first Armenian printed book - Holy Bible - consisting of 1464 pages, was brought out. In the middle of the 18th century "Dictionary of Haikazian (Armeian) Language" was published in Venice and at the end of the same century the famous "History of Armenia" by M. Chamchyan came out in many volumes.

If by the end of the 18th century separate plans to rebuild the Armenian state were considered, then at the beginning of the 19th century Russia started the conquering of South Caucasus, including Eastern Armenia.

In 1801 Eastern-Georgian kingdom was finally dissolved and united with the Russian Empire (Armenian-populated Lori district included). Later, by &ldquoTurkmenchay&rdquo agreement (1828) and &ldquoAdrianopole Treaty&rdquo (1829) the accession of the Transcaucasia was mostly completed. In 1828 &ldquoArmenian Marz&rdquo (Region) was temporarily formed on the territories of the former Yerevan and Nakhichevan Khanates (Iranian provinces) which later became the basis of the rebuilt Armenian statehood.

As a result of the unification with the Russian Empire the restoration of national identity and development of capitalist relations in Armenia were accelerated. Armenian bourgeoisie, gaining a leading role in the Transcaucasia, began its activities in such commercial, industrial and cultural centers as Baku, Tbilisi, Batumi, Shushi, etc. A copper-mining industry was developing in Alaverdi and Kapan brandy and wine, cotton and leather production was developing in the Ararat valley. In 1870 the agrarian reform was carried out which accelerated the involvement of Armenia in All-Russian market.

Since the beginning of the 19th century Armenia was divided between the Ottoman and Russian empires. The western and eastern parts of historical Armenia, populated with Armenians, are conditionally called Western Armenia and Eastern Armenia. The name Western Armenia was put into circulation as early as in the 4-5th centuries when the kingdom of Greater Armenia was divided between Persia and the Roman Empire. Western Armenia fell under the domination of Ottoman Turkey in 1555 under the Treaty of Amasia signed with Persia, and Eastern Armenia became Russia&rsquos territory in 1826-28, according to the treaty of Turkmenchay signed as a result of the Russo-Persian war.

From an ethnic perspective, the Ottoman Empire was a composite of over 60 nationalities and tribes with different cultural and religious affiliations as well as with different levels of social, economic, political, and cultural development. The strengthening of the economic situation of the Christian nations, the awakening of national consciousness and the increased pressure of the European Powers made the policy of universal islamization by Sultan's authorities almost impossible.

The emergence of the Armenia Question was initially conditioned by the loss of the Armenian statehood and later (in the middle of the 19th century) by the sharp deterioration of Armenians&rsquo situation in the Ottoman Empire and the awakening of the national identity. It became the integral part of so-called Eastern Question and played an important role in the international relations, in the Middle East policy of the major powers.

Actually, the Armenian issue was addressed upon in the 1878 Russo-Turkish Treaty. As a result of Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78, the regions of Kars and Batumi were united with Russia. According to the 16th article of San Stefano Agreement and the 61st article of Berlin treaty, the Ottoman Empire undertook to implement reforms in Western Armenia and ensure the security of Armenian population. However, those solutions were remained a dead letter that led to the new rebellions in Sasoun, Vaspourakan and other places. The Armenian Questions became the subject of discussions of European diplomacy.

For the first time in modern history Armenia and Armenians were mentioned in an important international pact. However, neither Russian, nor European diplomacy intended to fight for the autonomy of Western Armenia, as it happened in the case of the Balkan peoples. Russia merely undertook the role of the protector of the Western Armenians and the role of the supervisor of the implementation of the reforms in the conquered territories with large Armenian indigenous population.

Realizing the importance of Armenian Question for the foreign policies of major powers, the government of Abdul Hamid II decided to eliminate the issue and increased the persecution of the Armenian population of the Empire, via inciting Muslim fundamentalism, spreading anti-Armenian propaganda, permanent robberies and murders, lawless and willful acts of local authorities, forced islamization of Armenians and stricter censorship, as well as via irregular Kurdish tribes cavalry. As a result of such a policy, in the late 80th - early 90th of the 19th century Armenian national liberation movement entered into a new phase. Armenian political parties emerged the liberation struggle, i.e. rebel movements strengthened in Western Armenia.

In 1895-1896 the Ottoman government organized the mass destruction of Armenians in Western Armenia, as a result more than 300 thousand Armenians were perished and tens of thousands were forcibly islamized.

The Armenian issue attracted the attention of European diplomacy also at the end of the 19th century and in 1912-1914. According to the Russian-Turkish agreement of January 1914 two provinces (Northern and Southern parts) were to be formed on the territory of Western Armenia which would have to be governed by two foreign (European) Governors.

Taking advantage of the situation created as a result of the First World War, the Turkish ruling circles of that time tried to implement their long-standing idea of creating a "Great Turan" by unification of Muslim nations in the Middle East, Caucasus, Russia, and Central Asia. Armenian people, living in Eastern and Western parts of their historic homeland, were hindrance on the way of achieving this goal. The war provided the Turkish government with a perfect opportunity for fulfilling their genocidal program and, at the same time, for justifying and concealing their horrible crimes under the concept of &ldquoAct of war&rdquo.

In February 1915 the War Minister of the &ldquoYoung Turks&rdquo government Enver Pasha ordered to exterminate the Armenian soldiers serving in the Turkish army. On April 24 and subsequent days in Kostandnupolis (Istanbul) some 800 representatives of the Armenian intellectuals such as writers, doctors, scholars, journalists and clerics, including Armenian members of the Turkish Parliament, were arrested and deported far in Anatolia. Some of them died on the way, the rest were executed immediately upon arrival at the place of exile.

On May 24 the governments of Great Britain, France and Russia issued a joint Statement. This Statement can be considered to be the first international document condemning the Armenian Genocide. It qualified the atrocities against Armenians as a new type of crime against "humanity and civilization," the personal responsibility for which lies with all members of Turkish Sublime Porte, as well as with local authorities.

From May to June the mass deportation and massacre of the Armenian population of Western Armenia (villayats of Van, Erzurum, Bitlis, Kharberd, Sebastia, and Diyarbakir), Cilicia, Western Anatolia and other localities began. Armenians, being deported from their permanent and historical places of residence, were grouped in caravans and sent to Mesopotamia and Syrian Desert, where special camps were set up for them. The Armenians were being killed both in their places of residence, and on the way to exile &ndash in deserts. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died as a result of starvation, diseases and epidemics. About one and half a million Armenians were slaughtered as a result of that monstrous program. Western Armenia was deprived of its native population.

In 1917 after the February Revolution Russian Provisional Government dissolved the Viceroyalty of Caucasus and established the Transcaucasian Special Committee. During that period of time steps were undertaken for the Armenian refugees to return back to Western Armenia. By the end of 1917 the number of refugees was about 390 thousand. In September 1917 the Armenian National Committee was formed in Tbilisi, where the representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Party of Dashnaktsutiun had priority.

In December the Yerznka Ceasefire was signed between the newly established Transcaucasian Committee and Ottoman Army. In its turn the Soviet Government announced a Decree on Turkish Armenia, recognizing the right of Armenians from Western Armenia to the Self Determination, including even the creation of an independent state. However, Turkish troops restarted military actions, disrupting the Reconciliation Regime. Despite heroic resistance, the Armenian irregular troops and volunteer detachments began retreating to the borders of Eastern Armenia.

According to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 3, 1918), under the pressure of Germany the Soviet Russia agreed to return to the borders of the former Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878. As a result of that retrograde not only Western Armenia, but the regions of Kars, Ardahan and Batumi became parts of Ottoman Empire as well.

As a consequence of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk the peace negotiations that had been conducting with Ottoman Empire in Trapizon since March 1918 by the authorities of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic (former Commissariat and then Sejm) were deadlocked and suspended. Invading Eastern Armenia, Turkish troops occupied the Province of Kars, cities of Kars and Alexandrapol (Gyumri) and moved towards Yerevan and Gharakilisa (nowadays Vanadzor). On their way Turks were demolishing Armenian towns and villages, slaughtering population. The situation was fatal: Eastern Armenia was under the threat of genocide then.

Day by day growing danger united Armenians and Armenian troops along with militias and led by General Moses Silikyan, Colonels Daniel Bek-Pirumov, Drastamat Kanayan and others made a decisive counterattack to the Turkish conquerors near Sardarapat that were moving forward Yerevan, then after - near Gharakilisa and Bash-Aparan.

During those days of Heroic Battles of May 1918, the discrepancies within the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic composed of three main nationalities of the South Caucasus, were deepening.

On March 26, 1918 the Transcaucasian Sejm (Parliament) was dissolved leading to the dissolution of Transcaucasian Republic. In those conditions, on May 28, 1918 the Armenian National Council declared itself as the only and supreme authority of Armenian provinces. The Republic of Armenia was established. After the defeat of Ottoman Empire in the World War I and according to the Peace Treaty of Mudros (October 30, 1918), Turkish Troops hastily quited the Territory of Eastern Armenia.

The power of the First Republic was applied to the following areas: major part of former Kars Region, the Province of Erevan, western parts of Province of Elizavetpol and southern parts of the Province of Tbilisi. Kharabakh was neither included in the territory of the Republic nor subjected to Musavat Azerbaijan, it was governed by the Congresses of the National Council of local Armenians.

In April, 1920 during a regular Congress the people of Nagorno-Karabakh made a decision on unification with the Republic of Armenia.

On August 10, 1920 the victorious states of the World War I, including Armenia, signed a peace agreement with defeated Turkey in the city of Sevres (France). It was Avetis Aharonyan, the head of the Armenian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Republic of Armenia. The section &ldquoArmenia&rdquo in the Treaty of Sevres included Articles 88-93.

By this treaty Sultan Turkish Government recognized Armenia as a free and independent state. Armenia and Turkey agreed to provide America with an opportunity to decide the demarcation line between the two states in Erzrum, Van and Bitlis provinces as well as to accept the offers concerning the access of Armenia to the Black Sea and the disarmament of all Ottoman territories, adjacent to above-mentioned boundary.

The nationalist government of Turkey, headed by Mustafa Kemal, who assumed the authority, did not accept the Treaty of Sevres. In 1920 the Soviet Government, seeking to direct the Kemalist movement in Turkey against the Entente, provided Turkey with palpable military and financial aid which was used against Greece in the West and against Armenia in the East. At the end of September, 1920 Turkish army started attacking. Conquering more and more lands, the Government of Ankara was aimed at depriving Armenians of an opportunity to recreate its own state. Turkish troops occupied the Region of Kars, Surmalu and Alexandrapol.

The Soviet government pursued a deliberate policy of Sovietization of the Transcaucasian republics, with an aim to restore the borders of the Russian Empire.

The 11th Red army occupied the main territories of Nagorno-Karabakh, Zangezur and Nakhichevan, after the Sovietization of Azerbaijan (April 1920). Further in August 1920 an agreement was signed between the representatives of Armenia and Russia. Via this agreement Soviet Russia forced Armenia to recognize those territories as disputed, provided that their further fate would be determined as a result of an expression of population will, i.e. the referendum.
On November 29, 1920 a small detachments of the Red Army and the Armenian Bolsheviks entered Ijevan (Northeastern Armenia) from the Azerbaijani side and declared Armenia a Soviet Republic. According to November 20 decision of the Revolutionary Committee of Azerbaijan headed by Narimanov, Nagorno-Karabakh, Nakhichevan and Zangezur were no longer considered to be disputed territories but integral parts of the Soviet Armenia.

On December 2 Armenian government agreed upon the Sovietization of Armenia and relinquished its power in favor of the Bolshevik Revolutionary Committee. On the same day in Alexandrapol, quite inexplicably, the representatives of the relinquished Armenian government signed a peace agreement with Turkey and considered the war ended, thus conceding almost half of their territory. Later the Soviet authorities never recognized the conditions of Alexandrapol treaty.

On March 16, 1921 a Treaty on Friendship and Fraternity between Russia and Turkey was signed in Moscow. According to its first article, the Soviet Russian government agreed not to recognize any international treaty related to Turkey, which was not ratified by the Great National Assembly. This provision was directed primarily against the Peace Treaty of Sevres, which Turkey at any cost tried to declare null and void.

Finally, the new border was recognized according to the Treaty of Kars (October 3, 1921) that was signed between Turkey and the Transcaucasian states and is in force up to date. As for the international conference of Lausanne held in 1922-23, it ended up with the signing of several documents, the most important of which is probably the Lausanne Peace Treaty, according to which the current Turkish borders were established, replacing the Treaty of Sevres.
According to the same Moscow Treaty, Nakhichevan became an autonomous territory under the patronage of Azerbaijan, and under the decision of the Caucasian Bureau of the RCWP from July 5, 1921 Nagorno-Karabakh was declared an autonomous region within the territory of Azerbaijan.

Soviet Armenia was not a sovereign state, but it played a very important role in the preservation of the Armenian statehood and development of the national identity. Despite the wide-spread repressions, particularly those of 1937 and 1948-49, Armenia made great progress in its economic, industrial, scientific and cultural life. Soviet Armenia became a leading industrial-agrarian country it was a land of universal literacy, highly developed education and science, culture, literature and art. The system of higher education was successfully developing in Yerevan State University, founded as early as in 1919, and in other specialized universities. In 1943 the Academy of Sciences was established. The Armenian people took an active participation in the Second World War. About 440,000 Armenian soldiers and officers fought in the ranks of Soviet Army. There was also a significant number of Diaspora Armenians fighting on allies&rsquo side and in the ranks of the Resistance of the European states. The Armenian National 89th Division took part in the battle for Berlin.

In subsequent years of World War II a large number of Diaspora Armenians returned to their homeland - Soviet Armenia. During the 1960s and 80's the national issues such as the Armenian Genocide, Diaspora, unification of Nagorno Karabakh with Armenia, Nakhichevan, etc. were repeatedly raised by intellectuals and the public, as well as by the republic's leadership. The first multi-thousand demonstrations in the Soviet reality were taking place in Yerevan.

In March of 1985, changes occurred within the Soviet political leadership. Following years of stagnation, younger and more progressive figures came to power. As a part of these political changes, Mikhail Gorbachev was elected General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and later became the first president of the USSR. Due to the USSR&rsquos vast need for radical changes, Gorbachev declared that reforms are required to overcome the crisis in the Soviet Union. As a result of the depression experienced by the Soviet society, the ideological bankruptcy of the Communist Party, the variety of unsolved issues and especially national problems forced different national groups within the Soviet Union to react.

Subsequently, the implementation of the Soviet Perestroika policy resulted in the establishment of the various national liberation movements of the time. Armenians of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) were the first to react they never accepted the annexation of their historical territories by Azerbaijan, and resented the anti-Armenian policy pursued by Azerbaijan during the Soviet era.

On the February 20th, 1988 the extraordinary session of the Council of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast /NKAO/ adopted a historic decision, based on the constitution of the USSR. The Council made an appeal to the Azerbaijani SSR, to the Armenian SSR and the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to withdraw the Oblast from Azerbaijan and transfer it to Armenia. Consequently, a new wave of mass demonstrations broke out in both Armenia and the Diaspora, as a sign of solidarity with the Armenians of Artsakh. Thousand of people participated in the various rallies organized in Yerevan, other parts of Armenia, as well as in Nagorno Karabkh. However, from the outset, the political leadership of the USSR adopted a negative stance toward the Karabakh Movement. They consider it to be provocative, extremist, a demand of a group of nationalists. Nonetheless, at the same time, prominent political activists and intellectuals of the various Soviet republics provided moral support to Armenia and Artsakh.

Subsequently, between the 27th and 29th of February 1988, in response to the aforementioned peaceful rallies and demonstrations which took place in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, the massacres and mass murders of the Armenian population were organized in the industrial city of Sumgait (not far from Azerbaijan&rsquos capital Baku). As a result of Azeri brutality a few dozens of Armenians perished and over 200 were severely injured. Subsequently, these developments forced the 18 thousand Armenian population of Sumgait to migrate from the city. According to various credible sources, it was the local Azeri authorities, who perpetrated the massacres of Sumgait. In the meantime, the central Soviet authority delayed the intervention and deployed troops in the city only after three days.

Moreover, when the intervention process began, the soviet troops faced many difficulties in restraining the Azeri killers and in rescuing the Armenian population out from the city. Even after the Sumgait massacres, the Central authority of the USSR continued to label the Nagorno-Karabakh problem as a social-economic issue rather than a political one.
Anyway, the Movement was expanding. Along with the rallies and demonstrations, mass strikes commenced in both Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. The Armenians demanded from the USSR government to justly solve the Karabakh issue, while providing a firm and conclusive political and legal response to the Sumgait atrocities. Thus, in May 1988, the &ldquoArmenian Committee of the Karabakh Movement&rdquo was established in Yerevan.

Subsequently, in response to the pleadings of the Council of NKAO, the General Council of the Armenian Soviet Social Republic agreed on the unification of the NKAO with Armenia on June 15th, 1988. Following this verdict, appeals were made to the Supreme Council of the USSR in regards to the USSR&rsquos support on this matter. The representatives of Armenia, NKAO and Azerbaijan were present at the session of the Supreme Council of the USSR which was held on the 18th of July. However, the latter rejected the proposals made by the Armenian Supreme Council and the Council of NKAO. From the outset of the Karabakh Movement, massacres and pillages were perpetrated in Azerbaijani regions resided by Armenians: Azerbaijani authorities were consistently committing ethnic cleansings.

Thus, from the outset of the Karabakh Movement, the Azerbaijani authorities approved the massacre, annihilation and ethnic cleansing of the Armenians who were root residents of the various regions of Azerbaijan. For example, by subjecting Armenians to pillage and brutality, the Azeris forcibly drove them out of Kirovabad, Shamkhor, Khanlar cities, Dashkesan, Mingechaur and other regions. The subsequent wave of deportations started in January, 1990, in capital, when within a week&rsquos time, hundreds of Armenians were killed in Baku, and over 200 thousand people were forced to leave the city, leaving behind indescribable huge wealth.

On December 1st 1989 the Supreme Council of Armenian SSR and the National Council of NKAO declared their reunification. As a result the persecution and violence against Armenians became more severe in the Azerbaijani SSR. An economic blockade was imposed against both the Republic of Armenia and NKAO the supply of natural gas, economic, industrial and other necessary goods were banned from being sent to Armenia. On December 7th, 1988, the severe situation in Armenia worsened as a result of the catastrophic earthquake, which struck the Northern and North-Eastern regions of the country. In the span of a few minutes entire villages and parts of cities were wiped out. More than 25 thousand of people perished and nearly 500 thousand remained without shelter.

On the 23rd of August, 1990 the first session of the newly elected Supreme Council of Armenia adopted a declaration regarding the &ldquoIndependence of Armenia&rdquo, thus commencing the process of independence. At this point the period of third republic of the Armenian history started. Moreover, the Declaration affirmed the fact that the laws of the republic took precedent over the laws of the USSR. Subsequently, the tricolored flag (red, blue and orange) of the first Armenian Republic was restored as the official flag of the Armenian state, while the blazon of the first republic was reinstated as the official blazon of the Republic of Armenia. The Declaration also prescribed respect of human rights, freedom of conscience, religion, political parties, assemblies and speech. Finally, the rights of the Armenian Apostolic church were restored. Availing themselves of the support of Moscow, Azerbaijani government continued the massacres and deportations in Armenian-populated regions.

On the other hand, while receiving support and backing from Moscow, the Azerbaijani soviet government continued the deportation of Armenians. In the first half of 1991, the Azerbaijani OMON (Special Militia and terror squads) received support from the Soviet army and launched a full-scale war against the Armenian population in the sub-regions of Shahoumian and Getashen, as well as in the NKAO. This offensive was based on the premeditated &ldquoKoltso&rdquo (&ldquoRing&rdquo) operation of forced deportation. During this operation, the Azerbaijanis destroyed various Armenian villages, which prompted the beginning of the Karabakh-Azerbaijan war of 1991. It is in this period of time when the Armenian population formed a united national front, consisted from underground Committees for Self-Defense and numerous headquarters for the self-defense forces across the various regions of the NKAO.

Proceeding from the provisions of 1990 August 23 Armenian Declaration of Independence, the National Assembly decided to hold a referendum on September 21, 1991, to leave the USSR and declaring independence. Based on the results of the referendum, the Supreme Council declared Armenia an independent state. The centuries-long dream of the Armenian nation to reinstate independence came true.

On October 16, nationwide presidential elections were held in Armenia, as a result of which, Levon Ter-Petrosyan was elected as the first president of the republic. On December 8, 1991, in Belovezhskaya Puscha (near Minsk) the leaders of the three Slavic states (Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus) signed an agreement on seizing the existence of the USSR. Simultaneously the sides declared the creation of a new entity of international cooperation, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS.) The Republic of Armenia was he first among the former Soviet republics to respond to the Minsk agreement welcoming the creation of CIS and expressed its willingness to join the organization. On December 21 of the same year 11 independent states (former soviet republics) signed an agreement in Alma-Ata about the creation of CIS. This marked the final collapse of the USSR and the independence of the Soviet Republics. Shortly after declaring independence the Republic of Armenia received universal international recognition.

Thus began the process of state-building of the Armenian Republic. One of the most important events of the state-political and public life of the Republic was the adoption of the RA Constitution that took place on July 5, 1995. It contributed to and greatly strengthened the legal bases of transition from a totalitarian system to a democratic state.

In the context of the war unleashed by Azerbaijan, the security of the population of Nagorno Karabakh became a priority alongside the issue of preserving the independence of the Armenian nation-state, whose guarantee could only be the creation of an efficient military. In the period of 1992-1993 with the unification of Yerkrapah Voluntary Detachments and army conscripts the Armenian National Army was created. On January 28, 1992, the Government adopted the historical decision on RA Ministry of Defense. The regular military units were formed generally based on the Soviet Army. Hundreds of Armenian officers, that have served in various branches of the Soviet Army, returned to Armenia. Special attention was paid given to the combat readiness and improvement.

Another important event contributing to the raising of public and political activism were the presidential elections that took place on September 22, 1996. These elections were held amid active political struggle. For the second time, Levon Ter-Petrosyan was elected as the president of the republic. The alienation between the authorities and public following the 1996 elections as well as the internal political crisis led to the resignation of the president in 1998. In March of the same year the main struggle during the snap presidential elections was between Robert Kocharyan, the Prime Minister of Armenia and Karen Demirchyan, the former First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia who had recently returned to the political arena. Robert Kocharyan was elected the President of the Republic.

The Unity alliance became the victor in the March 30, 1999 parliamentary elections, that took place amid quite active political struggle. Karen Demirchyan was elected the president of the National Assembly, while Vazgen Sargsyan was appointed as the Prime Minister. The domestic political situation worsened unprecedentedly with October 27, 1999 terrorist act, as a result of which were murdered the Prime Minister, the President of the National Assembly, NA Deputy Presidents and deputies. It was a heavy and unexpected blow to the (Armenian) statehood and democracy. Nevertheless, the political leadership was able to gradually stabilize the situation.

The fourth presidential elections of Armenia were held of February 19, 2003. Robert Kocharyan was reelected. The next parliamentary elections took place on May 25, 2003, as a result of which not one party received an absolute majority and form a government on its own and, thus, for the first time in the history of the Third Republic, three parties that had received the most votes, the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA,) the Orinats Yerkir (OEK,) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (AFD,) formed a political coalition and jointly formed a cabinet. Andranik Margaryan, the Chairman of the Board of the Republican Party of who had already been holding that office since 2000, was elected a Prime Minister.

On November 27, 2005, the new reformed version of the RA Constitution. On May 12, 2007 took place amid a climate of high political activity the parliamentary elections of the fourth convocation of the National Assembly, where, according to the system of proportional representation, the Republican Party of Armenia received the majority of votes, followed by the &ldquoProsperous Armenia&rdquo and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. As a result of the elections, with the assistance of the RA President, an agreement of creating a political coalition was signed between the parties. Those three parties formed the new government of the Republic of Armenia. Serzh Sargsyan was appointed a Prime Minister.

The fifth presidential elections of the Republic of Armenia took place on February 19, 2008. Serzh Sargsyan was elected as the President of the Republic of Armenia. The results of the presidential elections were challenged by the leader of the fundamental faction of the opposition, Levon Ter-Petrosyan. On February 20, the opposition initiated rallies that developed into clashes between the opposition and the law enforcement on March 1-2.

Initiated by the newly-elected president with the purpose of enstating reforms in the republic and ensuring an atmosphere of solidarity in the society the four parties with the most votes in the RA National Assembly signed a new agreement of political coalition, assuming responsibility for the future activities of the government. Tigran Sargsyan was appointed as the Prime Minister. Later, on April 22, 2009, the ARF quit the coalition.

The parliamentary elections of the fifth convocation of the National Assembly took place on May 6, 2012, resulting in RPA receiving 44% of the votes according to the system of proportional representation. RPA and OEK form a new coalition assuming the the responsibility of the political, economic and social development of the Republic of Armenia. Tigran Sargsyan was appointed the Prime Minister.

On February 18, 2013, Serzh Sargsyan is reelected as a result of presidential elections. Starting April 13, 2014, Hovik Abrahamyan leads the Government of the Republic of Armenia. In April of the Same year, OEK quits the coalition joining the opposition.

On December 6, 2015, a new reformed version of the Constitution is adopted through a referendum, according to which the Republic of Armenia underwent a transition to a parliamentary form of government.

Starting September 13, 2016, Karen Karapetryan assumed the office of the head of the RA government, holding that position until April 17, 2018.

According to the new Constitution, on March 2, 2018, the National Assembly elected Armen Sarkissian, the former ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to Great Britain as the President of the Republic of Armenia. Armen Sarkissian assumed the presidency on April 9, 2018.

According to the new Constitution, the next election of the RA Prime Minister were held by the National Assembly, as a result of which, on April 17, 2018, Serzh Sargsyan was elected the Prime Minister. However, as a result of an opposition movement that had started in April, that government survived only seven days, becoming the shortest government in the history of Armenia.

On May 8, 2018, the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia elected Nikol Pashinyan, the leader of &ldquoYelq&rdquo (Exit) parliamentary bloc, as the Prime Minister.

Special thanks to
Dr. Babken Harutyunyan, PhD in Historical Studies, Columnist-member of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia
Dr. Eduard Danielyan, PhD in Historical Studies, Head of the Department of Ancient History of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia
Marine Gevorgyan, professor of the History Department of Yerevan State University.

On September 2, 1991 the joint session of both Nagorno Karabakh regional and Shahoumian district councils of parliamentarians declared the independence of Nagorno- Karabakh Republic within the borders of former Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region and Shoumian. The declaration of independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) was adopted. Thus, the right determined by then enacted legislation- the law of the Soviet Union from April 3, 1990 on the order of withdrawal of Union republics from the USSR- was implemented. It provided national autonomies with a right to freely determine their legal status, in the case of withdrawal of Union republic from the USSR. On December 10, 1991 only a few days before the official collapse of the Soviet Union, a referendum took place in Nagorno Karabakh according to which the vast majority of native population voted in favor of full independence from Azerbaijan.

This was followed by parliamentary elections where the Parliament of the NKR was elected, which in its turn formed the first government. The government of independent NKR took over its commitments under the conditions of total blockage and subsequent military aggression of Azerbaijan. Making use of the 4th USSR Army ammunitions and weapons deployed on its territory, Azerbaijan unleashed a full-scale military action against Nagorno Karabakh. The warfare continued with changing success from the fall of 1991 to May 1994 when with the mediation of the Russian Federation, Kyrgyzystan and the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh Republic signed the cease-fire agreement in Bishkek which is in force up to date. As a result of war, unleashed by Azerbaijan the people of Nagorno Karabakh confirmed its natural right to live freely.

Starting from September 2007 Bako Sahakian is the elected president of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Constitution of NKR is in force since 2006.

In 1992 with the aim of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict the Minks Conference of the CSCE was established. Within the frameworks of the latter negotiation process is going on up to date by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship, which is to gain a final resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and determine its final status.

Contemporary scholarship suggests that the Armenians are descendants of various indigenous people who meld (10th through 7th century BC) with the Urarteans (Ararateans) while classical historians and geographers cite the tradition that the Armenians migrated into their homeland from Thrace and Phrygia (Herodotus, Strabo), or even Thessaly (Strabo). These views are not necessarily contradictory, since present-day Armenians are undoubtedly an amalgam of several peoples, autochthonous (Hayasa-Azzi, Nairi, Hurrians, etc.) and immigrant, who emerged as one linguistic family around 600 BC.

Armenian tradition has preserved several legends concerning the origin of the Armenian nation. The most important of these tells of Hayk (Hayg or Haig), the eponymous hero of the Armenians who called them-selves Hay (Hye) and their country Hayk’ or Hayastan. The historian of the 5th century, Movses Khorenatsi, also relates at some length the valiant deeds of Aram whose fame extended far beyond the limits of his country. Consequently, the neighboring nations called the people Armens or Armenians.
Archeology has extended the prehistory of Armenia to the Acheulian age (500,000 years ago), when hunting and gathering peoples crossed the lands in pursuit of migrating herds. The first period of prosperity was enjoyed by inhabitants of the Armenian upland in the third millennium B.C. These people were among the first to forge bronze, invent the wheel, and cultivate grapes. The first written records to mention the inhabitants of Armenia come from hieroglyphs of the Hittite Kingdom, inscribed from 1388 to 1347 B.C., in Asia Minor. The earliest inscription to be found directly upon Armenian lands, carved in 1114 B.C. by the Assyrians, describes a coalition of kings of the central Armenian region referring to them as “the people of Nairi.”

By the 9th century B.C., a confederation of local tribes flourished as the unified state of Urartu. It grew to become one of the strongest kingdoms in the Near East and constituted a formidable rival to Assyria for supremacy in the region. The Urartians produced and exported wares of ceramic, stone and metal, building fortresses, temples, palaces and other large public works. One of their irrigation canals is still used today in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital – a city which stands upon the ancient Urartian fortress of Erebuni. In the 6th century Urartu fell to the Medes, but not long after, the Persian conquest of the Medes, led by Cyrus the Great, displaced them. Persia ruled over Armenia from the 6th century until the 4th century B.C. Its culture and Zoroastrian religion greatly influenced the spiritual life of the Armenian people who absorbed features of Zoroastrianism into their polytheistic and animistic indigenous beliefs.

As part of the Persian Empire, Armenia was divided into provinces called satrapies, each with a local governing satrap (viceroy) supervised by a Persian. The Armenians paid heavy tribute to the Persians, who continually requisitioned silver, rugs, horses and military supplies. The governing satraps of Armenia’s royal Orontid family (Ervanduni Dynasty) governed the country for some 200 years, while Asia became acquainted with invading Greeks from the west. With the fall of the Persian Empire to Alexander the Great of Macedonia in 331 B.C., the Greeks appointed a new satrap, an Orontid named Mithranes, to govern Armenia. The Greek Empire, which stretched across Asia and Europe, was one in which cities rapidly grew, spreading Hellenistic architecture, religion and philosophies. Armenian culture absorbed Greek influences as well. As centers at the crossroads of trade routes connecting China, India and Central Asia with the Mediterranean, Armenian cities thrived on economic exchange. The Greeks also infused Armenia’s version of Zoroastrianism with facets of their religious beliefs. After Alexander’s sudden death in 323 B.C., the partitioning of his empire and warring among his generals led to the emergence of three Greek kingdoms. Despite pressure from the Seleucid monarchy, one of the Greek kingdoms, the Orontids, continued to retain control over the largest of three kingdoms into which Armenia itself had been divided: Greater Armenia, Lesser Armenia and Sophene.

Seleucid influence over Armenia finally dissolved when, in the second century B.C., a local general named Artaxias (Artashes) declared himself King of Greater Armenia and founded a new dynasty – Artaxiads Dynasty (Artashesian) – (The Artain 189 B.C. Artaxias expanded his territory by defining the borders of his land and unifying the Armenian people.

The “renaissance of Armenia” was accomplished during the reign of Tigran the Great (94-54 B.C.), who proclaimed himself “King of Kings.” Under Tigran II, Armenia grew to a great degree of military strength and political influence. According to the Greek biographer Plutarch, the Roman general Lucullos said of this king,

“In Armenia, Tigran is seated surrounded with that power which has wrested Asia from the Parthians, which carries Greek colonies into Media, subdues Syria and Palestine and cuts off the Seleucids.”

And Cicero, the Roman orator and politician, adds, ”

He made the Republic of Rome tremble before the powers of his arms.”

Armenia’s borders extended from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. Tigran’s victories were, however, destined to hasten his downfall, which occurred in 66 B.C. His son, King Artavazd II, governed Greater Armenia for 20 years until Anthony and Cleopatra had him brought to Egypt in chains. Artavazd refused to name Cleopatra as his queen and was executed.

By 64 A.D. the new Arsacids dynasty (Arshakuni Dynasty), a branch of the Parthian Arsacids, came to power, and the country as a whole soon became a buffer zone over which the Romans and Parthians fought for domination. In order that we may realize the real implications of the history of Armenia and grasp the soul of this people, we must turn our gaze upon the beginning of the 4th century, which was momentous in its consequences for the growth of the nation. King Tiridates III (Trdat), having been converted by Gregory the Illuminator, proclaimed Christianity as the religion of the state in 301 A.D. Thus, Armenia became the first nation to embrace Christianity officially. This was 12 years before the Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan which declared tolerance of Christians in the Roman Empire. Gregory the Illuminator, later canonized, was elected Catholicos of the new Armenian national Church, the first in a long line of such clergy to be elected supreme head of the Armenian Church.

The conversion to Christianity was inevitably to bring in its wake complications of a political nature and to arouse grave anxieties in neighboring Persia. The Sassanian Persians took advantage of Armenia’s inner weakness and launched a campaign to stamp out Christianity there and replace it with Mazdaism. Under this common threat, the princes, nobility and the people of Armenia rallied, and in 451 under the leadership of the Commander-in-Chief Vartan Mamikonian, the Armenians heroically faced the Persians at Avarair in defense of their faith and national heritage. Heavily outnumbered, they were defeated Vartan Mamikonian and many valiant men fell fighting. But guerrilla warfare continued in the mountainous regions. Vahan Mamikonian, a nephew of Vardan, continued the struggle. This time the Persians, realizing the futility of their policy, were obliged to come to terms with the Armenians. Freedom of religious worship was restored with the Treaty of Nvarsag.

In the 7th century, the mighty Arabs stormed into Armenia and conquered the country. Beginning in the 9th century, Armenia enjoyed a brilliant period of independence when the powerful Bagratids Dynasty (Bagratuni Dynasty) asserted political authority. Resumption of international trade brought prosperity and the revival of artistic and literary pursuits.

The capital of Ani grew to a population of about 100,000, more than any urban center in Europe. Religious life flourished and Ani became known as the “city of one thousand and one churches.” In the middle of the 11th century, most of Armenia had been annexed by Byzantium. The destruction of the Bagratid Kingdom was completed by raids of new invaders, the Seljuk Turks from Central Asia. With little resistance from weakened Byzantium, the Seljuk Turks spread into Asia Minor as well as the Armenian highlands.

The Seljuk Turks invasion compelled a large number of Armenians to move south, toward the Taurus Mountains close to the Mediterranean Sea, where in 1080 they founded, under the leadership of Ruben (Rubenian Dynasty), the Kingdom of Cilicia or Lesser Armenia. Close contacts with the Crusaders and with Europe led to absorbing Western European ideas, including its feudal class structure. Cilician Armenia became a country of barons, knights and serfs. The court at Sis adopted European clothes. Latin and French were used alongside Armenian. The Cilician period is regarded as the Golden Age of Armenian Illumination, noted for the lavishness of its decoration and the frequent influence of contemporary western manuscript painting. Their location on the Mediterranean coast soon involved Cilician Armenians in international trade between the interior of Western Asia and Europe. For nearly 300 years, the Cilician Kingdom of Armenia prospered, but in 1375 it fell to the Mamelukes of Egypt. The last monarch, King Levon VI, died at Calais, France in 1393, and his remains were laid to rest at St. Denis (near Paris) among the kings of France.

While in the 13th century the Armenians prospered in the Cilician Kingdom, those living in Greater Armenia witnessed the invasion of the Mongols. Later, in the 16th and 17th centuries, Armenia was divided between the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Iran. With the annexation of the Armenian plateau, the Armenians lost all vestiges of an independent political life. The Persian leader Shah Abbas I inaugurated a policy of moving populations of entire Armenian regions to his country to create a noman’s land in the path of the Ottoman advance, and to bring a skilled merchant and artisan class to his new capital, Isfahan. The Armenian community of New Julfa, a suburb of Isfahan, was held by Shah Abbas I in great esteem and became one of the economic bases of the Safavid state.

Persians ruled Eastern Armenia until 1828, when it was annexed by Russia. However, it was the Ottoman Turks who governed most of the Armenian land and population (Western Armenia). During the 19th century, Armenians under Turkish rule suffered from discrimination, heavy taxation and armed attacks.
As Christians, Armenians lacked legal recourse for injustices. They were taxed beyond their means, forbidden to bear arms in a country where murdering a non-Muslim often went unpunished, and were without the right to testify in court on their own behalf. During the late l9th century, the increasingly reactionary politics of the declining Ottoman Empire and the awakening of the Armenians culminated in a series of Turkish massacres throughout the Armenian provinces in 1894-96. Any illusion the Armenians had cherished to the effect that the acquisition of power in 1908 by the Young Turks might bring better days was soon dispelled. For in the spring of 1909, yet another orgy of bloodshed took place in Adana, where 30,000 Armenians lost their lives after a desperate resistance. World War I offered a good opportunity for Turks to “solve the issue.” In 1915, a secret military directive ordered the arrest and prompt execution of Armenian community leaders.

Armenian males serving in the Ottoman army were separated from the rest and slaughtered. The Istanbul government decided to deport the entire Armenian population. Armenians in towns and villages were marched into deserts of Syria, Mesopotamia and Arabia. During the “relocation” many were flogged to death, bayoneted, buried alive in pits, drowned in rivers, beheaded, raped or abducted into harems. Many simply expired from heat exhaustion and starvation. 1.5 million people perished in this first genocide of the 20th century. Another wave of massacres occurred in Baku (1918), Shushi (1920) and elsewhere.

The defeat of the Ottoman Turks in World War I and the disintegration of the Russian Empire gave the Armenians a chance to declare their independence. On May 28, 1918, the independent Republic of Armenia was established, after the Armenians forced the Turkish troops to withdraw in the battles of Sardarapat, Karakilisse and Bashabaran. Overwhelming difficulties confronted the infant republic, but amid these conditions the Armenians devoted all their energies to the pressing task of reconstructing their country. But due to pressure exerted simultaneously by the Turks and Communists, the republic collapsed in 1920. Finally, the Soviet Red Army moved into the territory (Eastern Armenia) and on November 29, 1920, declared it a Soviet republic. Armenia was made part of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic in 1922, and in 1936, it became one of the Soviet Union’s constituent republics.

The tumultuous changes occurring throughout the Soviet Union beginning in the 1980′s inevitably had repercussions in Armenia. In 1988, a movement of support began in Armenia for the constitutional struggle of Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh) Armenians to exercise their right to self-determination. (This predominantly Armenian populated autonomous region had been placed under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan by an arbitrary decision of Stalin in 1923.)
That same year, in 1988, Armenia was rocked by severe earthquakes that killed thousands, and supplies from both the Soviet Union and the West were blocked by the Azerbaijani Government fighting the Armenians in Nagorno Karabagh. Both of these issues have dominated Armenia’s political arena since the first democratic election held in Armenia during the Soviet era. In 1990, the Armenian National Movement won a majority of seats in the parliament and formed a government. On September 21, 1991, the Armenian people overwhelmingly voted in favor of independence in a national referendum, and an independent Armenia came into being.

The True Heart of an Old Armenian Town


When anyone or anything turns 100-years-old, it seems only right that there should be a party or celebration. So when Fresno’s “red brick church,” Holy “T” as so many of us call it, sent out invitations marking the hundredth anniversary of its sanctuary, Armenians everywhere took note.

RSVP-ing with delight, we inked the date on calendars and combed closets for our Sunday best (black tie optional) attire. Knowing right then and there blinding sequins and glitter would fill the room, I told my mother we’d pull out all the stops and that she should get out her mauve, lacey dress – the one she wore to my daughter’s wedding.

As for me, filling out the response card and sending in our reservation was simply a formality triggering the arrival of countless, childhood memories – each an appetizer to an evening I knew would bring the past into present.

What was it, I wondered, about the church? Was it the billowing incense, a scent so strong and sacred it often transported me to another world? Was it the hymns I listened to while secretly watching my grandmother drop to her knees and weep in sorrow? Her family had been sacrificed in the Genocide and although she never spoke a word of it to any of us, she carried the weight of her grief into every moment of her life.

We were all kids then, gathering on Sundays in the celebrated sanctuary, sitting obediently on metal folding chairs, memorizing ancient prayers whose words we could barely pronounce. It was in this space we acquired our faith, a second family – a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. It would take us years to understand, but now, as we parked the car and I helped my mother through cloud-colored chiffon draped doors, I knew full well how this church and its people had sustained me and our family through the years.

In the days leading up to the gala event, my mother began complaining of fatigue, a lack of energy and appetite, “feeling her age, damn it” she told me, a disappointed tone in her voice as if her own skin and bones were betraying her. To complicate matters, the weather change was playing havoc with one of her knees, the same one that used to dip and bend to the sound of a Middle Eastern oud and clarinet playing. While she bantered, I closed my eyes – seeing her on the dance floor at summer picnics, legs bending with ease, hands twirling in the air, her passion for life seeping from fingers and toes.

Fresno's Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church. (Photo: Richard Harrison / Wikimedia Commons)

Trying to console her, I told her my right knee was also giving me trouble and that both of us needed a Geritol fix. We went shopping instead. We would not miss this once-in-a-lifetime event. If the building could endure the wear and tear of a century, so could we, I told my mother, knowing that once I got her there, all aches and pains would subside.

As the evening approached, I could see the color in my mother’s cheeks returning to its normal hue. Even her Estée Lauder lipstick – a pinkish red color, seemed brighter than usual. She was wearing her history and heritage, bejeweled in her roots and culture. Earlier at home, she had asked me to remove the Lifeline necklace that had become her appendaged companion following one of her falls. Tonight, the Armenian cross would hang from her neck. I would later watch in amazement as she and other church elders, some needing wheelchairs and walkers, made their way through the crowd, swarmed by youthful parishioners eager to applaud their unfaltering love for the church.

Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church has been a spiritual and cultural hub for generations. Established in the heart of Old Armenian Town in downtown Fresno, it remains today a symbol of hard-working and passionate people who have made great artistic, intellectual and philanthropic contributions to the San Joaquin Valley and world. Robed priests, congressmen and other dignitaries gave speeches recounting with pride the Armenian community whose love buoyed and withstood everything from genocide to earthquakes. The magnificence of the evening would forever underscore its place in our community and hearts.

On a clear and beautiful November evening, the New Exhibit Hall was transformed into a grand walled city adorned of pure love and pride.

One generation melting into the arms of another, pausing to honor families – those who had survived and made their way to Ellis Island, eventually finding home here in the San Joaquin Valley.

Days later I would still note the sparkle in my mother’s eyes – one that outshined even the most sequined gowns that were part of the evening’s jubilant décor.

Armen Bacon is a writer and author of a new collection of essays, “My Name is Armen – A Life in Column Inches,” now available on Amazon and in bookstores. She is also co-author of “Griefland – an Intimate Portrait of Love, Loss and Unlikely Friendship” (Globe Pequot Press, 2012).


The original native Armenian name for the country was Հայք (Hayk’) however, it is currently rarely used. The contemporary name Հայաստան (Hayastan) became popular in the Middle Ages by addition of the Persian suffix -stan (place). [ citation needed ] . However the origins of the name Hayastan trace back to much earlier dates and were first attested in circa 5th century in the works of Agathangelos, [24] [25] Faustus of Byzantium, [26] [27] Ghazar Parpetsi, [28] Koryun, [29] and Sebeos. [30]

The name has traditionally been derived from Hayk ( Հայկ ), the legendary patriarch of the Armenians and a great-great-grandson of Noah, who, according to the 5th-century AD author Moses of Chorene (Movsis Khorenatsi), defeated the Babylonian king Bel in 2492 BC and established his nation in the Ararat region. [31] The further origin of the name is uncertain. It is also further postulated [32] [33] that the name Hay comes from one of the two confederated, Hittite vassal states – the Ḫayaša-Azzi (1600–1200 BC).

The exonym Armenia is attested in the Old Persian Behistun Inscription (515 BC) as Armina ( ). The Ancient Greek terms Ἀρμενία (Armenía) and Ἀρμένιοι (Arménioi, "Armenians") are first mentioned by Hecataeus of Miletus (c. 550 BC – c. 476 BC). [34] Xenophon, a Greek general serving in some of the Persian expeditions, describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality in around 401 BC. [35]

Some scholars have linked the name Armenia with the Early Bronze Age state of Armani (Armanum, Armi) or the Late Bronze Age state of Arme (Shupria). [36] These connections are inconclusive as it is not known what languages were spoken in these kingdoms. Additionally, while it is agreed that Arme was located to the immediate west of Lake Van (and therefore in the greater Armenia region), the location of the older site of Armani is a matter of debate. Some modern researchers have placed it in the same general area of Arme, near modern Samsat, [37] and have suggested it was populated, at least partially, by an early Indo-European-speaking people. [38] It has also been speculated that the land of Ermenen (located in or near Minni), mentioned by the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III in 1446 BC, could be a reference to Armenia.

According to the histories of both Moses of Chorene and Michael Chamchian, Armenia derives from the name of Aram, a lineal descendant of Hayk. [39] [40] The Table of Nations lists Aram as the son of Shem, to whom the Book of Jubilees attests,

"And for Aram there came forth the fourth portion, all the land of Mesopotamia between the Tigris and the Euphrates to the north of the Chaldees to the border of the mountains of Asshur and the land of 'Arara. [41] [42] "

Jubilees 8:21 also apportions the Mountains of Ararat to Shem, which Jubilees 9:5 expounds to be apportioned to Aram. [41] [42] The historian Flavius Josephus also states in his Antiquities of the Jews,

"Aram had the Aramites, which the Greeks called Syrians. Of the four sons of Aram, Uz founded Trachonitis and Damascus: this country lies between Palestine and Celesyria. Ul founded Armenia and Gather the Bactrians and Mesa the Mesaneans it is now called Charax Spasini." [43]


Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the mountains of Ararat. There is evidence of an early civilisation in Armenia in the Bronze Age and earlier, dating to about 4000 BC. Archaeological surveys in 2010 and 2011 at the Areni-1 cave complex have resulted in the discovery of the world's earliest known leather shoe, [44] skirt, [45] and wine-producing facility. [46]

According to the story of Hayk, the legendary founder of Armenia, around 2107 BC Hayk fought against Belus, the Babylonian God of War, at Çavuştepe along the Engil river to establish the very first Armenian state. Historically, this event coincides with the destruction of Akkad by the Gutian dynasty of Sumer in 2115 BC, [47] a time when Hayk may have left with the "more than 300 members of his household" as told in the legend, and also during the beginning of when a Mesopotamian Dark Age was occurring due to the fall of the Akkadian Empire in 2154 BC which may have acted as a backdrop for the events in the legend making him leave Mesopotamia. [48]

Several Bronze Age cultures and states flourished in the area of Greater Armenia, including the Trialeti-Vanadzor culture, Hayasa-Azzi, and Mitanni (located in southwestern historical Armenia), all of which are believed to have had Indo-European populations. [49] [50] [51] [52] [53] [54] The Nairi confederation and its successor, Urartu, successively established their sovereignty over the Armenian Highlands. Each of the aforementioned nations and confederacies participated in the ethnogenesis of the Armenians. [55] [56] [57] [58] A large cuneiform lapidary inscription found in Yerevan established that the modern capital of Armenia was founded in the summer of 782 BC by King Argishti I. Yerevan is the world's oldest city to have documented the exact date of its foundation.

During the late 6th century BC, the first geographical entity that was called Armenia by neighbouring populations was established under the Orontid Dynasty within the Achaemenid Empire, as part of the latters' territories. The kingdom became fully sovereign from the sphere of influence of the Seleucid Empire in 190 BC under King Artaxias I and begun the rule of the Artaxiad dynasty. Armenia reached its height between 95 and 66 BC under Tigranes the Great, becoming the most powerful kingdom of its time east of the Roman Republic.

In the next centuries, Armenia was in the Persian Empire's sphere of influence during the reign of Tiridates I, the founder of the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia, which itself was a branch of the Parthian Empire. Throughout its history, the kingdom of Armenia enjoyed both periods of independence and periods of autonomy subject to contemporary empires. Its strategic location between two continents has subjected it to invasions by many peoples, including Assyria (under Ashurbanipal, at around 669–627 BC, the boundaries of Assyria reached as far as Armenia and the Caucasus Mountains), [60] Medes, Achaemenid Empire, Greeks, Parthians, Romans, Sasanian Empire, Byzantine Empire, Arabs, Seljuk Empire, Mongols, Ottoman Empire, the successive Safavid, Afsharid, and Qajar dynasties of Iran, and the Russians.

Religion in ancient Armenia was historically related to a set of beliefs that, in Persia, led to the emergence of Zoroastrianism. It particularly focused on the worship of Mithra and also included a pantheon of gods such as Aramazd, Vahagn, Anahit, and Astghik. The country used the solar Armenian calendar, which consisted of 12 months.

Christianity spread into the country as early as AD 40. Tiridates III of Armenia (238–314) made Christianity the state religion in 301, [61] [62] partly, in defiance of the Sasanian Empire, it seems, [63] becoming the first officially Christian state, ten years before the Roman Empire granted Christianity an official toleration under Galerius, and 36 years before Constantine the Great was baptised. Prior to this, during the latter part of the Parthian period, Armenia was a predominantly Zoroastrian country. [63]

After the fall of the Kingdom of Armenia in 428, most of Armenia was incorporated as a marzpanate within the Sasanian Empire. Following the Battle of Avarayr in 451, Christian Armenians maintained their religion and Armenia gained autonomy.

Middle Ages

After the Sasanian period (428–636), Armenia emerged as Arminiya, an autonomous principality under the Umayyad Caliphate, reuniting Armenian lands previously taken by the Byzantine Empire as well. The principality was ruled by the Prince of Armenia, and recognised by the Caliph and the Byzantine Emperor. It was part of the administrative division/emirate Arminiya created by the Arabs, which also included parts of Georgia and Caucasian Albania, and had its centre in the Armenian city, Dvin. Arminiya lasted until 884, when it regained its independence from the weakened Abbasid Caliphate under Ashot I of Armenia. [67]

The reemergent Armenian kingdom was ruled by the Bagratuni dynasty and lasted until 1045. In time, several areas of the Bagratid Armenia separated as independent kingdoms and principalities such as the Kingdom of Vaspurakan ruled by the House of Artsruni in the south, Kingdom of Syunik in the east, or Kingdom of Artsakh on the territory of modern Nagorno-Karabakh, while still recognising the supremacy of the Bagratid kings.

In 1045, the Byzantine Empire conquered Bagratid Armenia. Soon, the other Armenian states fell under Byzantine control as well. The Byzantine rule was short lived, as in 1071 the Seljuk Empire defeated the Byzantines and conquered Armenia at the Battle of Manzikert, establishing the Seljuk Empire. [68] To escape death or servitude at the hands of those who had assassinated his relative, Gagik II of Armenia, King of Ani, an Armenian named Ruben I, Prince of Armenia, went with some of his countrymen into the gorges of the Taurus Mountains and then into Tarsus of Cilicia. The Byzantine governor of the palace gave them shelter where the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia was eventually established on 6 January 1198 under Leo I, King of Armenia, a descendant of Prince Ruben.

Cilicia was a strong ally of the European Crusaders, and saw itself as a bastion of Christendom in the East. Cilicia's significance in Armenian history and statehood is also attested by the transfer of the seat of the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the spiritual leader of the Armenian people, to the region.

The Seljuk Empire soon started to collapse. In the early 12th century, Armenian princes of the Zakarid family drove out the Seljuk Turks and established a semi-independent principality in northern and eastern Armenia known as Zakarid Armenia, which lasted under the patronage of the Georgian Kingdom. The Orbelian Dynasty shared control with the Zakarids in various parts of the country, especially in Syunik and Vayots Dzor, while the House of Hasan-Jalalyan controlled provinces of Artsakh and Utik as the Kingdom of Artsakh.

Early Modern era

During the 1230s, the Mongol Empire conquered Zakarid Armenia and then the remainder of Armenia. The Mongolian invasions were soon followed by those of other Central Asian tribes, such as the Kara Koyunlu, Timurid dynasty and Ağ Qoyunlu, which continued from the 13th century until the 15th century. After incessant invasions, each bringing destruction to the country, with time Armenia became weakened.

In the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire and the Safavid dynasty of Iran divided Armenia. From the early 16th century, both Western Armenia and Eastern Armenia fell to the Safavid Empire. [69] [70] Owing to the century long Turco-Iranian geopolitical rivalry that would last in Western Asia, significant parts of the region were frequently fought over between the two rivalling empires during the Ottoman–Persian Wars. From the mid 16th century with the Peace of Amasya, and decisively from the first half of the 17th century with the Treaty of Zuhab until the first half of the 19th century, [71] Eastern Armenia was ruled by the successive Safavid, Afsharid and Qajar empires, while Western Armenia remained under Ottoman rule.

From 1604, Abbas I of Iran implemented a "scorched earth" policy in the region to protect his north-western frontier against any invading Ottoman forces, a policy that involved a forced resettlement of masses of Armenians outside of their homelands. [72]

In the 1813 Treaty of Gulistan and the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay, following the Russo-Persian War (1804–13) and the Russo-Persian War (1826–28), respectively, the Qajar dynasty of Iran was forced to irrevocably cede Eastern Armenia, consisting of the Erivan and Karabakh Khanates, to Imperial Russia. [73] [74] This period is known as Russian Armenia.

While Western Armenia still remained under Ottoman rule, the Armenians were granted considerable autonomy within their own enclaves and lived in relative harmony with other groups in the empire (including the ruling Turks). However, as Christians under a strict Muslim social structure, Armenians faced pervasive discrimination. When they began pushing for more rights within the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Abdul Hamid II, in response, organised state-sponsored massacres against the Armenians between 1894 and 1896, resulting in an estimated death toll of 80,000 to 300,000 people. The Hamidian massacres, as they came to be known, gave Hamid international infamy as the "Red Sultan" or "Bloody Sultan". [75]

During the 1890s, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, commonly known as Dashnaktsutyun, became active within the Ottoman Empire with the aim of unifying the various small groups in the empire that were advocating for reform and defending Armenian villages from massacres that were widespread in some of the Armenian-populated areas of the empire. Dashnaktsutyun members also formed Armenian fedayi groups that defended Armenian civilians through armed resistance. The Dashnaks also worked for the wider goal of creating a "free, independent and unified" Armenia, although they sometimes set aside this goal in favour of a more realistic approach, such as advocating autonomy.

The Ottoman Empire began to collapse, and in 1908, the Young Turk Revolution overthrew the government of Sultan Hamid. In April 1909, the Adana massacre occurred in the Adana Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire resulting in the deaths of as many as 20,000–30,000 Armenians. The Armenians living in the empire hoped that the Committee of Union and Progress would change their second-class status. The Armenian reform package (1914) was presented as a solution by appointing an inspector general over Armenian issues. [76]

World War I and the Armenian genocide

The outbreak of World War I led to confrontation between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire in the Caucasus and Persian campaigns. The new government in Istanbul began to look on the Armenians with distrust and suspicion, because the Imperial Russian Army contained a contingent of Armenian volunteers. On 24 April 1915, Armenian intellectuals were arrested by Ottoman authorities and, with the Tehcir Law (29 May 1915), eventually a large proportion of Armenians living in Anatolia perished in what has become known as the Armenian genocide.

The genocide was implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. [77] [78] There was local Armenian resistance in the region, developed against the activities of the Ottoman Empire. The events of 1915 to 1917 are regarded by Armenians and the vast majority of Western historians to have been state-sponsored mass killings, or genocide. [79]

Turkish authorities deny the genocide took place to this day. The Armenian Genocide is acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides. [80] [81] According to the research conducted by Arnold J. Toynbee, an estimated 600,000 Armenians died during deportation from 1915 to 1916. This figure, however, accounts for solely the first year of the Genocide and does not take into account those who died or were killed after the report was compiled on 24 May 1916. [82] The International Association of Genocide Scholars places the death toll at "more than a million". [83] The total number of people killed has been most widely estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. [84]

Armenia and the Armenian diaspora have been campaigning for official recognition of the events as genocide for over 30 years. These events are traditionally commemorated yearly on 24 April, the Armenian Martyr Day, or the Day of the Armenian genocide. [ citation needed ]

First Republic of Armenia

Although the Russian Caucasus Army of Imperial forces commanded by Nikolai Yudenich and Armenians in volunteer units and Armenian militia led by Andranik Ozanian and Tovmas Nazarbekian succeeded in gaining most of Ottoman Armenia during World War I, their gains were lost with the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. [ citation needed ] At the time, Russian-controlled Eastern Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan attempted to bond together in the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. This federation, however, lasted from only February to May 1918, when all three parties decided to dissolve it. As a result, the Dashnaktsutyun government of Eastern Armenia declared its independence on 28 May as the First Republic of Armenia under the leadership of Aram Manukian.

The First Republic's short-lived independence was fraught with war, territorial disputes, and a mass influx of refugees from Ottoman Armenia, bringing with them disease and starvation. The Entente Powers sought to help the newly founded Armenian state through relief funds and other forms of support.

At the end of the war, the victorious powers sought to divide up the Ottoman Empire. Signed between the Allied and Associated Powers and Ottoman Empire at Sèvres on 10 August 1920, the Treaty of Sèvres promised to maintain the existence of the Armenian republic and to attach the former territories of Ottoman Armenia to it. Because the new borders of Armenia were to be drawn by United States President Woodrow Wilson, Ottoman Armenia was also referred to as "Wilsonian Armenia". In addition, just days prior, on 5 August 1920, Mihran Damadian of the Armenian National Union, the de facto Armenian administration in Cilicia, declared the independence of Cilicia as an Armenian autonomous republic under French protectorate. [86]

There was even consideration of making Armenia a mandate under the protection of the United States. The treaty, however, was rejected by the Turkish National Movement, and never came into effect. The movement used the treaty as the occasion to declare itself the rightful government of Turkey, replacing the monarchy based in Istanbul with a republic based in Ankara.

In 1920, Turkish nationalist forces invaded the fledgling Armenian republic from the east. Turkish forces under the command of Kazım Karabekir captured Armenian territories that Russia had annexed in the aftermath of the 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish War and occupied the old city of Alexandropol (present-day Gyumri). The violent conflict finally concluded with the Treaty of Alexandropol on 2 December 1920. The treaty forced Armenia to disarm most of its military forces, cede all former Ottoman territory granted to it by the Treaty of Sèvres, and to give up all the "Wilsonian Armenia" granted to it at the Sèvres treaty. Simultaneously, the Soviet Eleventh Army, under the command of Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze, invaded Armenia at Karavansarai (present-day Ijevan) on 29 November. By 4 December, Ordzhonikidze's forces entered Yerevan and the short-lived Armenian republic collapsed.

After the fall of the republic, the February Uprising soon took place in 1921, and led to the establishment of the Republic of Mountainous Armenia by Armenian forces under command of Garegin Nzhdeh on 26 April, which fought off both Soviet and Turkish intrusions in the Zangezur region of southern Armenia. After Soviet agreements to include the Syunik Province in Armenia's borders, the rebellion ended and the Red Army took control of the region on 13 July.

Armenian SSR

Armenia was annexed by the Red Army and along with Georgia and Azerbaijan, was incorporated into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as part of the Transcaucasian SFSR (TSFSR) on 4 March 1922. [87] [88] With this annexation, the Treaty of Alexandropol was superseded by the Turkish-Soviet Treaty of Kars. In the agreement, Turkey allowed the Soviet Union to assume control over Adjara with the port city of Batumi in return for sovereignty over the cities of Kars, Ardahan, and Iğdır, all of which were part of Russian Armenia. [87] [88]

The TSFSR existed from 1922 to 1936, when it was divided up into three separate entities (Armenian SSR, Azerbaijan SSR, and Georgian SSR). Armenians enjoyed a period of relative stability within USSR. They received medicine, food, and other provisions from Moscow, and communist rule proved to be a soothing balm in contrast to the turbulent final years of the Ottoman Empire. The situation was difficult for the church, which struggled with secular policies of USSR. After the death of Vladimir Lenin and events occurred during Russian Civil War, Joseph Stalin became the general secretary of the CPSU, the most powerful position in the USSR of the time. [89]

Armenia was not the scene of any battles in World War II. An estimated 500,000 Armenians (nearly a third of the population) served in the Red Army during the war, and 175,000 died. [90]

It is claimed that the freedom index in the region had seen an improvement after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 the and emergence of Nikita Khrushchev as the new general secretary of the CPSU. Soon, life in Armenia's SSR began to see rapid improvement. The church, which was limited during the secretaryship of Stalin, was revived when Catholicos Vazgen I assumed the duties of his office in 1955. In 1967, a memorial to the victims of the Armenian genocide was built at the Tsitsernakaberd hill above the Hrazdan gorge in Yerevan. This occurred after mass demonstrations took place on the tragic event's fiftieth anniversary in 1965.

During the Gorbachev era of the 1980s, with the reforms of Glasnost and Perestroika, Armenians began to demand better environmental care for their country, opposing the pollution that Soviet-built factories brought. Tensions also developed between Soviet Azerbaijan and its autonomous district of Nagorno-Karabakh, a majority-Armenian region. About 484,000 Armenians lived in Azerbaijan in 1970. [91] The Armenians of Karabakh demanded unification with Soviet Armenia. Peaceful protests in Armenia supporting the Karabakh Armenians were met with anti-Armenian pogroms in Azerbaijan, such as the one in Sumgait, which was followed by anti-Azerbaijani violence in Armenia. [92] Compounding Armenia's problems was a devastating earthquake in 1988 with a moment magnitude of 7.2. [93]

Gorbachev's inability to alleviate any of Armenia's problems created disillusionment among the Armenians and fed a growing hunger for independence. In May 1990, the New Armenian Army (NAA) was established, serving as a defence force separate from the Soviet Red Army. Clashes soon broke out between the NAA and Soviet Internal Security Forces (MVD) troops based in Yerevan when Armenians decided to commemorate the establishment of the 1918 First Republic of Armenia. The violence resulted in the deaths of five Armenians killed in a shootout with the MVD at the railway station. Witnesses there claimed that the MVD used excessive force and that they had instigated the fighting.

Further firefights between Armenian militiamen and Soviet troops occurred in Sovetashen, near the capital and resulted in the deaths of over 26 people, mostly Armenians. The pogrom of Armenians in Baku in January 1990 forced almost all of the 200,000 Armenians in the Azerbaijani capital Baku to flee to Armenia. [94] On 23 August 1990, Armenia declared its sovereignty on its territory. On 17 March 1991, Armenia, along with the Baltic states, Georgia and Moldova, boycotted a nationwide referendum in which 78% of all voters voted for the retention of the Soviet Union in a reformed form. [95]

Restoration of independence

On 21 September 1991, Armenia officially declared its statehood after the failed August coup in Moscow, RSFSR. Levon Ter-Petrosyan was popularly elected the first President of the newly independent Republic of Armenia on 16 October 1991. He had risen to prominence by leading the Karabakh movement for the unification of the Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh. [96] On 26 December 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist and Armenia's independence was recognised.

Ter-Petrosyan led Armenia alongside Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan through the First Nagorno-Karabakh War with neighbouring Azerbaijan. The initial post-Soviet years were marred by economic difficulties, which had their roots early in the Karabakh conflict when the Azerbaijani Popular Front managed to pressure the Azerbaijan SSR to instigate a railway and air blockade against Armenia. This move effectively crippled Armenia's economy as 85% of its cargo and goods arrived through rail traffic. [96] In 1993, Turkey joined the blockade against Armenia in support of Azerbaijan. [97]

The Karabakh war ended after a Russian-brokered cease-fire was put in place in 1994. The war was a success for the Karabakh Armenian forces who managed to capture 16% of Azerbaijan's internationally recognised territory including Nagorno-Karabakh itself. [98] The Armenian backed forces remained in control of practically all of that territory until 2020. The economies of both Armenia and Azerbaijan have been hurt in the absence of a complete resolution and Armenia's borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan remain closed. By the time both Azerbaijan and Armenia had finally agreed to a ceasefire in 1994, an estimated 30,000 people had been killed and over a million had been displaced. [99] Several thousand were killed in the later 2020 Karabakh war.

Modern-day Armenia

In the 21st century Armenia faces many hardships. It has made a full switch to a market economy. One study ranks it the 41st most "economically free" nation in the world, as of 2014 [update] . [100] Its relations with Europe, the Arab League, and the Commonwealth of Independent States have allowed Armenia to increase trade. [101] [102] Gas, oil, and other supplies come through two vital routes: Iran and Georgia. As of 2016 [update] , Armenia maintained cordial relations with both countries. [103] [ needs update ]

The 2018 Armenian Revolution was a series of anti-government protests in Armenia from April to May 2018 staged by various political and civil groups led by a member of the Armenian parliament — Nikol Pashinyan (head of the Civil Contract party). Protests and marches took place initially in response to Serzh Sargsyan's third consecutive term as President of Armenia and later against the Republican Party controlled government in general. Pashinyan declared it [ clarification needed ] a "velvet revolution." [104]

In March 2018, Armenian parliament elected Armen Sarksyan as the new President of Armenia. The controversial constitutional reform to reduce presidential power was implemented, while the authority of the prime minister was strengthened. [105] In May 2018, parliament elected opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as the new prime minister. His predecessor Serzh Sargsyan resigned two weeks earlier following widespread anti-government demonstrations. [106]

On 27 September 2020, a full-scale war erupted due to the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. [107] Both the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan reported military and civilian casualties. [108] The Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement to end the six-week war between Armenia and Azerbaijan was seen by many as Armenia's defeat and capitulation. [109]

Armenia is a landlocked country in the geopolitical Transcaucasus (South Caucasus) region, that is located in the Southern Caucasus Mountains and their lowlands between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, and northeast of the Armenian Highlands. Located in Western Asia, [110] [15] on the Armenian Highlands, it is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the Lachin corridor which is a part of Lachin District that is under the control of a Russian peacekeeping force and Azerbaijan proper to the east, and Iran and Azerbaijan's exclave of Nakhchivan to the south. [17] Armenia lies between latitudes 38° and 42° N, and meridians 43° and 47° E. It contains two terrestrial ecoregions: Caucasus mixed forests and Eastern Anatolian montane steppe. [111]


Armenia has a territorial area of 29,743 square kilometres (11,484 sq mi). The terrain is mostly mountainous, with fast flowing rivers, and few forests. The land rises to 4,090 metres (13,419 feet) above sea level at Mount Aragats, and no point is below 390 metres (1,280 ft) above sea level. [112] Average elevation of the country area is 10th highest in the world and it has 85.9% mountain area, more than Switzerland or Nepal. [113]

Mount Ararat, which was historically part of Armenia, is the highest mountain in the region at 5,137 meters (16,854 feet). Now located in Turkey, but clearly visible from Armenia, it is regarded by the Armenians as a symbol of their land. Because of this, the mountain is present on the Armenian national emblem today. [114] [115] [116]


The climate in Armenia is markedly highland continental. Summers are hot, dry and sunny, lasting from June to mid-September. The temperature fluctuates between 22 and 36 °C (72 and 97 °F). However, the low humidity level mitigates the effect of high temperatures. Evening breezes blowing down the mountains provide a welcome refreshing and cooling effect. Springs are short, while autumns are long. Autumns are known for their vibrant and colourful foliage.

Winters are quite cold with plenty of snow, with temperatures ranging between −10 and −5 °C (14 and 23 °F). Winter sports enthusiasts enjoy skiing down the hills of Tsakhkadzor, located thirty minutes outside Yerevan. Lake Sevan, nestled up in the Armenian highlands, is the second largest lake in the world relative to its altitude, at 1,900 metres (6,234 ft) above sea level.


Armenia ranked 63rd out of 180 countries on Environmental Performance Index (EPI) in 2018. Its rank on subindex Environmental Health (which is weighted at 40% in EPI) is 109, while Armenia's rank on subindex of Ecosystem Vitality (weighted at 60% in EPI) is 27th best in the world. [118] This suggests that main environmental issues in Armenia are with population health, while environment vitality is of lesser concern. Out of sub-subindices contributing to Environmental Health subindex ranking on Air Quality to which population is exposed is particularly unsatisfying.

Waste management in Armenia is underdeveloped, as no waste sorting or recycling takes place at Armenia's 60 landfills. A waste processing plant is scheduled for construction near Hrazdan city, which will allow for closure of 10 waste dumps. [119]

Despite the availability of abundant renewable energy sources in Armenia (especially hydroelectric and wind power) and calls from EU officials to shut down the nuclear power plant at Metsamor, [120] the Armenian Government is exploring the possibilities of installing new small modular nuclear reactors. In 2018 existing nuclear plant is scheduled for modernization to enhance its safety and increase power production by about 10%. [121] [122]

Armenia is a representative parliamentary democratic republic. The Armenian constitution adhered to the model of a semi-presidential republic until April 2018.

According to the current Constitution of Armenia, the President is the head of state holding largely representational functions, while the Prime Minister is the head of government and exercises executive power.

Fragile states index since its first report in 2006 until most recent in 2019 consistently ranked Armenia better than all its neighboring countries (with one exception in 2011). [123]

Armenia has universal suffrage above the age of eighteen.

Foreign relations

Armenia became a member of the United Nations on 2 March 1992, and is a signatory to a number of its organizations and other international agreements. It is also a member of international organisations such as the Council of Europe, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the World Customs Organization, the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and La Francophonie. It is a member of the CSTO military alliance, and also participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace program and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 2004 its forces joined KFOR, a NATO-led international force in Kosovo. Armenia is also an observer member of the Arab League, [124] the Organization of American States, the Pacific Alliance, the Non-Aligned Movement, and a dialogue partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. As a result of its historical ties to France, Armenia was selected to host the biennial Francophonie summit in 2018. [125]

Armenia has a difficult relation with neighbouring countries Azerbaijan and Turkey. Tensions were running high between Armenians and Azerbaijanis during the final years of the Soviet Union. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict dominated the region's politics throughout the 1990s. [126] To this day, Armenia's borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan are under severe blockade. In addition, a permanent solution for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has not been reached despite the mediation provided by organizations such as the OSCE.

Turkey also has a long history of poor relations with Armenia over its refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, even though it was one of the first countries to recognize the Republic of Armenia (the 3rd republic) after its independence from the USSR in 1991. Despite this, for most of the 20th century and early 21st century, relations remain tense and there are no formal diplomatic relations between the two countries due to Turkey's refusal to establish them for numerous reasons. During the first Nagorno-Karabakh War, and citing it as the reason, Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993. It has not lifted its blockade despite pressure from the powerful Turkish business lobby interested in Armenian markets. [126]

On 10 October 2009, Armenia and Turkey signed protocols on the normalisation of relations, which set a timetable for restoring diplomatic ties and reopening their joint border. [127] The ratification of those had to be made in the national parliaments. In Armenia, before sending the protocols to the parliament, it was sent to the Constitutional Court to have their constitutionality to be approved. The Constitutional Court made references to the preamble of the protocols underlying three main issues. [128] One of them stated that the implementation of the protocols did not imply Armenia's official recognition of the existing Turkish-Armenian border established by the Treaty of Kars. By doing so, the Constitutional Court rejected one of the main premises of the protocols, i.e. “the mutual recognition of the existing border between the two countries as defined by relevant treaties of international law". [128] [129] This was for the Turkish Government the reason to back down from the Protocols. [130] The Armenian President had made multiple public announcements, both in Armenia and abroad, that, as the leader of the political majority of Armenia, he assured the parliamentary ratification of the protocols if Turkey also ratified them. Despite this, the process stopped, as Turkey continuously added more preconditions to its ratification and also "delayed it beyond any reasonable time-period". [ citation needed ]

Due to its position between two unfriendly neighbours, Armenia has close security ties with Russia. At the request of the Armenian government, Russia maintains a military base in the city of Gyumri located in Northwestern Armenia [131] as a deterrent against Turkey. [ citation needed ] Despite this, Armenia has also been looking toward Euro-Atlantic structures in recent years. It maintains good relations with the United States especially through its Armenian diaspora. According to the US Census Bureau, there are 427,822 Armenians living in the country. [132]

Because of the illicit border blockades by Azerbaijan and Turkey, Armenia continues to maintain solid relations with its southern neighbour Iran especially in the economic sector. Economic projects are being developed between the two nations, including a gas pipeline going from Iran to Armenia.

Armenia is a member of the Council of Europe and maintains friendly relations with the European Union especially with its member states such as France and Greece. In January 2002, the European Parliament noted that Armenia may enter the EU in the future. [133] A 2005 survey reported that 64% of Armenia's population would be in favour of joining the EU. [134] Several Armenian officials have also expressed the desire for their country to eventually become an EU member state, [135] some [ who? ] predicting that it will make an official bid for membership in a few years. [ citation needed ]

A former republic of the Soviet Union, Armenia is an emerging democracy and as of 2011 [update] was negotiating with the European Union to become an associate partner. Legally speaking, it has the right to be considered as a prospective EU member provided it meets necessary standards and criteria, although officially such a plan does not exist in Brussels. [136] [137] [138] [139] The Government of Armenia, however, has joined the Eurasian Customs Union [140] and the Eurasian Economic Union. [141] [142]

Armenia is included in the European Union's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and participates in both the Eastern Partnership and the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer. The Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed on 24 November 2017. The agreement further develops cooperation in economic, trade and political areas, aims to improve investment climate, and is designed to bring Armenian law gradually closer to the EU acquis. [143] [144] [145]


The Armenian Army, Air Force, Air Defence, and Border Guard comprise the four branches of the Armed Forces of Armenia. The Armenian military was formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and with the establishment of the Ministry of Defence in 1992. The Commander-in-Chief of the military is the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan. The Ministry of Defence is in charge of political leadership, headed by Davit Tonoyan, while military command remains in the hands of the general staff, headed by the Chief of Staff, who is Lieutenant-General Onik Gasparyan.

Active forces now number about 81,000 soldiers, with an additional reserve of 32,000 troops. Armenian border guards are in charge of patrolling the country's borders with Georgia and Azerbaijan, while Russian troops continue to monitor its borders with Iran and Turkey. In the case of an attack, Armenia is able to mobilize every able-bodied man between the age of 15 and 59, with military preparedness. [ citation needed ]

The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of military equipment, was ratified by the Armenian parliament in July 1992. 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 (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapons state in July 1993. Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). Armenia also has an Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO and it participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace (PiP) program and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC).

Human rights and freedom

Human rights in Armenia tend to be better than those in most former Soviet republics and have drawn closer to acceptable standards, especially economically. [ citation needed ] Nonetheless, there are still several considerable problems.

Armenia scored 4.79 on The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index published in January 2019 (data for 2018). Although still classified as "hybrid regime", Armenia recorded the strongest improvement among European countries [146] and reached its ever-best score since calculation began in 2006. [147]

Armenia is classified as "partly free" in the 2019 report (with data from 2018) by Freedom House, which gives it a score of 51 out of 100, [148] which is 6 points ahead of the previous estimate. [149]

Armenia has recorded an unprecedented progress in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, improving its position by 19 points and ranking 61st on the list. The publication also confirms the absence of cases of killed journalists, citizen journalists or media assistants. [150] [151]

Armenia ranks 54th in the 2017 report The Human Freedom Index (with data from 2016) published by Canada's Fraser Institute. [152]

Armenia ranked 29th for economic freedom and 76th for personal freedom among 159 countries in the 2017 Human Freedom Index published by the Cato Institute . [153] [154]

These classifications may improve when data from 2018, including the period of the velvet revolution and thereafter, is analyzed.

Administrative divisions

Armenia is divided into ten provinces (marzer, singular marz), with the city (kaghak) of Yerevan ( Երևան ) having special administrative status as the country's capital. The chief executive in each of the ten provinces is the marzpet (marz governor), appointed by the government of Armenia. In Yerevan, the chief executive is the mayor, elected since 2009.

Within each province there are communities (hamaynkner, singular hamaynk). Each community is self-governing and consists of one or more settlements (bnakavayrer, singular bnakavayr). Settlements are classified as either towns (kaghakner, singular kaghak) or villages (gyugher, singular gyugh). As of 2007 [update] , Armenia includes 915 communities, of which 49 are considered urban and 866 are considered rural. The capital, Yerevan, also has the status of a community. [155] Additionally, Yerevan is divided into twelve semi-autonomous districts.

Province Capital Area (km 2 ) Population †
Aragatsotn Արագածոտն Ashtarak Աշտարակ 2,756 132,925
Ararat Արարատ Artashat Արտաշատ 2,090 260,367
Armavir Արմավիր Armavir Արմավիր 1,242 265,770
Gegharkunik Գեղարքունիք Gavar Գավառ 5,349 235,075
Kotayk Կոտայք Hrazdan Հրազդան 2,086 254,397
Lori Լոռի Vanadzor Վանաձոր 3,799 235,537
Shirak Շիրակ Gyumri Գյումրի 2,680 251,941
Syunik Սյունիք Kapan Կապան 4,506 141,771
Tavush Տավուշ Ijevan Իջևան 2,704 128,609
Vayots Dzor Վայոց Ձոր Yeghegnadzor Եղեգնաձոր 2,308 52,324
Yerevan Երևան 223 1,060,138

† 2011 census
Sources: Area and population of provinces. [156]

The economy relies heavily on investment and support from Armenians abroad. [157] Before independence, Armenia's economy was largely industry-based – chemicals, electronics, machinery, processed food, synthetic rubber, and textile – and highly dependent on outside resources. The republic had developed a modern industrial sector, supplying machine tools, textiles, and other manufactured goods to sister republics in exchange for raw materials and energy. [61]

Agriculture accounted for less than 20% of both net material product and total employment before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. After independence, the importance of agriculture in the economy increased markedly, its share at the end of the 1990s rising to more than 30% of GDP and more than 40% of total employment. [158] This increase in the importance of agriculture was attributable to food security needs of the population in the face of uncertainty during the first phases of transition and the collapse of the non-agricultural sectors of the economy in the early 1990s. As the economic situation stabilised and growth resumed, the share of agriculture in GDP dropped to slightly over 20% (2006 data), although the share of agriculture in employment remained more than 40%. [159]

Armenian mines produce copper, zinc, gold, and lead. The vast majority of energy is produced with fuel imported from Russia, including gas and nuclear fuel (for its one nuclear power plant) the main domestic energy source is hydroelectric. Small deposits of coal, gas, and petroleum exist but have not yet been developed.

Access to biocapacity in Armenia is lower than world average. In 2016, Armenia had 0.8 global hectares [160] of biocapacity per person within its territory, much less than the world average of 1.6 global hectares per person. [161] In 2016 Armenia used 1.9 global hectares of biocapacity per person - their ecological footprint of consumption. This means they use double as much biocapacity as Armenia contains. As a result, Armenia is running a biocapacity deficit. [160]

Like other newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, Armenia's economy suffers from the breakdown of former Soviet trading patterns. Soviet investment in and support of Armenian industry has virtually disappeared, so that few major enterprises are still able to function. In addition, the effects of the 1988 Spitak earthquake, which killed more than 25,000 people and made 500,000 homeless, are still being felt. The conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has not been resolved. Shutdown of the nuclear power plant in 1989 lead to the Armenian energy crisis of 1990s. The GDP fell nearly 60% between 1989 and 1993, but then resumed robust growth after the power plant was reopened in 1995. [158] The national currency, the dram, suffered hyperinflation for the first years after its introduction in 1993.

Nevertheless, the government was able to make wide-ranging economic reforms that paid off in dramatically lower inflation and steady growth. The 1994 cease-fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has also helped the economy. Armenia has had strong economic growth since 1995, building on the turnaround that began the previous year, and inflation has been negligible for the past several years. New sectors, such as precious-stone processing and jewelry making, information and communication technology and tourism are beginning to supplement more traditional sectors of the economy, such as agriculture. [162]

This steady economic progress has earned Armenia increasing support from international institutions. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and other international financial institutions (IFIs) and foreign countries are extending considerable grants and loans. Loans to Armenia since 1993 exceed $1.1 billion. These loans are targeted at reducing the budget deficit and stabilising the currency developing private businesses energy agriculture food processing transportation the health and education sectors and ongoing rehabilitation in the earthquake zone. The government joined the World Trade Organization on 5 February 2003. But one of the main sources of foreign direct investments remains the Armenian diaspora, which finances major parts of the reconstruction of infrastructure and other public projects. Being a growing democratic state, Armenia also hopes to get more financial aid from the Western World.

A liberal foreign investment law was approved in June 1994, and a law on privatization was adopted in 1997, as well as a program of state property privatization. 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. However, unemployment, which was 18.5% in 2015, [163] still remains a major problem due to the influx of thousands of refugees from the Karabakh conflict.

International rankings

In the 2021 report of Index of Economic Freedom by Heritage Foundation, Armenia is classified as "mostly free" and ranks 32th, ahead of all other Eurasian Economic Union countries and many EU countries including Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Belgium, Spain, France, Portugal and Italy. [100] [164]

In the 2019 report (data for 2017) of Economic Freedom of the World published by Fraser Institute Armenia ranks 27th (classified most free) out of 162 economies. [165] [166]

In the 2019 report of Global Competitiveness Index Armenia ranks 69th out of 141 economies. [167]

In the 2020 report (data for 2019) of Doing Business Index Armenia ranks 47th with 10th rank on "starting business" sub-index. [168]

In the 2018 report (data for 2017) of Human Development Index by UNDP Armenia ranked 83rd and is classified into "high human development" group. [169]

In the 2020 report of Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International Armenia ranked 49 of 179 countries. [170]

In the "Freedom on the Net 2019" report by Freedom House Armenia scored best in the region and was classified as a free country. [171] [172]

Science and technology

Research spending is low in Armenia, averaging 0.25% of GDP over 2010–2013. However, the statistical record of research expenditure is incomplete, as expenditure by privately owned business enterprises is not surveyed in Armenia. The world average for domestic expenditure on research was 1.7% of GDP in 2013. [173]

The country's Strategy for the Development of Science 2011–2020 envisions that 'by 2020, Armenia is a country with a knowledge-based economy and is competitive within the European Research Area with its level of basic and applied research.' It fixes the following targets: [173]

  • Creation of a system capable of sustaining the development of science and technology
  • Development of scientific potential, modernization of scientific infrastructure
  • Promotion of basic and applied research
  • Creation of a synergistic system of education, science and innovation and
  • Becoming a prime location for scientific specialization in the European Research Area.

Based on this strategy, the accompanying Action Plan was approved by the government in June 2011. It defines the following targets: [173]

  • Improve the management system for science and technology and create the requisite conditions for sustainable development
  • Involve more young, talented people in education and research, while upgrading research infrastructure
  • Create the requisite conditions for the development of an integrated national innovation system and
  • Enhance international co-operation in research and development.

Although the Strategy clearly pursues a 'science push' approach, with public research institutes serving as the key policy target, it nevertheless mentions the goal of establishing an innovation system. However, the main driver of innovation, the business sector, is not mentioned. In between publishing the Strategy and Action Plan, the government issued a resolution in May 2010 on Science and Technology Development Priorities for 2010–2014. These priorities are: [173]

  • Armenian studies, humanities and social sciences
  • Life sciences
  • Renewable energy, new energy sources
  • Advanced technologies, information technologies
  • Space, Earth sciences, sustainable use of natural resources and
  • Basic research promoting essential applied research.

The Law on the National Academy of Sciences was adopted in May 2011. This law is expected to play a key role in shaping the Armenian innovation system. It allows the National Academy of Sciences to extend its business activities to the commercialization of research results and the creation of spin-offs it also makes provision for restructuring the National Academy of Sciences by combining institutes involved in closely related research areas into a single body. Three of these new centres are particularly relevant: the Centre for Biotechnology, the Centre for Zoology and Hydro-ecology and the Centre for Organic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. [173]

The government is focusing its support on selected industrial sectors. More than 20 projects have been cofunded by the State Committee of Science in targeted branches: pharmaceuticals, medicine and biotechnology, agricultural mechanization and machine building, electronics, engineering, chemistry and, in particular, the sphere of information technology. [173]

Over the past decade, the government has made an effort to encourage science–industry linkages. The Armenian information technology sector has been particularly active: a number of public–private partnerships have been established between companies and universities, in order to give students marketable skills and generate innovative ideas at the interface of science and business. Examples are Synopsys Inc. and the Enterprise Incubator Foundation. [173]


In medieval times, the University of Gladzor and University of Tatev took an important role for whole Armenia.

A literacy rate of 100% was reported as early as 1960. [174] In the communist era, Armenian education followed the standard Soviet model of complete state control (from Moscow) of curricula and teaching methods and close integration of education activities with other aspects of society, such as politics, culture, and the economy. [174]

In the 1988–89 school year, 301 students per 10,000 were in specialized secondary or higher education, a figure slightly lower than the Soviet average. [174] In 1989, some 58% of Armenians over age fifteen had completed their secondary education, and 14% had a higher education. [174] In the 1990–91 school year, the estimated 1,307 primary and secondary schools were attended by 608,800 students. [174] Another seventy specialised secondary institutions had 45,900 students, and 68,400 students were enrolled in a total of ten postsecondary institutions that included universities. [174] In addition, 35% of eligible children attended preschools. [174] In 1992 Armenia's largest institution of higher learning, Yerevan State University, had eighteen departments, including ones for social sciences, sciences, and law. [174] Its faculty numbered about 1,300 teachers and its student population about 10,000 students. [174] The National Polytechnic University of Armenia is operating since 1933. [174]

In the early 1990s, Armenia made substantial changes to the centralised and regimented Soviet system. [174] Because at least 98% of students in higher education were Armenian, curricula began to emphasise Armenian history and culture. [174] Armenian became the dominant language of instruction, and many schools that had taught in Russian closed by the end of 1991. [174] Russian was still widely taught, however, as a second language. [174]

In 2014, the National Program for Educational Excellence embarked on creating an internationally competitive and academically rigorous alternative educational program (the Araratian Baccalaureate) for Armenian schools and increasing the importance and status of the teacher's role in society. [175] [176]

The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for regulation of the sector. Primary and secondary education in Armenia is free, and completion of secondary school is compulsory. [174] Higher education in Armenia is harmonized with the Bologna process and the European Higher Education Area. The Armenian National Academy of Sciences plays an important role in postgraduate education.

Schooling takes 12 years in Armenia and breaks down into primary (4 years), middle (5 years) and high school (3 years). Schools engage a 10-grade mark system. The government also supports Armenian schools outside of Armenia.

Gross enrollment in tertiary education at 44% in 2015 surpassed peer countries of the South Caucasus but remained below the average for Europe and Central Asia. [177] However, public spending per student in tertiary education in GDP-ratio terms is one of the lowest for post-USSR countries (for which data was available). [178]

Armenia has a population of 2,951,745 (2018 est.) [179] [180] and is the third most densely populated of the former Soviet republics. [181] There has been a problem of population decline due to elevated levels of emigration after the break-up of the USSR. [182] In the past years emigration levels have declined and some population growth is observed since 2012. [183]

Armenia has a relatively large external diaspora (8 million by some estimates, greatly exceeding the 3 million population of Armenia itself), with communities existing across the globe. The largest Armenian communities outside of Armenia can be found in Russia, France, Iran, the United States, Georgia, Syria, Lebanon, Australia, Canada, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Poland, Ukraine and Brazil. 40,000 to 70,000 Armenians still live in Turkey (mostly in and around Istanbul). [184]

About 1,000 Armenians reside in the Armenian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, a remnant of a once-larger community. [185] Italy is home to the San Lazzaro degli Armeni, an island located in the Venetian Lagoon, which is completely occupied by a monastery run by the Mechitarists, an Armenian Catholic congregation. [186] Approximately 139,000 Armenians live in the de facto independent country Republic of Artsakh where they form a majority. [187]

Ethnic groups

Ethnic Armenians make up 98.1% of the population. Yazidis make up 1.2%, and Russians 0.4%. Other minorities include Assyrians, Ukrainians, Greeks (usually called Caucasus Greeks), Kurds, Georgians, Belarusians, and Jews. There are also smaller communities of Vlachs, Mordvins, Ossetians, Udis, and Tats. Minorities of Poles and Caucasus Germans also exist though they are heavily Russified. [188] As of 2016 [update] , there are an estimated 35,000 Yazidis in Armenia. [189]

During the Soviet era, Azerbaijanis were historically the second largest population in the country (forming about 2.5% in 1989). [190] However, due to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, virtually all of them emigrated from Armenia to Azerbaijan. Conversely, Armenia received a large influx of Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan, thus giving Armenia a more homogeneous character.

According to Gallup research conducted in 2017 Armenia has one of the highest migrant acceptance (welcoming) rates in eastern Europe. [191]


Armenian is the only official language. The main foreign languages that Armenians know are Russian and English. Due to its Soviet past, most of the old population can speak Russian quite well. According to a 2013 survey, 95% of Armenians said they had some knowledge of Russian (24% advanced, 59% intermediate) compared to 40% who said they knew some English (4% advanced, 16% intermediate and 20% beginner). However, more adults (50%) think that English should be taught in public secondary schools than those who prefer Russian (44%). [192]



Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, an event traditionally dated to AD 301. [204] [205] [206]

The predominant religion in Armenia is Christianity. Its roots go back to the 1st century AD, when it was founded by two of Jesus' twelve apostles – Thaddaeus and Bartholomew – who preached Christianity in Armenia between AD 40–60.

Over 93% of Christians in Armenia belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, [207] [208] which is in communion only with the churches comprising Oriental Orthodoxy—of which it is itself a member.

Catholics also exist in Armenia, both Latin rite and Armenian rite. The latter group, the Armenian Catholic Church, is headquartered in Bzoummar, Lebanon. Of note are the Mechitarists (also spelled "Mekhitarists" Armenian: Մխիթարեան ), a congregation of Benedictine monks in the Armenian Catholic Church, founded in 1712 by Mekhitar of Sebaste. They are best known for their series of scholarly publications of ancient Armenian versions of otherwise lost ancient Greek texts.

The Armenian Evangelical Church has several thousand members throughout the country.

Other Christian denominations in Armenia are the Pentecostal branches of Protestant community such as the Word of Life, the Armenian Brotherhood Church, [209] the Baptists which are known as of the oldest existing denominations in Armenia and were permitted by the authorities of Soviet Union, [210] [211] and Presbyterians. [212]

Armenia is also home to a Russian community of Molokans which practice a form of Spiritual Christianity originated from the Russian Orthodox Church. [213]

The Yazidis, who live in the western part of the country, practice Yazidism. [214] As of 2016 [update] , the world's largest Yazidi temple is under construction in the small village of Aknalish. [189] There are also Kurds who practice Sunni Islam. [ citation needed ]

There is a Jewish community in Armenia diminished to 750 persons since independence with most emigrants leaving for Israel. There are currently two synagogues in Armenia – in the capital, Yerevan, and in the city of Sevan located near Lake Sevan.

Health care

Armenians have their own distinctive alphabet and language. [215] The alphabet was invented in AD 405 by Mesrop Mashtots and consists of thirty-nine letters, three of which were added during the Cilician period. 96% of the people in the country speak Armenian, while 75.8% of the population additionally speaks Russian, although English is becoming increasingly popular.

Music and dance

Armenian music is a mix of indigenous folk music, perhaps best-represented by Djivan Gasparyan's well-known duduk music, as well as light pop, and extensive Christian music.

Instruments like the duduk, dhol, zurna, and kanun are commonly found in Armenian folk music. Artists such as Sayat Nova are famous due to their influence in the development of Armenian folk music. One of the oldest types of Armenian music is the Armenian chant which is the most common kind of religious music in Armenia. Many of these chants are ancient in origin, extending to pre-Christian times, while others are relatively modern, including several composed by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet. Whilst under Soviet rule, the Armenian classical music composer Aram Khatchaturian became internationally well known for his music, for various ballets and the Sabre Dance from his composition for the ballet Gayane.

The Armenian Genocide caused widespread emigration that led to the settlement of Armenians in various countries in the world. Armenians kept to their traditions and certain diasporans rose to fame with their music. In the post-genocide Armenian community of the United States, the so-called "kef" style Armenian dance music, using Armenian and Middle Eastern folk instruments (often electrified/amplified) and some western instruments, was popular. This style preserved the folk songs and dances of Western Armenia, and many artists also played the contemporary popular songs of Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries from which the Armenians emigrated.

Richard Hagopian is perhaps the most famous artist of the traditional "kef" style and the Vosbikian Band was notable in the 1940s and 1950s for developing their own style of "kef music" heavily influenced by the popular American Big Band Jazz of the time. Later, stemming from the Middle Eastern Armenian diaspora and influenced by Continental European (especially French) pop music, the Armenian pop music genre grew to fame in the 1960s and 1970s with artists such as Adiss Harmandian and Harout Pamboukjian performing to the Armenian diaspora and Armenia also with artists such as Sirusho, performing pop music combined with Armenian folk music in today's entertainment industry.

Other Armenian diasporans that rose to fame in classical or international music circles are world-renowned French-Armenian singer and composer Charles Aznavour, pianist Sahan Arzruni, prominent opera sopranos such as Hasmik Papian and more recently Isabel Bayrakdarian and Anna Kasyan. Certain Armenians settled to sing non-Armenian tunes such as the heavy metal band System of a Down (which nonetheless often incorporates traditional Armenian instrumentals and styling into their songs) or pop star Cher. In the Armenian diaspora, Armenian revolutionary songs are popular with the youth. These songs encourage Armenian patriotism and are generally about Armenian history and national heroes.

Yerevan Vernissage (arts and crafts market), close to Republic Square, bustles with hundreds of vendors selling a variety of crafts on weekends and Wednesdays (though the selection is much reduced mid-week). The market offers woodcarving, antiques, fine lace, and the hand-knotted wool carpets and kilims that are a Caucasus speciality. Obsidian, which is found locally, is crafted into assortment of jewellery and ornamental objects. Armenian gold smithery enjoys a long tradition, populating one corner of the market with a selection of gold items. Soviet relics and souvenirs of recent Russian manufacture – nesting dolls, watches, enamel boxes and so on – are also available at the Vernisage.

Across from the Opera House, a popular art market fills another city park on the weekends. Armenia's long history as a crossroads of the ancient world has resulted in a landscape with innumerable fascinating archaeological sites to explore. Medieval, Iron Age, Bronze Age and even Stone Age sites are all within a few hours drive from the city. All but the most spectacular remain virtually undiscovered, allowing visitors to view churches and fortresses in their original settings.

The National Art Gallery in Yerevan has more than 16,000 works that date back to the Middle Ages, which indicate Armenia's rich tales and stories of the times. It houses paintings by many European masters as well. The Modern Art Museum, the Children's Picture Gallery, and the Martiros Saryan Museum are only a few of the other noteworthy collections of fine art on display in Yerevan. Moreover, many private galleries are in operation, with many more opening every year, featuring rotating exhibitions and sales.

On 13 April 2013, the Armenian government announced a change in law to allow freedom of panorama for 3D works of art. [216]


Cinema in Armenia was born on 16 April 1923, when the Armenian State Committee of Cinema was established by a decree of the Soviet Armenian government.

However, the first Armenian film with Armenian subject called "Haykakan Sinema" was produced earlier in 1912 in Cairo by Armenian-Egyptian publisher Vahan Zartarian. The film was premiered in Cairo on 13 March 1913. [217]

In March 1924, the first Armenian film studio Armenfilm (Armenian: Հայֆիլմ "Hayfilm," Russian: Арменкино "Armenkino") was established in Yerevan, starting with a documentary film called Soviet Armenia.

Namus was the first Armenian silent black-and-white film, directed by Hamo Beknazarian in 1925, based on a play of Alexander Shirvanzade, describing the ill fate of two lovers, who were engaged by their families to each other since childhood, but because of violations of namus (a tradition of honor), the girl was married by her father to another person. The first sound film, Pepo was shot in 1935 and directed by Hamo Beknazarian.


A wide array of sports are played in Armenia, the most popular among them being wrestling, weightlifting, judo, association football, chess, and boxing. Armenia's mountainous terrain provides great opportunities for the practice of sports like skiing and climbing. Being a landlocked country, water sports can only be practised on lakes, notably Lake Sevan. Competitively, Armenia has been successful in chess, weightlifting and wrestling at the international level. Armenia is also an active member of the international sports community, with full membership in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). It also hosts the Pan-Armenian Games.

Prior to 1992, Armenians would participate in the Olympics representing the USSR. As part of the Soviet Union, Armenia was very successful, winning plenty of medals and helping the USSR win the medal standings at the Olympics on numerous occasions. The first medal won by an Armenian in modern Olympic history was by Hrant Shahinyan (sometimes spelled as Grant Shaginyan), who won two golds and two silvers in gymnastics at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. To highlight the level of success of Armenians in the Olympics, Shahinyan was quoted as saying:

"Armenian sportsmen had to outdo their opponents by several notches for the shot at being accepted into any Soviet team. But those difficulties notwithstanding, 90 percent of Armenian athletes on Soviet Olympic teams came back with medals." [218]

Armenia first participated at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona under a unified CIS team, where it was very successful, winning three golds and one silver in weightlifting, wrestling and sharp shooting, despite only having five athletes. Since the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Armenia has participated as an independent nation.

Armenia participates in the Summer Olympic Games in boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, judo, gymnastics, track and field, diving, swimming and sharp shooting. It also participates in the Winter Olympic Games in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and figure skating.

Football is also popular in Armenia. The most successful team was the FC Ararat Yerevan team of the 1970s who won the Soviet Cup in 1973 and 1975 and the Soviet Top League in 1973. The latter achievement saw FC Ararat gain entry to the European Cup where – despite a home victory in the second leg – they lost on aggregate at the quarter final stage to eventual winner FC Bayern Munich. Armenia competed internationally as part of the USSR national football team until the Armenian national football team was formed in 1992 after the split of the Soviet Union. Armenia have never qualified for a major tournament although recent improvements saw the team to achieve 44th position in the FIFA World Rankings in September 2011. The national team is controlled by the Football Federation of Armenia. The Armenian Premier League is the highest level football competition in Armenia, and has been dominated by FC Pyunik in recent seasons. The league currently consists of eight teams and relegates to the Armenian First League.

Armenia and the Armenian diaspora have produced many successful footballers, including Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Youri Djorkaeff, Alain Boghossian, Andranik Eskandarian, Andranik Teymourian, Edgar Manucharyan and Nikita Simonyan. Djokaeff and Boghossian won the 1998 FIFA World Cup with France, Teymourian competed in the 2006 World Cup for Iran and Manucharyan played in the Dutch Eredivisie for Ajax. Mkhitaryan has been one of the most successful Armenian footballers in recent years, playing for international clubs such as Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United, Arsenal and currently for A.S. Roma. [219]

Wrestling has been a successful sport in the Olympics for Armenia. At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Armen Nazaryan won the gold in the Men's Greco-Roman Flyweight (52 kg) category and Armen Mkrtchyan won the silver in Men's Freestyle Paperweight (48 kg) category, securing Armenia's first two medals in its Olympic history.

Traditional Armenian wrestling is called Kokh and practised in traditional garb it was one of the influences included in the Soviet combat sport of Sambo, which is also very popular. [220]

The government of Armenia budgets about $2.8 million annually for sports and gives it to the National Committee of Physical Education and Sports, the body that determines which programs should benefit from the funds. [218]

Due to the lack of success lately on the international level, in recent years, Armenia has rebuilt 16 Soviet-era sports schools and furnished them with new equipment for a total cost of $1.9 million. The rebuilding of the regional schools was financed by the Armenian government. $9.3 million has been invested in the resort town of Tsaghkadzor to improve the winter sports infrastructure because of dismal performances at recent winter sports events. In 2005, a cycling centre was opened in Yerevan with the aim of helping produce world class Armenian cyclists. The government has also promised a cash reward of $700,000 to Armenians who win a gold medal at the Olympics. [218]

Armenia has also been very successful in chess, winning the World Champion in 2011 and the World Chess Olympiad on three occasions. [221]


Armenian cuisine is closely related to eastern and Mediterranean cuisine various spices, vegetables, fish, and fruits combine to present unique dishes. The main characteristics of Armenian cuisine are a reliance on the quality of the ingredients rather than heavily spicing food, the use of herbs, the use of wheat in a variety of forms, of legumes, nuts, and fruit (as a main ingredient as well as to sour food), and the stuffing of a wide variety of leaves.

The pomegranate, with its symbolic association with fertility, represents the nation. The apricot is the national fruit.


Television, magazines, and newspapers are all operated by both state-owned and for-profit corporations which depend on advertising, subscription, and other sales-related revenues. The Constitution of Armenia guarantees freedom of speech and Armenia ranks 61st in the 2020 Press Freedom Index report compiled by Reporters Without Borders, between Georgia and Poland. [222] Armenia's press freedom rose considerably following the 2018 Velvet Revolution.

As of 2020, the biggest issue facing press freedom in Armenia is judicial harassment of journalists, specifically defamation suits and attacks on journalists' right to protect sources, [223] as well as excessive responses to combat disinformation spread by social media users. Reporters Without Borders also cites continued concerns about lack of transparency regarding ownership of media outlets. [222]

This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0. Text taken from UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030, 324–26, UNESCO, UNESCO Publishing. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use.

Armenian Genocide History and Timeline

In April of 1915 tens of thousands of Armenian men were rounded up and shot. Hundreds of thousands of women, old men and children were deported south across the mountains to Cilicia and Syria. On April 15 the Armenians appealed to the German Ambassador in Constantinople for formal German protection. This was rejected by Berlin on the grounds that it would offend the Turkish Government. By April 19 more than 50,000 Armenians had been murdered in the Van province.

Within nine months, more than 600,000 Armenians were massacred. Of the deported during that same period, more than 400,000 perished of the brutalities and privations of the southward march into Mesopotamia. By September more than a million Armenians were the victims of what later became known as the Armenian Genocide! A further 200,000 were forcibly converted to Islam to give Armenia a new Turkish sense of identity and strip the Armenian people of their past as the first Christian state in the world.

Early Modern Era

In the 1230s, the Mongol Empire seized Armenia and its invasion was soon followed by invasions from other Central tribes, for instance, the Ak Koyunlu, Timurid, and Kara Koyunlu. These invasions continued until the 15th century bringing about a lot of destruction, and with time, Armenia became weak.

In the 16th century, the Safavid and Ottoman Empires divided Armenia. At the same time, both Eastern and Western Armenia came under Iranian Safavid governance. From mid 16th century with the Peace of Amasya, and from the first half of the 17th century with the Treaty of Zuhab up to the first half of the 19th century, Eastern Armenia was governed by the Iranian Safavid, Afsharid and Qajar Empires, and Western Armenia remained under the governance of the Ottoman Empire.

Deportations into the desert

After arresting the Armenian intelligentsia, mass deportations began in full force. Armenian people from across the Ottoman Empire were marched to "relocation camps," though really they were just marched into the Syrian Desert. "The Armenian Genocide, 1915" explains how the final order for deportation was given by Talaat Pasha on May 23rd, 1915. Several days later, "in an attempt to camouflage the deportations as legal, Talaat drew up the temporary 'Dispatchment and Settlement Law.'" But by this point, deportations were well underway.

According to Words Without Borders, sometimes the march would take over a month along a trail of over 500 miles that was before long littered with corpses. In places like Cungus, "an untold number of Armenians were tossed to their deaths" into a crevice in the landscape. Often, Armenian men and boys were separated and executed while women and young children made up the majority of the marchers sometimes older men survived long enough to make it to the camps. But a majority of Armenian men had already been conscripted to fight in World War I.

Government notices were put up informing Armenians to leave all of their belongings and that they would face legal action if they tried to sell anything. The notices also claimed that "on your return, you will get everything you left behind." In some places, Armenians were given a few days, while others only had a few hours to prepare for their exile.


U.S. Recognition of the Armenian Republic, 1920 .

The United States recognized the independence of the Armenian Republic on April 23, 1920 , when Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby delivered a note to the Representative of the Armenian Republic ( Pasdermadjian ) in Washington, informing him of President Woodrow Wilson ’s decision. The note specified that this recognition “in no way predetermines the territorial frontiers, which…are matters for later delimitation .”

The territory expected to compose the independent Armenian Republic previously had been under the sovereignty of the Ottoman and Russian Empires. At the request of the Paris Peace Conference’s Supreme Council of the Allied Powers, President Wilson arbitrated the boundary to be set between Armenia and Turkey, and submitted his determinations to the Supreme Council on November 22, 1920. Prior to Wilson’s decisions, however, the territory expected to compose the Armenian Republic had been attacked by Turkish and Bolshevik troops. By the end of 1920 the Armenian Republic had ceased to exist as an independent state, with its territory either seized by Turkey or established as the Armenian Soviet Republic, which subsequently joined the Soviet Union.

U.S. Recognition of Armenia, 1991 .

The United States recognized Armenia’s independence on December 25, 1991, when President George H.W. Bush announced the decision in an address to the nation regarding the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Armenia previously had been a constituent republic of the USSR.

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