The European Union has provided 2.6 billion euros to Armenia. Part of the money is being given as a loan, the other part as aid. This large funding coming after the war and the snap elections has been the subject of various comments. The government saw their own contribution to democracy here, the opposition saw the investment as not in favor of the Armenian agenda.
Why is the EU allocating large sums of money to Armenia?
The European Union starts a five-year phase of cooperation with its Eastern partners this year. Within the framework of this program, on July 7, it turned out that the EU allocated 1.6 billion euros to Armenia for priority special programs and mobilized an additional 1 billion euros through other sources.
The priorities set jointly by the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the EU are the following:
- Strengthening the resistance of war-torn Syunik,
- Construction of “North-South” highway and supporting infrastructure,
- Socio-economic development of the southern regions of Armenia,
- Promoting digital governance and innovation,
- Development of Yerevan as a green and smart city.
This large amount of money provided to Armenia after the war and the coronavirus epidemic raised questions. Some tried to find logical explanations, some found conspiracy theories. In this article, media.am summarizes the widespread manipulations and theories about EU funding.
Danger to Armenian-Russian relations
An article published in Hayeli.am predicted a new Armenian-Azerbaijani war. The author of the article Hayk Davtyan wrote, “But it is kind of hard to imagine that the Russian army will protect the borders of the state to which the European Union will provide 2.6 billion euros.” This assertion contradicts Armenia’s Collective Security Treaty, to which Armenia has been a member since May 1992. Article 4 states that aggression against the Member States “shall be deemed to be aggression against all States Parties to this Treaty.” The other members of the treaty will provide the necessary assistance.
Zhoghovurd Daily linked the rumors about investments and Armen Grigoryan’s appointment as Deputy Foreign Minister and concluded that it was a sign of “change in Armenia’s foreign policy vector.” The issue of changing the vector of foreign policy was brought to the agenda on ArmNews TV by the head of the Henaket analytical center, now MP from the “I have honor” bloc Tigran Abrahamyan (in the video from 24:24 minutes).
These conclusions contradict the 2021-2026 program of the government headed by Nikol Pashinyan. There is a separate reference to the Armenian-Russian strategic alliance and CSTO membership. The document clearly states that the capabilities of the Russian 102nd military base are enriched, and the number of Russian border guards will be increased.
The money is for “their Nikol”
In addition to the breakdown of Armenian-Russian relations, this investment was seen as a bribe given to the Armenian people. In particular, political scientist Gagik Hambaryan considered the money to be directed to the construction of the north-south road as a “bribe” given to the Armenian people by the EU to solve “their Nikol’s” problems. His post was spread by a number of websites: hraparak.am, livenews.am and others.
This assertion is part of the popular conspiracy theory that the post-revolutionary authorities are the puppets of outside forces, more specifically, of the West. And the funding coming from the west is for “their” agenda.
It is the price of a secret agreement for the Istanbul Convention and other documents
The issue of a secret agreement for money was brought to the agenda in the National Assembly. The questioner was Armen Gevorgyan, who held various high state positions in Armenia and is now a deputy of the “Armenia” faction. He asked based on his experience and practice so far: “․․․ One of the obligations may be to join this or that contract. In particular, in connection with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.”
Arman Yeghoyan, who heads the Standing Committee on European Integration, confirmed that there is no commitment for this amount. “We definitely do not have to ratify any international agreement for any amount,” he said, reminding that the 2.6 billion euro spending points are clearly marked.
The example brought by Gevorgyan, the Istanbul Convention, has an ambiguous perception among the public. The Convention for the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence has been the target of disinformation campaigns in recent years. This is not the first time that the issue of ratification of the convention has been conditioned by dark agreements with the West.
A gift or a loan?
It is not clear what percentage of the EU funding is a loan and what is an investment. If the opposition speaks about the increase of the state debt and the tax burden, then the government claims the opposite.
In particular, Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan does not think that there is a problem of state debt, or that it makes sense to discuss it at this stage. According to him, “it is not ruled out that the component of grant and gratuitous tools will be very large, and secondly, when we agree on specific programs, each program will clearly contain that information.”
As the loan-to-investment ratio is unclear, it became the subject of various comments and information about the loan portion. For example, Naira Zohrabyan, a former member of the Prosperous Armenia party, wrote, “It is a very small portion of that amount, the so-called free money – about 200 million.” Political scientist Vahe Davtyan expressed such an opinion and insisted, “free cheese can only be in a trap.”
This amount of money is for democracy and elections
On July 9, the then Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan conditioned the money provided by the EU during the reception of the delegation led by the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhe with the snap parliamentary elections held in 2021. “In fact, for the first time in our country, democratic processes have become a means of overcoming a crisis, as elections in Armenia have usually caused crises,” he announced.
This comment then appeared in the materials published by the authorities. For example, the project of the “Public Relations and Information Center” SNCO of the Prime Minister’s Office, the expert of the “Orbeli” center wrote in his analysis, “In the context of the EU review of regional policy, the snap parliamentary elections in Armenia were of paramount importance for Armenia-EU relations.”
Civil Contract MP Arman Yeghoyan also used similar wording when running for the post of chairman of the Standing Committee on European Integration. “This amount of money was largely conditioned by the quality of the last elections. I am convinced that if we had held these elections as it was done in the last 25 or so years, there could not have been even a question of 260 million, I rule it out,” he stated from the NA tribune.
The money is the price of “snatching” Armenia from Russia
Russian websites interpreted the large funding coming from the EU as the price of snatching Armenia from Russia. For example, Stanislav Tarasov, who often comments on the Armenian press, included the comments of some experts in his analysis of Regnum. “Western democracies are trying to buy the shares of the state of Armenia, turning it into a platform for the realization of their interests in the lower part of Russia,” he wrote. And experts interviewed by Gazeta.ru believed that Yerevan was seeking to establish good relations with Turkey in order to integrate into the conventional Western world. This article was translated by livenews.am, panorama.am and others.
This point of view was also circulated in Armenia. “Europe is trying to buy Armenia and impose its agenda on it,” the ARF representatives stated during the protest action organized by the head of the European Council Charles Michel on the day he was in Armenia. And in the 168․am pavilion, political analyst Armen Baghdasaryan considered this financing a price and “monetary incentive” for “getting rid of Russia’s clutches” and “throwing oneself into the arms of the West” (in the video from 16:30).
The European Union is launching a five-year phase of cooperation with its Eastern partners this year, the “Recovery, Stability and Reform” program.
Armenia has been cooperating with the EU within the framework of the Eastern Partnership program since 2009. The data on the financial means directed to Armenia during these years can be seen in the summaries of the EU-Armenia relations. For example, more than €1 billion in mixed loans and grants has been invested in the energy, agriculture and transport sectors since 2014.
Sources and methods used to write the article
- Advanced search engine optimization tools were used to monitor this topic.
- For a more useful search, the period was filtered through search engine tools.
- A search was conducted on social networks
- We used the gov.am website