Armenia Between Russia and the West: Foreign Political Priorities in Public Opinion

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Dean, Faculty of Sociology
Affiliation: Yerevan State University
Address: Armenia, Yerevan
Occupation: Head of Applied Sociology Department
Affiliation: Yerevan State University
Address: Armenia, Yerevan
Journal nameSotsiologicheskie issledovaniya
EditionIssue 12

Having declared the policy of complementarism as a priority of allied relations with the Russian Federation and parallel multifaceted (mainly non-military) interaction with Western countries, Armenia increasingly faced the strategic difficulty of this diverse choice. With the beginning of the direct and open confrontation between the West and the Russian Federation around Ukraine, the former model of complementarism has finally become conceptually and practically almost impossible. The paper presents the current dynamics of public perceptions of foreign political priorities in Armenia after the 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh, revealed in the context of the global confrontation between the Russian Federation and the West. The study shows that public perceptions of Russia as a strategic ally to Armenia remain a dominant narrative. Despite the objective and subjective reasons for the disappointment with the role of Russia in the Karabakh war of 2020, as well as the reflection of such moods in public discourse, the level of trust in Russia as an ally after the war remained about the same as before, but over the past decade, the decline of trust in Russia in favor of the West was the main trend. The stereotypical image of the West is mainly associated with the EU (with France in particular) and with the USA; the rating of France in the Armenian society is significantly higher than of the United States. It has sharply increased after the war in Karabakh, probably due to lower expectations towards France than towards Russia among Armenians and the pro-Armenian position of France compared to other EU countries in the Karabakh war. Among the weaknesses of the pro-Russian foreign policy orientation of the Armenian society is low trust toward the Russia-based institutional structures (CSTO, EAEU), while pro-Western regional counterparts (EU, NATO) seem to be more perspective for Armenia.

KeywordsArmenia, Russia, West, society, public perceptions, the Velvet Revolution in Armenia, the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, complementarism
AcknowledgmentThis work is part of the research project “Armenian Society on Crossroad: Foreign Political Orientation, Priorities, and Perceptions,” funded by Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Armenia) in 2021–2022.
Publication date27.12.2022
Number of characters31693
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