Armenia in the vice: Prisoner of history | The Economist
ARMENIA tends to feature in the news because of its problems (history, geography, demography and economics to name but a few. But a new report from the International Crisis Group (ICG) says not all is doom and gloom. The parliamentary elections in May showed significant improvement. Media coverage was more balanced, and the authorities permitted greater freedom of assembly, expression and movement than in previous years. Like Georgia, Armenia has a class of “30-something” technocrats, whose western education and global outlook means they are less rooted in the Soviet mentality than their elders. That bodes well for the future.
The economy is still recovering from the global financial crisis, which saw GDP contract by 14.2% in 2009. In the same period, the construction sector contracted by more than 40%. Remittances from the diaspora dropped by 30%. That led Forbes magazine to label Armenia the world’s second worst performing economy in 2011–much to Yerevan’s irritation. Although official statistics claim 8 percent unemployment, 48% of respondents told a recent survey they were looking for a job. Over one-third of the country lives below the poverty line. Complaints of corruption are widespread, and inflation is high.