Armenia registered the largest two-year Democracy Score improvement in the history of the Freedom House’s Nations in Transit 2020 report.
The report is dedicated to the democratic developments in 29 post-Soviet Eurasian countries. It says “the score has reached its highest-ever point for Armenia, with improvements related to elections and corruption in the latest edition”.
According to the report, a national consensus in favor of political change, the rule of law, and the elimination of systemic corruption formed the basis of Armenia’s 2018 Velvet Revolution. “This public demand provides a historic opportunity for democracy’s advocates inside and outside the country”, the report says.
“Major transformations driven by public demands for better governance have been under way in Armenia and Ukraine. Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy will now face the difficult challenge of managing expectations, maintaining trust, and restructuring corrupt systems without contravening democratic norms”, the report says.
Freedom House urges to invest heavily in programs in Armenia that support the rule of law and strengthen independent institutions, including comprehensive judicial and police reforms. “Both the United States and the EU have stepped up support, but their programs should also focus on maintaining social cohesion and addressing political polarization. Overcoming these challenges could be the key to success for any other reforms”, according to the report.
The report highlights that a growing number of leaders in Central and Eastern Europe have dropped even the pretense that they play by the rules of democracy. They openly attack democratic institutions and are working to restrict individual freedoms.
“Many leaders in this region are no longer pretending to care about democracy or the rule of law,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “It is time for European leaders who are committed to freedom to address the crisis in their own neighborhood. The coronavirus crisis has created an inflection point, after which things could become much worse, or democracy could be revitalized,” said Abramowitz. “We hope that this experience will illustrate the importance of transparent and accountable governance and catalyze new demands for change.”