Ethnic minorities in Armenia

With 98% of its population being ethnic Armenians, the country is one of the most ethnically homogeneous countries in the world. However, ethnic minorities are often unrepresented in different institutions and discriminated regarding their culture, language and traditions.

On Wednesday, the 14th December 2016, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Karen Karapetyan, met with various representatives of ethnic minorities. The conference aimed at listening to the concerns of ethnic minorities in Armenia and discussing a possible bilateral cooperation as well as ways to support them. The topics included amongst others the social and economic situation of the ethnic minorities, community infrastructures and conditions of school buildings, increase in the number of university scholarships for ethnic minorities and TV programs informing about them.

The representatives of the ethnic minorities are engaged in educational, social and cultural activities on regional and state level. Moreover they welcomed the current preservation of their language, culture and traditions by the national educational and cultural centres.

Armenia is an extremely homogenous country and ethnic Armenians constitute over 98% of the population. The largest ethnic minority are the Yazidis, followed by Russians.

The Armenian law does, for example, not ensure the representation of minorities in the Armenian Parliament  or in other government bodies. Although minorities are sometimes elected in local institutions, the representation on a national level is very low. This could also be observed in other sectors, like the radio or television. Consequently this leads to the neglect of minority issues.

In recent years various institutions have been established for the legal protection of minorities. This, however, does not mean that the concerns voiced by minority representatives, are considered.

Another problem is Armenia’s poor economic situation, which leads to a lack of available funding for ethnic minorities, although appropriate institutions are in place.

Furthermore Armenian is the only official state language. While the state language policy states to support minority languages, it mostly promotes the use of Armenian. A positive development includes that several newspapers and magazines are published in Russian, and occasionally in Kurdish and Yazidi.

Christianity is the main religion in Armenia and the Armenian Apostolic Church the leading denomination. While theoretically the Armenian constitution promotes the separation of church and state, it is not so clearly evidenced in practice. Therefore education is proclaimed as being secular as well, but the Armenian Apostolic Church is engaged in the teaching regulations of certain classes in public schools.

Although Armenia has not yet implemented a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, which is outlined in the ENP Action Plan, it ratified various documents like the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages of the Council of Europe.

Armenia has proved determination in the fight against racism and intolerance and has made progress in integrating minorities.  



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