Since its independence in 1991, the Republic of Armenia (RA) has steadily increased its political and economic ties to the European Union. For instance, in 2009 RA became a member of the EU’s Eastern Partnership program. Moreover, several EU-based companies have stakes in the Armenian economy.
Despite the EU’s efforts to promote good governance in RA, economic resources and political power have become interwoven in often-illicit ways. Corruption is widespread at all levels of the state apparatus. Under these circumstances, the environment frequently falls prey to the financial interests of bureaucrats, politicians, and businesspeople. Despite the fact that RA is signatory to several international environmental treaties and conventions, environmental laws are weak, contradictory, and rarely enforced. The victims of a lax regulatory framework and environmental crime are often ordinary citizens, the economy at large and even the country’s national security. Common problem areas linked to environmental crime include RA’s vast mining sector, the logging industry and the hydroelectric sector.
In recent years, environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have emerged as the crucial defenders of RA’s environment, monitoring environmental pollution and denouncing offenders. Under the current conditions, RA’s civil society is the only credible champion of the environment. The EU and the governments of its Member States should therefore support RA’s environmental NGOs in addition to the already existing technical cooperation projects that involve RA’s state agencies and harness the diplomatic pressure the EU and Member States occasionally exert on RA’s government officials.