The Republic of Armenia is part of the Eastern Partnership, which is an initiative that enables closer political, economic and cultural relations among the EU, its member states and 6 eastern European partners. Armenia gained independence from the Soviet Union on 21 September 1991. For seventy years Armenia had been under Soviet rule, which had imposed the Soviet system of governance based on “democratic centralism”. Since Armenia had been entrenched in the traditions of the highly centralised Soviet state, the introduction of a new territorial administrative division and the establishment of local self-governance proved to be rather difficult. The transition to a more decentralised model of governance was further impeded by a number of factors, including the war in Nagorno-Karabagh, the blockade and the economic crisis, which displaced the government’s attention from fundamental reforms for a new democratic state to the aforementioned factors.
implementation of a local self-government
A system of local self-government was finally established after the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia on 5 June 1995, by way of referendum. Following the adoption of the Constitution, there were three waves of reforms in local self-governance. The first wave marked the years 1995 – 1996 as a period in which the new territorial and administrative division was introduced and the Law on Local Self-Government was adopted, which allowed for the segregation of the local self-government from the state government for the first time in the history of the young Republic. The second wave was marked by the adoption of a new Law on Local Self-Government in 2002 and subsequent reforms reflected in the amended Constitution in 2005. Finally, the third wave was marked by the adoption of the Law on Local Self-Government in Yerevan in 2008, which allowed for changes in the entire system of local self-government.
The implementation of local self-government in Armenia is regulated by Articles 104-110 of Chapter 7 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, which is defined primarily by the Law on Local Self-Government. This law is based on the European Charter of Local Self- Government, which Armenia later ratified in 2002. In accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, the public administration bodies are divided into three groups: state administration, regional administration, and local self-government. However, it may be more accurate to say that the Armenian government has a two-tier structure, as administrative power is principally divided between the Central Government Ministry of Territorial Administration and the communities.
Marzes: Armenia’s administrative powers
In fact, the administrative power of the regions (marzes) is derived directly from the state, with marz governors implementing the territorial policy of the state government in the regions. Marzes are not a separate level of government since they do not have their own budgets nor elected officials, but are governed by marz governors, who are appointed and dismissed by government decrees, which are subject to ratification by the President of the Republic. The activities of the marz governor’s offices consist of implementing the territorial policies of the state government, supervising activities of the local governments, and ensuring the link between the state government and the local government authorities.
Within the bounds of the authority vested by the law, marz governors carry out the state’s regional policy in following areas: nance, urban development, housing and utilities, transport and road construction, agriculture and land use, education, healthcare, social security, culture and sports, nature and environmental protection, commerce, public catering, and services. Marz governors also coordinate the activities of regional services of the executive authority in the following areas: internal affairs and national security, defence, communication, energy, taxes, emergency situations, civil defence and others.
Communities play their part in local governance
Although most administrative power is held by the Central Government Ministry of Territorial Administration, some administrative power is exercised at the level of the communities, which can thus be considered a separate tier of government. This second tier of government exists in both rural and urban communities, which consists of one or more settlements. There are 1000 settlements in Armenia, which are unified into 926 communities, of which 48 are urban, 865 rural, and 12 considered as Yerevan district communities. Within the local government structure of the communities, the Community Council Elders (Avagani) and the Head of the Community (often referred to as a Mayor) play major roles, as they comprise the local decision-making bodies. They are elected for a four-year term by secret ballot on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage in accordance to the law.
Together, they comprise the local administration and fulfill the following responsibilities: “to provide for the rights of citizens and the interests of local self-government; to provide local development planning; to manage financial matters and community property; to implement projects and achieve strategic goals; to define, calculate, and forecast citizen needs, and prepare the relevant draft resolutions; to assign resources for public services; and to supervise the implementation of the four-year development plans”.
The finances at the level of the communities are heavily dependent on state budget transfers, which often comprise over fifty percent of local budget revenues, and are regulated by the Law On Financial Equalization, which was promulgated in 1998.
The reforms that were made in the Constitution in 2005 are a reaction to the provisions and proposals set out within the framework of cooperation between the Republic and the Council of Europe. These changes aim to foster the improvement of local self-government, democratisation and correspondence of the legislation according to the principles of European Charter of Local Self-Government.
by Susannah GO
The Report on the state of Regionalisation in Europe.
More than 40 experts contributed to this work, by delivering detailed reports about the state of regionalisation and multilevel governance in chosen European countries. The study covers 41 countries, and each country report is based on a similar structure, thereby allowing a comparative approach among all studied countries.
- The first part of the report gives the political impetus from the main European stakeholders
- The second part of this report entails a summarised version of the country reports. The objective is to provide interested readers with a short overview of the main features of regionalisation in various European countries. The complete versions of the country reports are available on the AER website, under LINK
- The third part provides a thematic approach based on the main findings delivered by the country reports and the current state of regionalisation in Europe. The trends and outlooks lead to open questions on the future of the regions in the European landscape, and more broadly on the role of subnational authorities in the shaping of the continent.
- The fourth part gives the floor to the actual regional decision-makers in Europe, across a series of interviews and statements by Presidents, Vice-Presidents and elected representatives of the European regions.
Over the next months, we will be focusing on a different European country’s approach to regionalisation. During these months, look out for #RoR2017 on Twitter and/or Facebook and follow us at @europeanregions.
Strong European regions are a pathway to a stronger Europe.