Armenia Country Report
In April 2018, President Serzh Sargsyan steps down as his second term in office expires and, for the first time, parliament will elect his replacement. This will mark the culmination of Armenian political system's transition to a parliamentary model in accordance with the constitutional changes adopted in the nationwide referendum in December 2015, which envisions strengthening the Prime Minister at the expense of the President, who becomes a symbolic figurehead with severely curtailed authority. Sargsyan indicated that he intends to remain influential in Armenian politics, but it is unclear if he plans to assume the premiership.
Armenia's operational environment is investor-friendly, especially in the capital Yerevan, however there are number of obstacles including poor infrastructure, high levels of bureaucracy and wide-scale corruption. Given a lack of political will to address corruption, the problem is likely to persist. The blockade imposed by Turkey and Azerbaijan since early 1990s restricts the movement of people, goods and capital in and out of the landlocked country. Armenia has a well-qualified multilingual workforce. Owing to the large Armenian diaspora, there is a significant returnee expatriate community with Western expertise and skills.
Terrorism risks are low in Armenia compared to the neighbouring countries in the region. Capture of the police station in Yerevan by "Sasna Tsrer" nationalist militants in July 2016 was an extraordinary event for Armenia. Much of the terrorist activity is connected to organised crime, but local politicians are also targeted with the use of firearms or small and crude IEDs being the preferred methods. Terrorist attacks against soft targets such as public transport, protest rallies or shopping malls have not occurred in Armenia since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The unresolved conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh in neighboring Azerbaijan represents the key war risk for Armenia. While most of ceasefire violations occur along the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact, the situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border also remains tense with frequent cross-border skirmishes. However, even if large-scale hostilities break out in Nagorno-Karabakh, as was the case in April 2016, they are unlikely to spill over into Armenia proper. This is due to the deterrent impact of Russia's military presence in Armenia, which is based on bilateral defense commitment. In addition Armenia possesses limited ballistic missile arsenal capable of destroying Azerbaijan's critical infrastructure, which serves as an additional tactical deterrent.
Protests are common in Yerevan, mostly in the city centre and involving up to several thousand people. Political protests are likely to intensify ahead of the presidential election on 2 March 2018 and election of Prime Minister on 2 May 2018, when for the first time Armenian legislature will vote for both instead of the public . Economic protests tend to stem from local grievances and sometimes entail temporary road blockades. When public discontent is driven by both political and economic reasons combined, the protests can become large, such as rallies against higher electricity prices in mid-2015.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Armenia is located in a strong seismic zone, and, as such, is vulnerable to earthquakes and subsequent landslides. In 1998, an earthquake registering a magnitude of 6.8 devastated the Spitak region, leaving between 25,000 and 100,000 dead. There are reportedly over 3500 landslide-risk sites in Armenia.
The country is also prone to droughts and floods.
Traveling in the South Caucasus can be unpredictable and infrastructure is sometimes in a poor state of repair, particularly in the coldest months (November to February). The local standard of driving is poor; be prepared for drivers who drive recklessly and flout traffic laws. Finally, note that the route to neighboring Georgia from Yerevan, which goes through the cities of Vanadzor, Alaverdi, and Bagratashen, is closed for maintenance from September 2016 through 2018 at minimum.
Public transport is often overcrowded and poorly maintained. If you have to travel by train, secure your valuables, do not leave the compartment unattended, and lock the door from the inside.
Aviation security standards in Armenia are acceptable.
Armenia's climate is continental. Summers are hot and dry in the plains and winters are harsh throughout the country, brutal in the reliefs (snow from December to April). The mountains receive the highest levels of precipitation. Days tend to be sunny all year long.
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