Armenia Country Report
The peaceful nationwide civil disobedience campaign led by the opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan in April resulted in historic political changes in Armenia. Under public pressure, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), which controlled a majority of 58 mandates in the 105-seat parliament, acquiesced and did not obstruct the election of Pashinyan as Prime Minister on 8 May. Pashinyan's top priority is to organise early general elections, which will be held by June 2019 in accordance with the new government programme that was endorsed by the legislature on 7 June. Meanwhile the unity within RPA is crumbling as reflected by the departure of six MPs, which resulted in its loss of majority in the parliament. Public opinion polls indicate that Pashinyan's party Yelq is a favourite.
Armenia's operational environment is investor-friendly, especially in Yerevan, however there are obstacles including poor infrastructure, high levels of bureaucracy and wide-scale corruption. In contrast with the previous government, which resigned in April 2018 under pressure from the peaceful nationwide civil disobedience campaign, the cabinet led by the former opposition MP Nikol Pashinyan has formulated comprehensive anti-corruption initiatives. Already, foreign businesses report a considerable reduction in time spent on customs clearance procedures. Armenia's landlocked position is compounded by a border blockade imposed by Turkey and Azerbaijan since the early 1990s.
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. The attack by the nationalist militants on the Armenian parliament in October 1999, which resulted in eight people dead, including the prime minister and speaker, was anomalous and since then Armenia has not witnessed anything similar.
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 Armenia and Yerevan is their focal point, as demonstrated by the peaceful civil disobedience campaign in April 2018, which forced Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan and his government to resign. The magnitude of these protests was unprecedented as the turnout was in tens of thousands, paralysing most of central Yerevan. Economic protests tend to stem from local grievances and sometimes entail temporary road blockades.
Vaccines Required to Enter the Country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
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.
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz