Armenia Transformation Strategy 2050 Briefly Explained

At an event on Monday timed to coincide with the 29th anniversary of Armenia’s Declaration of Independence, PM Nikol Pashinyan unveiled his government’s long-promised development strategy. The roadmap entitled Armenia Transformation Strategy 2050 lays out the Armenian State’s long-term socio-economic, educational and human development objectives for the next 30-year period. 

At an intimate TED-style conference attended by key government officials, members of the press and prominent civil society figures, Pashinyan laid out a vision for the country designed to tackle poverty, raise real wages, encourage repatriation and establish a green, knowledge-based sustainable economy. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from Monday’s unveiling:

Establishing development targets

The transformation strategy essentially functions as a whitepaper laying out a vision for Armenia’s future development over the next 30 years. These development targets act as guidelines but do commit future governments to developing policies designed to meet them. These targets can be adjusted over time to ensure that attaining them remains a realistic proposition.

On the eve of three decades since Armenia secured independence from the Soviet Union, Pashinyan lamented the oversight by the country’s founders in developing a 30-year vision of their own, which, he surmises, left the country with an unclear vision and even fewer resources on how to achieve it. 

The most elaborate development strategy proposed at the time, dubbed Armenia 2020, came not from government policy-makers, but from the private think-tank IDeA Foundation, helmed by philanthropists Nubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan. Their proposed strategic initiative focused on developing the country’s business environment, institutions and policies, financial market and availability of capital, infrastructure and human capital. It was later updated as Armenia 2030.

The current government’s Transformation Strategy shares several commonalities with the previously-proposed initiative, though Pashinyan insists that sustainable development could only be achieved through a three-pronged strategy engaging government reform, investments into the knowledge economy and inclusive social participation. These three pillars form a foundation upon which, Pashinyan hopes, a long-term transformation strategy would be developed which addresses national identity, national objectives, social need and comprehensive change.

Thus, the overall objective as stated in this latest transformation strategy can be summarized as follows: the advancement of an Armenian society which provides its citizens with security, equality, freedom, dignity and progress.

Changing the narrative on Armenia

In the 29 years since regaining independence, Armenia has continued to struggle with the legacies of chronic mismanagement, corruption, sustained brain drain and a sluggish de-industrializing economy. Despite some success, roughly a quarter of the population continues to live under the poverty line; average life expectancy remains below 75 years while others continue to look abroad for opportunity.

Yet Armenia has an obligation to the Armenian people around the world to provide them with the protections of a sovereign state, an inviting place to live, fulfilling working culture along with a clean and sustainable environment. 

In order to fulfill this promise to the Armenian people, Armenia Transformation Strategy 2050 commits the State to tackle poverty through job creation, raising real wages for the working poor and investing into a knowledge-based innovative economy which prioritizes market-oriented education reform. “Learning must become a national lifestyle,” read the Prime Minister’s slide. Armenia would also encourage the development of a green digital economy powered by renewable energy.

Acknowledging the underutilized potential of women in a traditionally patriarchal society, the strategy envisages the structural rehabilitation of institutional mechanisms to encourage the involvement of women in every aspect of Armenian professional life from governance to defense and business.

16 paths to a better Armenia by 2050

In order to provide a guideline for policy-making in the future, the strategy identifies 16 development objectives which cover most aspects of life in the country. In order to be considered successful by 2050, government policies should produce:

  1. Educated and opinionated citizens
  2. Well-defended borders
  3. Effective and accountable governance
  4. Healthy and safe citizens
  5. Large and prosperous families
  6. Rule of law
  7. Export-oriented manufacturing base
  8. Clean and green environment
  9. Sustainable regional development
  10. Productive and responsible agriculture
  11. Large-scale repatriation and integration
  12. Globally connected 
  13. Renewable and accessible energy
  14. Attractive for industry
  15. Knowledge-based economy
  16. Recognized, respected and welcoming 

Setting the bar too high?

If the 16 development goals are meant to offer a sense of direction for future policymakers, the government’s strategy also includes some peculiarly specific milestones. Here are some of the more ambitious targets listed in the strategy:

By 2050, Armenia should be home to a population of five million with an average life expectancy exceeding 90, whose youth would be educated at three of the world’s top 200 universities. Their graduates would be among the 10-thousand employees of at least five technology companies with an individual market cap exceeding $10 billion. The addition of nearly 1.5 million jobs over the next three decades and a seven-fold increase in median real wages over the same period would greatly reduce chronic poverty in the country.

Other milestones scheduled for the next 30 years include winning at least one UEFA or FIFA cup, collecting 25 Olympic medals and welcoming some 15-million tourists annually. 

Some of these stated objectives are not new. Pashinyan had been criticized in the past for setting what some considered to be impractical and far-fetched growth targets rather than focusing on incremental and more achievable goals. It’s also unclear whether some of these are meant to be tongue-in-cheek statements meant to encourage discussion on the topics. However, Pashinyan has defended these milestones as representing a more long-term development vision and an example to follow rather than concrete objectives. 

Armenia Transformation Strategy 2050 is also meant to be flexible and adaptable to the changing realities that the country will likely face in the coming years. However, with the global COVID-19 pandemic abruptly cutting years of robust economic growth, sound policy making, activist investment, sustainable energy production and far-reaching education reform might be more crucial than ever for future-proofing Armenia’s development strategy.

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Raffi Elliott

Columnist & Armenia Correspondent
Raffi Elliott is a Canadian-Armenian political risk analyst and journalist based in Yerevan, Armenia. As correspondent and columnist for the Armenian Weekly, he covers socioeconomic, political, business and diplomatic issues in Armenia, with occasional thoughts on culture and urbanism.

3 Comments

  1. Pashinyan has too broad of a vision . It’s good if Armenia achieves everything on this list it will be one of the best countries to live in in the World . It would exceed the standards of living of wealthy parts of the US or European welfare states. However, resources are limited and a lot of Armenia’s problems are geopolitical. For example Armenia is excessively militarized due to geopolitical tensions . All those resources that go into the military are not spent on education or social programs . The point is a lot of Armenia’s future prospects will depend on what happens geopolitically . Because economically Armenia has the potential to achieve good levels of developement .

  2. Thank you Raffi for drawing our attention to this important document.
    You mentioned that its hour & half presentation was made Tedex style. I think it was beautifully done. The camera work and the audio are excellent and unlike what you get in some youtube dissemination of intellectual presentations one can very clearly follow Pashinyan and his arguments here. In fact it shows Pashinyan’s excellent communications skills.
    I am sure that you are aware that David Tavadian of http://www.futures-studio.org has penned an excellent positive critique of this strategy and has made suggestions for improvement which are well worth incorporating in my opinion.

  3. I’ve been preaching the same message for the last 30 years. Follow the Israeli game plan. It really works.Duel citizenship! Take control of Armenia away from the oligarchs Give the diaspora a somewhat equal footing and let them have a feeling of participation. Sell Armenia bonds to the diaspora. Look at whats happening in Israel! It’s all there, game plan and all. Then maybe next time when you visit Armenia as a tourist, you can say you’ve got skin in the game. Just because this plan wasn’t implemented 30 years ago, doesn’t mean its too late. Armenia, what’s good for the goose is good for the groong!

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