Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Europeanization through Socialization? the EU's Interaction with Civil Society Organizations in Armenia

Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Europeanization through Socialization? the EU's Interaction with Civil Society Organizations in Armenia

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper examines the European Union's interaction with civil society organizations in Armenia through the European Neighbourhood Policy as a potential example of normative socialization. Through examining the EU's interaction with domestic NGOs in Armenia, this paper offers an evaluation of the socialization mechanism coupled with a general critique of the EU's democratization policy in relation to civil society promotion. It is argued that while civil society promotion and interaction represents a potentially fruitful avenue for not only democratization but socialization strategies, the EU's utilization of Armenian civil society organizations as a target actor remains too ineffective to generate an environment conducive to the adoption and internalization of EU norms and rules.

Keywords: Armenia, civil society organizations, ENE EU, Europeanization, socialization

In the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), wherein the EU no longer incentivizes political and economic reform in its neighborhood with the promise of membership, a newer mechanism for normative transformation--known as socialization--has gained momentum in scholarly literature. (1) This paper examines the EU's democratic strategy with Armenia through the perspective of interaction with civil society organizations (CSOs). It is noted that civil society interaction and promotion has gained notable weight in the international community and in EU polices as a viable and fruitful avenue for achieving democratic gains. Furthermore, CSOs are argued to be resourceful targets for socialization initiatives and strategies. Consequently, this paper critiques the EU's interaction with domestic NGOs in Armenia in order to assess the EU's socializing ability in furthering Europeanization among domestic CSOs in the transitioning states of the Eastern Neighbourhood. Ultimately, the paper contends that the depth of the EU's interaction with Armenian CSOs has yet to reach a sufficient level at which socialization strategies can produce internalization of norms and roles by the recipient actor.

In examining the EU's socialization mechanism in the ENP by evaluating the EU's interaction with domestic CSOs, this paper will be developed with the following structure: First, it will engage with the literature on the role of civil society in the international context of democratization where a functioning civil society is now judged as an indelible component of successful democratization. Second, the pertinent theoretical literature related to socialization will be evaluated and shaped in order to specifically critique the EU's interaction with Armenian CSOs in the context of the ENP. Third, the place of civil society promotion and engagement in the democratic strategies and policies of the EU will be considered, with specific examination of the EIDHR instrument and the Eastern Partnership (EaP), both of which shape the ENP in relation to civil society engagement. Fourth, it will employ a case study of four domestic Armenian NGOs that intends to illuminate the EU's engagement CSOs on the ground. Lastly, the empirical findings of the case study will be reconnected with the theoretical measurements in order posit the effectiveness of socialization in the context of the ENP. Although this paper does not claim to offer robust findings related to socialization of CSOs in the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood, it intends to offer a snapshot of the role of socialization in the ENP, as well as contribute to the fledging socialization discourse related to the EU.

Civil Society and Democratization

The term "civil society" can be traced as far back as antiquity, discernible in the works of Aristotle (and others) who used it to describe a "social order of citizenship, one where men (rarely women) regulate their relationships and settle their disputes according to a system of laws; where civility reigns, and citizens take an active part in public life. …

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