The public opinion polls conducted on behalf of the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Armenia among over 1,500 permanent residents of the country aged above 18 in January-March 2023 reveal that while as many as 93 percent of Armenians in 2019 considered relations with Russia to be “good” and only 6 percent viewed them as “bad”, that ratio has changed to 50 and 49 percent, respectively, this year.
The trend of the perception of “deteriorating relations” with Russia began after the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh in which, according to observers, Armenians largely felt Russia should have provided more support to Armenia, its strategic political and military ally in the region. The IRI poll shows that it continued in 2022, the year when Russia invaded Ukraine, as Armenians began to look more to other countries as their main security partners.
According to the latest survey, while 54 and 52 percent of Armenians, respectively, consider Iran and France as their “most important security partners”, only half of them now view Russia as such.
France, Iran and the United States are also viewed as the top three “most important political partners for Armenia” by 75, 67 and 52 percent of respondents, accordingly, while Russia is only fourth in the list with 50 percent.
Interestingly, while Azerbaijan and Turkey, with which Armenia has had bad relations for decades because of Nagorno-Karabakh wars and other historical feuds, are still viewed as the “greatest political threat” to Armenia by most Armenians (93 and 89 percent, respectively), as many as 24 percent of Armenians said they also consider Russia, a formal ally, as such a threat.
In contrast, according to the poll, only 3 and 2 percent of Armenians called the United States and the European Union, respectively, as the “greatest political threat” to their country, while 7 percent said that Ukraine posed such a threat.
While 5 percent of Armenians viewed relations with Turkey as “good” and 91 percent viewed them as “bad” in December 2021, a month before Yerevan and Ankara formally embarked on their latest attempt to normalize relations, the current ratio, according to the IRI poll, stands at 23 to 75 percent, respectively.
Generally, 52 percent of respondents in the poll said that they believed Armenia is heading in the “wrong direction,” while 36 percent said the country was on the right track.
A total of 60 percent of respondents in the poll named “national security” and “border issues” as the main problems Armenia is currently facing. Economy and unemployment was mentioned by only 27 percent of the respondents.
The survey also shows that the level of support for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his ruling Civil Contract party remains almost as strong as a year ago.
A total of 14 percent of respondents named Pashinian as the most trusted politician in Armenia, with only 2 percent naming ex-President Robert Kocharian, Pashinian’s top rival in the 2021 early parliamentary elections, as such.
A total of 21 percent of respondents, compared to 25 percent in June 2022, said that they would vote for Civil Contract if national parliamentary elections were held next Sunday. The number of those ready to vote for Kocharian’s Hayastan (Armenia) Alliance has dropped from 8 percent last year to 5 percent today.
According to respondents of the poll, the biggest successes of the Pashinian government during the last six months were “development of diplomatic relations” and “improvement of roads”, while the biggest failures in the same period were the closure by Azerbaijan of the Lachin Corridor that links Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and the “foiling of the Karabakh issue.”