EU Normative Socialisation in its Eastern Neighbourhood: Democratisation in Armenia through the European Neighbourhood Policy
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The EU, over time, has garnered international recognition and acclaim as a successful agent of democratisation in third countries. The transitions of Greece, Spain and Portugal in the 1980s coupled with the recent Eastern enlargements of the EU into erstwhile communist space attest to the success of the EU in fostering tangible democratisation. However, as the EU rapidly approaches its institutional capacity, questions remain as to its viability as an agent of democratisation in the post-enlargement setting where the EU can no longer offer full membership as an incentive for political and economic reform. This thesis attempts to examine the viability of the EU as a democratic facilitator in the post-enlargement setting, through examination of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), a policy described by the EU as ‘everything but institutions’. Two mechanisms of normative transfer relative to the ENP were identified in the literature: conditionality, where the EU attaches incentives for successful political and economic reform, and socialisation, a newer notion whereby norms are transferred via interaction through generating close links with domestic actors. It was ascertained that in the context of the ENP, socialisation represented the dominant mechanism for normative change; conditionality was still utilised as a mechanism, however its scope had reduced greatly. To illuminate the phenomenon of EU democratic promotion, the case study of Armenia was chosen, a small but politically intriguing state in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood which had experienced (as is the case with the majority of post-Soviet states) stagnation and regression of the democratisation process since independence. Two facets of the EU’s democratisation strategy inherent in the ENP were chosen as empirical research areas: free and fair elections and interaction with domestic civil society organisations (CSOs). Free and fair elections offered evaluation of the conditionality aspects of the ENP through examining the 2008 Armenian presidential election. Interaction with domestic Armenian CSOs presented a rich phenomenon to examine the impact of socialisation in the ENP through utilising a case study examining four democratically minded NGOs. Ultimately, this thesis contends that through the ENP, the EU can no longer effectively wield conditionality as a viable mechanism of normative change and currently lacks the tools or a suitable environment to initialise normative transfers through socialisation. Consequently, it is argued that the EU has had little effect in facilitating democratisation in Armenia since the advent of the ENP.