In 2007 the Armenian government ratified the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. According to the Convention, each participant country “ensures artists, cultural professionals, practitioners and citizens worldwide can create, produce, disseminate and enjoy a broad range of cultural goods, services and activities, including their own.” The Convention attracts special attention to cultural expressions of minorities and various social groups.
According to the last census (2011), the national minorities in Armenia make up 1.9% of the country’s population; Yezidis prevail (62%).
According to this census, the national composition of the population of the Republic of Armenia is as follows:
Table 1: Population of the Republic of Armenia by Ethnicity, 2011
|Armenians||2 961 801|
|Total||3 018 854|
In line with the Constitution, citizens of Armenia who belong to national minorities have the right to preserve and develop their own customs, language, culture and religious liberties. These rights are reflected in a number of laws, which are being strengthened. The policy on national minorities is based on three fundamental principles:
- to promote the preservation of ethnical identity and development of ethnical culture;
- to prevent any ethnical discrimination; and
- to promote the full integration of the non-Armenian population into the society of Armenia.
The adoption of international agreements, the necessary amendments and insertions made to the laws of Armenia, as well as the operation of programmes promoting integration, are directed at the implementation of the above three principles.
Under the Law on Fundamentals of Cultural Legislation passed in 2002, Armenia supports the cultural identity protection and development of national minorities residing on its territory.
Armenia has joined a number of international and intergovernmental treaties that ensure and protect the multicultural environment of national and language minorities, including the Framework Convention on the Rights of National Minorities and the European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages. They are implemented in Armenia both by national legislation and by including them in cultural, educational, informational and other programmes. Armenia has also passed the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organisations. A number of non-governmental organisations operate initiatives to benefit national and religious communities.
At present, state support is provided for education in national (mother) languages, for the following minorities: Russians, Yazidis, Kurds, Assyrians, partially Greeks, Poles, Germans, and Ukrainians – in the programmes of Armenian higher educational institutions. There are regular radio programmes in Kurdish, Yazidi, Russian, Assyrian, and Georgian languages, which are realised with state support. In the cultural sphere, organisations that function in the educational-cultural development sphere also receive financial and organisational support. The legislative amendments for the protection and development of ethnic identity of non-Armenian residents are ongoing.
In recent years, a number of cultural institutions and cultural centres for national minorities were opened in Armenia. Priorities in this sphere include support for ethnic media (about 12 newspapers and magazines are being published in Armenia through communities of ethnic minorities), preservation and promotion of ethnic cultures through publication of books, making films, organisation of art festivals and rehabilitation of historical and cultural monuments (cemeteries, religious worship sites, etc).
Cultural diversity in Armenia is also represented by the religious diversity. The Constitution provides freedom of religion (article 23). Currently there are 14 different denominations and churches in Armenia, each having its own religious culture, mentality, specifics of everyday life, and centres of social and cultural life.