Launching Armenia’s first Democracy Academy

“It is vital to unlock the potential of young people in politics, civic engagement, and leadership. This programme aims to achieve just that,” said Margarita Hakobyan, Executive Director of the OxYGen Foundation, whilst launching the Armenian Multiparty Democracy Academy (ARMDA).   

ARMDA is the localization of NIMD’s Democracy Schools in Armenia, thought out and implemented together with our new partner OxYGen. NIMD’s schools provide a safe space for individuals from diverse social and political backgrounds to engage in dialogue and exchange ideas on various issues of common interest. “We bring to the table a value-add in the form of democracy education and facilitation of dialogue as an honest and trusted broker. Given Armenia’s current political polarization and serious security challenges – this support has never been more critical to ensure Armenia’s democratic trajectory,” shares Armen Sahakyan, NIMD Armenia’s Country Director. 

As, despite current efforts to stimulate youth participation in Armenia, there remains a need for action from the youth and widespread youth apathy towards politics and political institutions. This was also visible in the low voter turnout, with only around 35% of young people turning out to vote in Armenia’s 2018 parliamentary elections.   

Through ARMDA, together with OxYGen we aim to address the apathy among youth and create more opportunities for young leaders. The Academy will equip young politicians with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to become influential leaders and advocates for democracy and civic engagement in Armenia – promoting a culture of inclusivity and democracy.   

The new class of ARMDA is a committed group of 25 youth, the inaugural class comprises of 40% individuals, 32% political party members, and 28% from Civil Society Organizations.  

The youth are the backbone of the school and by their graduation we hope to:  

  • promote multi-stakeholder dialogue, build trust and cooperation among politically aspiring youth from different backgrounds in Armenia through training and coaching, debates, political and civic initiatives. 
  • equip participants with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes through an in-depth training programme on democracy, political systems, and leadership to become effective leaders and advocates for democracy and civic engagement in their communities and at the national level. 
  • create a strong network of politically aspiring youth with diverse social and political background working based on mutual trust and cooperation for sustainable youth political participation and leadership in Armenia. 

We hope that this Academy will be a community where people with different backgrounds meet, where people have the opportunity to match different backgrounds, to understand one another, teach one another, and go forward together. Shared Ambassador Jaap Frederiks, Charge d’ Affairs of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Armenia during the celebrator opening.  


NIMD Executive director Thijs Berman echoed this sentiment, saying “you are the ones who will overcome the deep polarization in the country because you have learned to respect each other, to listen to each other and to see how you can find solutions bridging the divides, going beyond the divides and making this country together.” 

Political polarization and Dialogue is also one of the four modules this ARMDA cohort will cover, alongside Democracy and Political Parties, Civil Society and Public Participation and New technologies and public communication. Throughout their time in ARMDA, participants can also put their skills into practice through three informal debating sessions attended by politicians and policymakers. Additionally, a culminating Platform meeting in May will provide a platform for participants to present their perspectives and proposals. Stay tuned!