DEMOGRAPHY AS A CRITICAL AREA (conceptual approaches)
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DEMOGRAPHY AS A CRITICAL AREA (conceptual approaches)
As it is known, after the collapse of the USSR the population of the Republic of Armenia (RoA) shrunk by 500,000 and currently it is about 3 million* 1. This reality is more than troubling and has to be perceived as one of the internal challenges that Armenia faces, or perhaps, even the main one. Among other things (the importance of which is not to be neglected, either) the decrease of population is first of all caused by emigration. There are multi-faceted reasons for this phenomenon, although the key one is the socioeconomic situation- Armenia’s GDP per capita ranks around 115th among the countries of the world according various rating lists published by international organizations2. Such situation is underlain by numerous interconnected cause-and-effect factors, including the collapse of Soviet Union and continuous war or semi-warlike reality to date, reduction of intellectual potential which resulted in formation of a not particularly efficient economic and governance system. Also, information policy shortcomings are to be especially noted, as they contribute to deterioration of moral/psychological situation, and so forth.
Exposing the origins and providing expert assessments of the mentioned problems are pressing matters, since the absence of such assessments fundamentally hampers adequate perception of reality and hence, the relevant response. Undoubtedly, the linear models, also known as «sustainable development» or «service society», are presently adopted in the country, which cannot solve the accumulated problems, as the 25-year experience of the Third Republic indicates. In turn, the non-linear models imply systemic and ideological restructuring, for which, unfortunately, there are no necessary prerequisites today.
'- Executive Director, Noravank Scientific Educational Foundation.
1 See, for example: http: //countrymeters. info/ru/Armenia 2014- 2 973 000
2 See, for example: http: //worldgeo. ru/lists/?id=29&-page=4
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Obviously, providing substantiated and applicable solutions to the mentioned problems requires complex studies and discussions among decision-makers, experts and representatives of the public. Therefore, the conceptual theses entailing solution of demographic problems in the context of intellectual resources development offered in this article are of somewhat intermediate nature.
At the same time, for whatever research and scenarios, the first step should be attempting to clarify the essence of concepts used in our information space to describe our realities, comprehend the meanings of commonly used terms, or in other words, trying to affix the «information coordinates» of our society. In particular, it is known that many concepts and their respective interpretations circulated in our information space not only form the present to a certain extent, but also outline the future .
1.1. The «Deindustrialized"and „QuasiInformation"Society
The current economic situation in Armenia till now is still defined as „transition phase“, and the socioeconomic decisions made are often subjected to the rationale of this concept. However, this cannot be a correct characterization, at least because the relevant „transitional reforms“ are implemented for about a quarter of a century, while the word „transitional“ implies limits for the period duration. Sometimes the wording „developing economy“ is used, which again is not well justified and is more of a promotional jargon. It is inadequate to the realities, given the above mentioned GDP per capita, which showed no trend for improvement in the recent years.
In our opinion, in terms of the current economic situation, Armenia can be described as a „deindustrialized“ country: suffice it to say that various sources indicate a decline of industrial output in the RoA GDP from 40% to 20%, and in the latter the share hi-tech output has decreased considerably. This phenomenon is typical to a number of other post-Soviet countries, where the not-so-competitive and quite undiversified industrial complex was dismantled, but no new one was created instead. Belarus is an exception, where the „Chinese model“ was applied, but without its characteristic ideological and meritocratic content (see, for example ). After the Western sanctions Russia also tries to implement reindustrialization policy, as the self-sufficiency of the military-industrial complex has become a pressing matter. The term „deindustrialized“ also allows clarifying the „development status“ coordi-
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nates of the Armenian society. In media one may encounter a phrase that „the RoA is classified as a country with post-industrial or information society.“ Given the used terms, such phrase implies that creation of new knowledge/information is dominant in the society. Under normal development this definition would be justified, because even today Armenia ranks 75th (after Kuwait and ahead of Ethiopia) in the world by its scientific and technical activity1. However, this is mostly due to some of the traditions still remaining from the scientific, educational and technological system developed during the Soviet period, rather than any new achievements. Sadly, it can be stated that what occurs in Armenia in present is „multiplication“ of already known information rather than creation of the new information. Given that the society has lost its „industrial“ status, such situation can hardly be called „postindustrial“, and it follows that our society can now be described as „seemingly information“ society or „quasiinformation“ society .
The above-mentioned illusory concepts regarding the status of the economy and society are reminiscent of communism-era mythologems and evidently hinder adequate perception of realities, and hence, relevant decision-making. Mythologems also instigate viewpoints that demographic developments in Armenia are in line with global „trends“, „freedom of movement in the framework of human rights“, and therefore, emigration should not cause any serious concerns. Conclusions are completely different if our geopolitical realities and coordinates are considered in the context of the demographic problems.
1.2. The „Geopolitical Coordinates“ and Demographic Problems of Armenia
In terms of the significance of demographic problems the modern military and political realities are paramount for Armenia. This issue is reviewed in brief below.
As a result of known developments related to Azerbaijan and NKR, Armenia is in semi-war situation. In parallel to this, as the logic of the developments indicates, the turbulent belligerence in the neighboring Middle East will persist for quite long, which is also confirmed by predictions of top US officials2. According to
1 Рейтинг стран по уровню научно-исследовательской активности, http: //gtmarket. ru/ratings/scientific-and-technical-activity/info.
2 The US President sought authorization for the use of military force against Islamists for three years: see https: //www. whitehouse. gov/sites/daefault/files/docs/aumf_2 112 015. pdf. See details also in ?. ???]???]1??, „???? ??. ??? ???“, ??? #11/12, ?? 3, 2014:
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some scenarios, armed hostilities occurring in the region may spill over to Caucasus region. In addition, Russian-Ukrainian affairs are warlike, too. It has to be noted that there is an opinion in the analysts' community that the current developments main propagate into the global dimension . Thus it can be stated that in military/ political terms Armenia is apparently in an extremely risky zone, which implies, at least, maintaining a regular and combat-ready army [5, 6]. As it is known, this depends first of all on the country’s population.
Characteristically, although various international organizations forecast world population growth by 1.2 billion by 2030 to a total of 8.3 billion1, the UN predicted in 2012 that Armenia’s permanent population will drop to 2. 81 million by 2030. However, this prediction is based on an assumption that in 2010−2020 the emigration will comprise 10,000 people annually, and in 2020−2030 it will total at 5,000 annually. In fact, in the period between 2010 and 2013 the annual emigration from Armenia comprised 40,000. According to Samvel Manukyan, who is an expert in the area, if pertinent modification is applied to the UN migration estimates, the population of Armenia (which incidentally is smaller by 200,000 than the number of the people registered as permanent residents if the factor of migrant workers is considered) may in some scenarios be as low as 2 million by 2030 (see Samvel Manukyan’s article Industrial Development as Factor for Improvement Armenia’s Demographic Situation and Trends, and Chapter 2 of the study Research Program Aimed at Improvement of Demographic Situation of the Republic of Armenia).
Obviously, this number is not sufficient for forming armed forces adequate to the military situation and hence, for survival. It is important to consider that despite falsifications of demographic data done in neighboring Azerbaijan, the demographic situation in this country at any rate is much better and in the foreseeable future the population may exceed 8 million .
Thus, it has to be admitted that the logic of Armenian geopolitical realities prompts to ascribe a primaryimportance to the demographic problems from the perspective of national security (NS). Obviously, the realities in this aspect are in principle different from, say, those in European countries. Certainly, due to birth rate decline, aging, population structure change owing to migration from Africa and * 8
1 http: //eurasian-defence. ru/sites/default/files/DS/Documents/global-trends-2030-rus. pdf
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Asia, and some other demographic issues also have significance in the context of national security of these countries, but they do not bear the same degree of critical character, as it is in Armenia. It follows that the application of international experience and methodologies adopted in demographic studies is undoubtedly necessary, but not sufficient. As mentioned earlier, it appears demographic studies for on Armenia should first of all involve methodologies and relevant terminology pertaining to the NS.
1.3. Critical Areas and Infrastructores
Based on all of the above mentioned, with regard to the due importance of emigration in terms of the NS, in order to create an efficient methodology and toolkit for reducing emigration, it is worth to introduce the concept of „critical infrastructure“ (CI) in demography, which plays an important role in NS. This concept was first used1 by the American think-tank RAND Corporation i n an information security context . This term is understood as „systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to a country that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety.“ This matter was brought to forefront after 9/11 terrorist attack (see The USA PATRIOTAct of 20 012).
It has to be noted that based on specially developed methodology CIstatus has been assigned to several million facilities of various types in the USA (some of which are summarized in Table 1), and there are about 10 special laws, executive orders and presidential directives in this regard .
The concept of CIimplies special attention to these structures and ensuring their security though appropriate organizational, material, technical and other means3. Generally, the CIstructures stocktaking and control, as it is done not only in the USA, but also other leading countries such as Israel and Russia, is an urgent matter for Armenia.
1 It has to be noted though, that if not CI, then at least the idea of „critical spots“ had been used since antiquity, „Achilles heel“ being one of its formulations.
2 http: //www. justice. gov/archive/ll/highlights. htm
3 А. Кондратьев, „Современные тенденции в исследовании критической инфраструктуры в зарубежных CTpaHax, http: //pentagonus. ru/publ/sovremennye_tendencii_v_issledovanii_kriticheskoj_ infrastruk-tury_v_zarubezhnoj_stranakh_2012/19−1-0−2082.
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Protected critical infrastructures and assets of the USA and their quantitative indicators
Area Critical infrastructure facilities and assets Quantity
Agriculture and food Farms 1,912,000
Food-processing plants 87,000
Water resources Federal reservoirs 1,800
Municipal waste water facilities 1,600
Public Health Registered hospitals 5,800
Emergency services Localities 87,000
Defense industrial base Firms 250,000
Energy Power plants 2,800
Aviation Public airports 5,000
Passenger rail and railroads Major railroads 120,000 miles
Highways, trucking and busing Highway bridges 590,000
Oil and natural gas Pipelines 2,000,000 miles
Producing sites 300,000
Maritime Inland/coastal ports 300
Mass transit Major urban public transit operators 500
Banking and finance FDIC insured institutions 26,000
Chemical industry and hazardous materials Chemical plants 66,000
National monuments and icons Historic buildings 5,800
Nuclear power plants Commercial nuclear power plants 104
Government facilities Government owned/operated facilities 3,000
At the same time it appears appropriate to assign the status of critical not only to individual facilities and assets of a sector, but in emergency situations also to the sector as a whole, as it was done by us in relation to certain problems of information security (see ). Based on this logic, in the context of NS a status of critical must be assigned to the whole area of demographic processes. Such approach brings more urgency to finding out specific CIs in the critical area, ignoring which significantly
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increases emigration rates, whereas their improving and boosting considerably reduces emigration.
In many developed countries, such as the USA, the structures that underlie the state of affairs in demographics have not been included in the CI list, because the area itself is not in critical condition. However, this does not mean at all that the area lacks necessary attention. For instance, demographic problems are addressed as a complex in Israel (see ), where this area has traditionally received large attention, and the high level of economic development allows implementing mass repatriation programs. This is an urgent matter for Armenia as well, but it has to be considered that unfortunately, Armenia is not attractive yet for potential immigrants.
It is remarkable that in 1920s, when Armenia was in a difficult condition, a development strategy was adopted to address socioeconomic problems, including demographic ones. One of its key and decisive components was improvement of the country’s human capital and intellectual potential . Interestingly, in modern era the solution of demographic problems is tightly knitted with development strategy as well, the basis of which is human capital and intellectual potential (see ). These theoretical approaches were also explored earlier by the author .
It seems there is no doubt that without human capital with a necessary development level it is impossible to form the country’s technology sector in particular, that is not only industries with „tangible“ output (equipment and other products), but also those with „intangible“ ones (software or theoretical R& amp-D). A special role in technology sector is played by humanities area, particularly the so-called think-tank type structures that are able to develop political, public and other similar technologies and contribute to their implementation (see for example ).
It follows from the above-mentioned observations that institutions of technological type and those „nurturing“ the latter have to be classified as critical infrastructures and treated with special attention by the government.
At the same time it can be stated that without technological development the socioeconomic and CI structures development is unimaginable, which in turn constitutes a prerequisite for improvement of the demographic situation.
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1.4. Prerequisites of the Development Strategy
Development of technologies in the practical sense also needs substantiation and optimization. In this context it is worth to mention the following:
1. The historical experience of the Armenian society, especially the scientific and industrial traditions formed during the Second Republic period (that have been preserved to some extent1) indicate that there are certain preconditions for development of technology sector.
2. Given the scarcity of economic resources in Armenia, the technological development in the current stage through large-scale and long-term programs is hard to conceive. Hence, the results of planned technological projects should be foreseeable in the tactical prospect. Such realistic approaches will, inter alia, make these projects more attractive for the executive branch of the government and the business sector.
3. For this matter it is also very important to embed «multiplication and «spillover' mechanisms in the activities «code» of the created technological structures so that they self-develop and reproduce. Furthermore, efforts need to be applied towards enabling the sector’s improved or newly established structures to assume the role of socioeconomic and intellectual/psychological leader or «locomotive' at certain stage of their development, and thus create prerequisites for exponential development of the country.
The criteria for «correctness» of the above-mentioned approaches could be implementation of pilot micro-projects (creation of «active centers») and their comprehensive analysis in the context of the presented theses.
1.5. Technology Sector Classification in Practical Terms in accordance with the Phased Implementation of This Study
The three components of technological sector mentioned in section 1.3 herein, the «tangible», «intangible» and humanities areas, also need to be classified according to priority. Obviously, the general rationale of development strategy requires these areas to develop simultaneously and complement each other. However, for the
1 «Research program directed to improvement of the demographic situation in the Republic of Armenia»
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above mentioned reasons, in tactical dimension it necessary to choose the area, which should be priority in the current conditions. From this perspective the following circumstances have to be considered:
• Humanities technologies is an area where the R& amp-D may serve a basis for economic growth and improvement of demographics. However, the work implemented in this area and its benefits are currently hard to present in wording that would be attractive for the public, political elite and business sector. This is why the area of humanities is presently not suitable for presenting as a primary issue for development policy.
• The part of intangible (software or other theoretical R& amp-D) technologies related to computer and information area is in relatively good shape in the RoA. In addition, the community of this sector is quite well organized and capable of protecting its interests at various levels and platforms. Despite numerous existing problems, this area is able to proceed with strategic development at least to a minimal extent. Thus, in the first phase placing emphasis on this sector could be perceived as «repeating well-known clichds», and the public, as well as politicians may not sense it as an acute issue.
• Tangible technologies area is perhaps the most ignored one in our society and it apparently symbolizes the «deindustrialized» state of our country. Yet the results achieved in this sector could be tangible (also alluding to its name) for many layers of the society. The structures of this area are also characterized by multiplication and spillover mechanisms. Out of these considerations it seems that practical activities should start for this very sector.
In parallel to practical steps it is necessary to develop an integrated strategy for hi-tech development, create a database of hi-tech structures with pertinent special methodologies and form a legislative framework that would ensure optimal activities of the high technologies sector.
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References and Literature
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