“Since 1993, the Republic has received grants and loans from international monetary and lending institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, totalling more than $1 billion (USD). In addition, since 1992, the United States alone directed more than $1.6 billion (USD) in aid to Armenia. Although the relationship with the United States is a close one and Diaspora Armenians defend Armenia’s interests in the United States, Armenia also maintains close ties with Russia and Iran –strategic alignments that provide a buffer from the hostility of its Turkish and Azeri neighbours.”
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia declared its independence on the basis of a plebiscite. But the initial euphoria was short-lived as relations with neighbouring Azerbaijan got strained, leading to military conflict first and later to economic sanctions from the neighbour to the East. Its neighbour to the West, Turkey, also imposed an embargo, “which interrupted its communications, transport, and energy supply links with Russia and the wider world” and strangled the Armenian economy. This tiny former communist nation also endured a traumatic experience when Members of its Parliament were assassinated during a legislative session during live TV coverage. The conflict persisted until 1994, when a ceasefire was signed under the guidance of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group. But by this time, plenty of damage has happened. The Azeri population of the country was nearly wiped out and it occupied a fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory (as recognized by international law). Armenia also suffered a “devastating earthquake in 1988 that killed 25,000 people. The energy crisis that began with the 1989 imposition of the blockade contributed to a ruinous shrinkage of its economy, epitomized by a 60% decrease in GDP between 1991 and 1993. The energy crisis ended only with the reopening of the Medzamor nuclear plant in 1995.” 
Hence, it is easy to see why the process of constitutional change has not received due attention. The problems faced by Armenia as it tried to pull away from its Soviet past and charter a new course for its future is typical of problems faced by other former communist nations in Eastern Europe. It is factors such as these that has stalled or protracted the process of constitutional engineering. Adding complexity to the much needed constitutional engineering process is the standards expected by the EU club. In order for former communist countries to qualify for joining the European Union, they first need to have stable, democratic institutions in place. Conversely, it could be argued that joining the EU is a first step toward fostering democratic practices internally. Indeed, it is a positive development that most of the recently included batch of 10 countries, namely, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus and Malta, previously belonged to the Soviet bloc. Without a stable and secure domestic environment, it would be an uphill task for these countries to meet the mandates that will be set out in the impending EU constitution. The challenge of Constitutional engineering at the national level has parallels with the larger project. And for the 10 countries mentioned above, the problem areas are similar as they pull away from their forty year experimentation with communism. These countries, which pale in comparison to the economic prowess of Britain, France and Germany will have to abide by the diktats of the bigger players within the Union. They are also beset by political manoeuvrings internally, where the plutocratic class of the Soviet era is bent on preserving its privileges.
But this is too early to lose hope for meaningful reforms in the region. There are some positive developments as well, which should encourage further earnest efforts toward constitutional engineering. In some cases, useful institutions and ideas from the Soviet era have been retained and nurtured under the democratic framework. One such synthesis is the notion of ‘semipresidentialism’. The executive diarchies that existed under Communist one-party regimes is thought to have provided the template for semipresidential constitutional arrangements after the fall of Berlin Wall. Indeed, semipresidentialism “is somewhat similar to Soviet administrative law, in that executive power is divided into strategic and managerial functions. In the Soviet Union, these functions were run by the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the government, respectively. It is thus a typically Eurasian, natural development from Communist executive diarchy to post-communist semipresidentialism.”