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The dissatisfaction with the social conditions – where unemployment reached 20% of the working people – and the oppression faced by the opposition, led to the decline of Ter-Petrosan. The president resigned in March 1998, having been left behind by the leading personalities of his government employees. Robert Kocharyan – who was born in Nagorny Karabakh – won the second general election in the presidential election on March 30, after defeating former Communist Party leader Karen Demirchian. However, the election only concerned the occupation of the post until the end of the period in 1999.
Demirchian got revenge at the June 1999 parliamentary elections when he was elected President of Parliament with 43% of the vote. Closest rival was the Communist Party, which got 12% of the vote. But in October, an armed group – unrelated to the political parties – entered parliament, killing Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, Demirchian and several other MPs – including 2 ministers. The group took the other MPs hostage, but after President Kocharian entered into negotiations with the group, they decided to lay down the weapons and surrender, for personal guarantees. In November, President Aram Sarkissian nominated for the post of Prime Minister.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Provides latest population data about Armenia. Lists by Year from 1950 to 2020. Also includes major cities by population.
In February 2000, Armenia became a regular member of the Council of Europe. In the middle of the year, the European Parliament unanimously reaffirmed its 1987 resolution, saying that Turkey can only be admitted into the EU once it publicly acknowledges its responsibility for the genocide of the Armenian population in 1915-16.
Also in mid-2000, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Armenia. On that occasion, a treaty was signed giving the Russian army the right to defend Armenia’s borders with Turkey and Iran. This treaty was to take precedence over the establishment of a Joint Security Association consisting of Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It was formed 1 year later at a summit in Yerevan and cemented the countries’ military cooperation against Islamic extremism.
Several thousand people gathered in Yerevan in October 2001 to mark the two-year anniversary of the attack on parliament. They demanded the departure of President Kocharian, accusing him of hiding information about the violence and its backers.
Armenia joined the WTO in February 2003. In the same month, Kocharian was re-elected as president, and in May his support parties won a majority in the parliamentary elections. However, the leading opposition parties refused to acknowledge this result and accused the government of electoral fraud. There were arrests of supporters of opposition candidate Demirchian; both in the capital and inland. The Constitutional Court declared in a ruling that the arrests were a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. At the same time, the Council of Europe called for a revision of the administrative penal code stemming from the Soviet era.
Up to the country’s independence, the economy was based on the chemical industry, machinery, electronic products, processed foods and synthetic rubber. It was largely dependent on raw materials from the outside. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Soviet investment and support for industrialization also disappeared. The closure of the borders against Azerbaijan and Turkey was also a severe blow to the economy. The country’s deposits of coal, gas and oil are sparse and untapped.