Armenia's development and security can only be achieved through the revival of a strong scientific ecosystem
The members of the “Gituzh” initiative, started by a number of businessmen and entrepreneurs from the leading technological industry, recognize the importance of a strong scientific potential for the security and rapid development of the country. They call on the Government and the National Assembly to move beyond repeated rhetoric about the knowledge-based economy and take concrete actions. Specifically:
In 2021, increase the allocations provided by the state budget for scientific and scientific-technical activities by at least 50%, directing them towards financing targeted scientific topics.
Enshrine in the law regulating the field of science in the Republic of Armenia that state allocations for scientific and scientific-technical activities should be gradually increased according to the following schedule: in 2022, at least 2% of the budget; in 2023, at least 3% of the budget; starting from 2024, at least 4% of the budget (approximately 1% of GDP).
Only after completing the first and second actions, instruct the authorized state body in 2021 to conduct an inventory, analysis, develop a strategy, and initiate implementation.
Since Armenia’s independence, the state’s scientific policy has practically led to the near-elimination of science. For example:
Over the past 30 years, only about 0.25 percent of the annual GDP has been allocated to scientific research and experimental development. With this indicator, we are on par with Uganda and Burundi. In contrast, Burkina Faso spends 0.7% of its GDP, Iran – 0.8%, Singapore – 1.9%, and Turkey – 1%.
Due to the lack of suitable environments, conditions, and state-supported initiatives, the number of scientists has decreased by approximately 7-fold, especially due to brain drain. If in the past Armenia was one of the leading countries in the world with the number of scientists per million inhabitants, today our indicator is 2 times less than the European average.
In Armenia, 40% of researchers with scientific degrees and 50% of managers are at retirement age.
The so-called branch institutes engaged in applied research and experimental development, many of which were under the direct authority of state departments, have almost completely disappeared.
The average base salary of researchers is approximately 100,000 drams, which is almost half the average salary in Armenia. Two-thirds of the employees of the National Academy of Sciences receive the minimum wage.
The reputation of scientists in society has significantly declined, leading to disrespect, belittlement, and condescension.
While there are still a small number of devoted individuals in Armenia who continue to engage in scientific activities and achieve impressive results (Global Innovation Index 2020, page 218, “Scientific & technical articles/bn PPP$ GDP” indicator), it is impossible to attract our talented and creative youth to a scientific career in the current low-salary and unfavorable environment.
The first action we propose will:
Partially prevent the complete elimination of the remaining scientific potential.
Initiate the rejuvenation of science. Attract scientists, including repatriation, particularly in areas currently lacking in Armenia.
Develop and implement modern educational programs in universities to produce competitive and in-demand engineers.
Initiate the modernization of scientific infrastructure and make the system healthy.
With the second action we propose, Armenia will commit to becoming a safe, knowledge-driven, and value-added country—the only path to survival and development in the 21st century. This commitment and its implementation will result in a strong human capital, high-quality higher education, highly qualified specialists, a constant flow of intellectual property into the economy, high technological and innovative international rankings, attractiveness, and ultimately, a strong economy and a robust military.
The sequence of these three actions is due to the fact that we no longer have time, and only after concrete steps and the state’s commitment will it be possible to at least partially resolve the thirty-year-old antagonism between state bodies and the scientific community, creating a healthy environment of mutual understanding and cooperation, gaining allies, and working together to develop and implement strategies.
To envision a strong and competitive future for Armenia, it is necessary to acknowledge the mistakes and omissions of the past. Aren’t the irreversible losses and consequences of the 44-day Artsakh war sobering enough for us to realize, once and for all, that a powerful economy and military industry require scientific power? We need high-quality scientists and engineers armed with the latest knowledge, and the state must create conditions and an environment conducive to scientific advancement, which can be achieved through the proper redistribution of taxes paid by us. If we fail to recognize this simple truth today, tomorrow may indeed be too late.