Social Democracy in Practice: Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation Promises Something New in Armenia

YEREVAN—The Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation (HMF), a social democratic think-tank founded in 2009, is a non-profit Armenian foundation committed to the development and advancement of public policy issues that espouse the basic values of social democracy through education, training, research, and regional and international cooperation.

The aims of the foundation are to contribute to and actively promote a comprehensive national, regional, and international dialogue focusing on current political, economic, and social developments and challenges, with a primary concentration on Armenia and the South Caucasus.

Among its many diverse projects, the HMF produces academic research papers to serve in political decision-making and policy, organizes conferences and round tables, publishes studies on social democracy, and conducts trainings for young political leaders. Since its creation, the HMF has initiated and executed several key projects.

In order to address a number of deeply rooted problems in the Republic of Armenia and ensure the development of social democracy, sufficient policy research needs to be developed. For this reason, the HMF, along with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation of Germany, conducted a groundbreaking study on social reform in Armenia. The purpose of the study is to present an alternative vision for social reform in the country by developing feasible, financially sustainable policy options in the areas of housing, unemployment, and health. Through a designated working group of experts focusing on each specific policy area, this study aims to implement the populations’ right to quality housing, employment, and accessible and affordable health care. The Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation is publishing the final policy paper in Armenian and English and will present it to government officials, political parties, academics, non-governmental organizations and foundations, and international organizations at a conference in Yerevan in November.

As an important means for the dissemination of social democratic principles, the HMF recently translated and published Foundations of Social Democracy. Originally printed in German, the book serves to provide individuals with a better understanding of the values, goals, and meaning of social democracy in the 21st century. The book is available at the HMF offices in Yerevan; a full electronic version will soon be available on

In May, with the clear understanding that the youth have a key role to play in the empowerment of the country, the HMF organized a comprehensive three-day training seminar for 20 young political leaders in Dilijan, Armenia. The training encompassed three main components for leadership building skills: Strategic Planning, Future Search, and World Cafe. The Strategic Planning session taught participants how to define the goals and objectives of the youth organizations they are active in, and how to find the most productive methods in implementing those goals. Later, the young leaders took part in Future Search, which outlined methods to develop alternative futures by finding diverse ways for solving problems. The final component, titled World Cafe, aimed to foster problem-solving dialogue in unconventional settings such as coffee shops. After three intensive days of training, participants left the seminar equipped with innovative techniques and a clearer vision of how to effectively work within their youth organizations.

Recently, the HMF received a grant from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to produce a six-part miniseries about the problems, challenges, and achievements of Armenian women, entitled “Women in Armenia.” Through these six half-hour segments, to be aired on Yerkir Media in the fall, the HMF plans to highlight the difficulties encountered by women in private and public life, while at the same time showcasing the positive effects women have had in the democratic development of their society. The segment topics to be covered include women in politics, women in business, women in armed conflict, domestic violence against women, sexual harassment against women, and women and health care.

In October 2011, the HMF will conduct a special training on social democracy focusing on the basics of social democracy; European social democracy in the last two decades; debates about the future of social democracy; and its relevance for Armenia. Christian Krell, an author of the book Foundations of Social Democracy, will lead the training with a co-trainer for political leaders in Yerevan. During the training, the current political and economic situation in Armenia will be discussed.

By conducting policy research, organizing training seminars, and other innovative projects in the future, the Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation will lay the foundations for long-term, systematic solutions to Armenia’s social, political, and economic problems, and will contribute to the development of a more transparent, accountable, equitable, and prosperous society.

For more information about the activities of the Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation, visit or find the foundation on Facebook.