My interview with former Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian was just posted on Hetq Online. In our conversation he talked about political life after splitting from the Armenian National Congress, the platform of the Free Democrats party and its alliance with Heritage, the importance of free and fair parliamentary elections in Armenia, and mobilizing the Armenian youth.
The Armenian Observer just published a guest post of mine about how I think dog walking can promote a sense of proaction in Armenian society. Here’s an excerpt:
Our walks lead me to believe, with a conviction stronger than ever, that if Armenians find the motivation that they so desperate seek to stand and make a difference – whatever that change may turn out to inevitably be – it can certainly happen. With the right stimulus at the appropriate moment, the concerns of many can be properly addressed in their favor. Armenia seems to go through periods of rage against the establishment, then dormancy; there isn’t a consistent, proactive struggle on a impressive, thought provoking level. I think many are growing weary of monthly or bimonthly “demonstrations” where all attendees hear are diatribes based on a list of general complaints.
You can read The Armenian Observer blog here.
The summer is upon us, which means that things will begin slowing down in Yerevan politically and socially, but not necessarily culturally. There’s always plenty to do for social butterflies in the summer months, plenty of cafes to visit, concerts to attend and distractions to take your attention away from things that really matter.
Liberty Square has become a giant playground for preschoolers–the authorities are doing everything possible to prevent peaceful political demonstrations from happening there. In the meantime, cafes galore where you can watch the World Cup soccer games while drinking a beer or two and even place bets with the “international bookmakers” doing business here. We have another few weeks of that to go.
In the meantime, political life will begin to drop off for the summer, on both ends of the spectrum. The entire government even shuts down during late summer for a couple of weeks, something that really perplexes me. Even the press takes a break–all newspapers and even online news sources stop working because there’s nothing apparently to report. That is of course absurd but that’s the way things work in a tiny country of barely 3 million people.
The Karabagh peace process will not go anywhere this year after the Azerbaijani-initiated skirmishes on the border on Saturday, half a day after both Presidents Serge Sarkisian and Illham Aliev met with Dmitry Medvedev in St. Petersburg. Yet on a positive note, I’ve been reading about conferences being held where Armenian and Azerbaijani university students meet to get to know one another and share experiences, in an effort to reach out and find some kind of solution to the conflict through the channels of civil society. Based on what they have written, in other words their own personal accounts, their efforts are naive and impractical at best.
Indeed, there should be discussion between the two societies, but at the end of the day, the Azerbaijanis expect things to go back to the status quo of the Soviet era–in other words for Karabagh to once again be placed under Azerbaijani control (naturally with the Armenian-occupied lands returned) in exchange for “the highest level of autonomy,” and I am pretty sure that the younger Azerbaijani generation expects the same, having been thoroughly brainwashed. So don’t necessarily understand what the Armenian and Azerbaijani youth groups are aiming to achieve through casual dialogue and partying (again, according to what I read).
Having said that, I really have no grounds for criticizing the youth because there needs to be discussion, the two sides must talk to one another through unofficial channels, now more than ever. My concern is–to what end?
I couldn’t find any more news about Gohar’s case. If anyone reading this blog has, please leave a comment with a link to the article you’ve found.