When we started working on the manuscript At the Crossroads in January 2017, we intended to engage in a discussion all those concerned about the future of Armenia and the Armenian nation so that we would be able, through our joint efforts, to outline a vision of the future that was worth implementing. We hoped to discuss with our readers possible development models for the country and the nation, to weigh their strengths and weaknesses and, based on a thorough joint assessment, to suggest a model that could most effectively ensure prosperity, security, and preservation of our national identity in the 21st century. In our opinion, each of the possible development models needs to be analyzed from the perspective of the correlation between those three key components. We also wished to talk about the projects that we have been implementing for the last eighteen years with our partners and like-minded persons, and how these initiatives might fit into an overall picture of change that could bring us closer to making our dreams come true.
Our discussion paper did not claim to be a historical or sociological study. Nor did it offer a comprehensive political or macroeconomic analysis of today’s situation or provide detailed forecasts. We not so much gave answers as posed questions. Since we did not aspire to describe in detail the history of the Armenians, we did not address some of its most essential stages (the pre-Christian period, the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, the emergence of political parties, etc.). We deliberately avoided dealing with some important issues such as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the security of Armenia and Artsakh, Armenia’s foreign policy, and her relations with Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia, Georgia, Iran and other countries. Such matters could only have been covered comprehensively by involving the best experts. Besides, we believed that each problem, whether conflict resolution, international relations or the relationship with our Diaspora would require a different long-term solution, depending on the development model selected.
Prosperity, security, and preservation of our national identity
The initial manuscript was written before the Velvet Revolution in Armenia. Therefore, our analysis of the model of existence that evolved in the country after independence in 1991 is limited to the period to May 2018, when the Revolution was gaining momentum. We began the final stage of editing on the day Nikol Pashinyan and his supporters set out on their march from the city of Gyumri. Since then, we have not made substantive changes to the text, limiting ourselves to editorial improvements and correction of inaccuracies pointed out by our readers, for which we are grateful. Observing the rapid unfolding of the Revolution in the spring and summer of 2018, we started having doubts about the timeliness of our text. However, the reaction to it has dispelled those doubts. It turns out that the Velvet Revolution has amplified the need for an honest and open discussion about the future, for which it has created a favorable emotional climate.
In August 2018, we shared with relatively few friends and experts the first version of the manuscript that had been produced in Russian. In turn, those individuals recommended new readers to us, with many of whom we had not been acquainted earlier. The Armenian and English-language versions were finalized by December, thereby contributing to an increase in the number of initial readers. By now, their number has exceeded 1,500. They live in 52 countries of the world and represent various spheres of activity. Over one-third of them live in Armenia and Artsakh. A particularly important fact for us is that every fifth reader does not have Armenian roots.
The Velvet Revolution has amplified the need for an honest and open discussion about the future
As of today, we received about 300 written feedbacks (letters are still coming in), held more than 100 video conferences and 120 personal meetings with readers, organized 17 discussions in eight countries with more than 600 participants.
We are deeply grateful to our readers for a whole range of insightful comments and ideas, which have provided food for thought or have helped us to clarify our viewpoint. Many of these ideas will be reflected in the future book, and we are confident that they will make it more profound, multifaceted and direct.
We are grateful for all those who actively entered into the dialogue about what kind of Armenia we want to see in the 21st century. We are confident that in the aftermath of the Velvet Revolution, this issue has become highly topical. We hope that a serious and well-informed discussion will eventually turn into a joint elaboration of a long-term strategy for the development of the country and the nation. Therefore, we invite you to exchange ideas with us, with our readers and each other online and offline, including our discussion platform in Yerevan - Futures Studio on Baghramyan, 6.
We are grateful for all those who actively entered into the dialogue
Undoubtedly, everyone looks at the world differently and sometimes it can be difficult for us to find common ground but we are confident that dividing people into ‘us’ and ‘them’ and interacting only with those individuals whose way of thinking is very much like our own will lead only to an impasse. We, therefore, believe that a respectful, substantive dialogue about the choice of a development path can be constructive and, more importantly, productive. Simply put, despite differences in our assessments of the past and the present, we are quite capable of coming up with benchmarks for the future and of formulating an appropriate strategy that can be implemented through concrete step-by-step actions. However, this will only be possible if the strategy is based on a consensus between the various social groups both inside and outside Armenia, i.e. state and public figures, representatives of business, civil society, science and culture, Diaspora institutions, the clergy, etc., in a word, the majority of thinking people who hold the future of our country and our nation in their hearts. Only a strategy like that will be likely to consolidate the efforts and resources of the nation for breakthrough development.
Ruben Vardanyan, Nuné Alekyan, authors of the discussion paper “At the Crossroads”,
and Noubar Afeyan, co-author of the vision