Dear Ruben! First of all, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share some ideas and thoughts with you while reviewing the draft of the article you submitted. The article itself is structured in a way enabling the reader to follow and understand it as an action plan or road map for Armenia’s future. It is hard to dispute or question all the points and problematic moments mentioned in a paper. In the attached file, there are some suggestions and insights that I would like to bring to your attention, hoping that some of them could trigger a new and interesting discussion of the paper you submitted.
ARMENIAN WORLD RELOADED: Tips for future policymakers
Armenia and the entire Armenian world are in a whirlpool of new dramatic geopolitical changes, which will undoubtedly affect the country’s future for many decades ahead. The multiple threats we are currently facing pose many questions to the country’s leadership and intellectual elite, pushing them to find critically important solutions, at least for short-term strategies for neutralization these threats and guaranteeing the country’s sustainable security. At the same time, many threats appear as external security issues, while there are those that are existent within the Armenian world and Armenia proper. We need to address these issues in order to understand their origins and evident consequences while trying to minimize the negative impact of the existing and upcoming threats and problems we are now facing.
How to record our history, especially current history?
One of the fundamental problems of our reality is that we continually fail to record and represent our past and current events properly without misuse and manipulations of the historical events and facts. This is a crucial issue we have to deal with, since any kind of manipulation while speaking and writing about history is a serious security issue for the country’s future. Unfortunately, manipulation of historical events, documents, existing realities and ongoing developments has recently become very natural. This has nothing to do with problems of censorship or pluralism. When academia of any country manipulates the history, especially the current history, then we have to deal with it as a serious security challenge. We consider this issue a fundamental problem of our reality, understanding the importance of impartial representation of the past and current developments as an essential prerequisite for establishing good governance and a nation state.
Soviet heritage and the challenge of the Armenian ‘deep state’
The Spring events of 2018, which took place in the very centre of Yerevan, consequently heralded the existence of yet another serious threat to Armenia’s future that we have to deal with and try by all means to overcome rather than take as a given. There is much evidence that we are now facing a new phenomenon in the constitution of the Armenian ‘deep state’. The problem of an institutional ‘deep state’ is very actual for many countries such as the USA, Russia, Turkey, etc., and we have to understand how we can survive as a nation when fundamental human rights and especially the right of free voting and public choice is now in question. Armenia is a small country, and the phenomenon of a deep state must be properly discussed and analyzed before developing any strategies for the country’s development and progress. Drawing multiple dividing lines inside Armenian society and the Diaspora itself appears to be an essential tool for the strategy of the Armenian deep state, which by every means tries to survive having no clear agenda and, more importantly, a chance to become an engine for the country’s progress.
Diaspora and Armenia relations
One of the most interesting approaches while formatting new Armenia-Diaspora relations could be positioning Armenia herself as the largest Armenian community among many others worldwide. Our current dichotomy of Armenian (Hayastanci) and diasporan (spyurqahaj) has a clear meaning of pejorative opposition. We have to eliminate the psychological and moral barriers and pose Armenia as primus inter pares, i.e. the first among equals. This could be an interesting starting point to move forward and begin real integration for merging the ideas and developing common strategies within the Armenian world. Armenia-Diaspora relations became a lost opportunity for 30-years. While trying to address these issues, we need to understand the origins of the existing atmosphere of no-trust, which, in my opinion, is an elite level crisis we still fail to overcome. I addressed this issue in one of my articles published in ‘Armenian Mirror Spectator’ back in September 2017. Unfortunately, many of my predictions have become reality. For reference, here is the article.
How to deal with archaic and rudimentary structures
We are talking about age-old mental and archaic structures which pose a heavy blow to any Armenian strategy of development and progress. Some structures, such as political parties in Diasporan communities, are very rudimentary and the crucial issue is how to absorb them while paving a way for future strategies. Diasporan community activities within the community, although building relations with Armenia, lost their way and became dysfunctional because of such outdated structures of governance and opposition, which in many cases turned into a bloody conflict and hatred within the communities. These structures, and the lack of understanding of current challenges, are an existential problem for the Armenian world, which is dispersed and has no institutional and solid long-term strategies to operate. A new generation should take up this challenge and develop a new agenda of community governance, interaction of the state structures of Armenia, thus, turning an effective tool of bringing all-Armenian interests within Diasporan communities and Armenia.
Secular Armenia and secular Diasporan communities
One of the principal aspects of the modernization and reformation of the Armenian world is what kind of role we want to reserve for the Armenian Apostolic Church. The latter is a conservative structure and, without any doubt, played a crucial role in preserving Armenian identity over many centuries. Today, we witness growing interest and interference of the Armenian Apostolic Church in many spheres of public life in Armenia, including education, charity, but also economics and politics. The instrumentalization of the church and its structures is yet another challenge for both Armenia and Diasporan communities. The divided church has a leading position in the communities and positions itself as the only structure responsible for governance and regulation within many communities. The Armenian Apostolic Church is also one of the main accumulators of financial resources of the communities. For many reasons, this status of the Armenian Apostolic Church and its divided/dual character is not a good prerequisite for Armenian modernization. Absolutely new and dynamic secular structures must be generated and empowered within the communities responsible for connection and interaction with Armenia and hosting counties.