Alexander Auzan
Doctor of Economics, Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Lomonosov Moscow State University

The project “At the Crossroads” captivates with the greatness of the idea: an attempt to look at the development of a country and ethnic group as a long evolutionary development of values, state practices, economy, and all that matters to assess the past and try to look into the future.

It seems to me that the main success in this study is not only the collection of a huge and interesting material, but also the rigid formulation of the central problem. In the language of institutional economics, according to the authors, such a social contract took shape in Armenia in post-Soviet times – that is, an exchange of expectations between the authorities and the population regarding the basic property rights and freedoms, – which creates negative trends in the country’s development and a problem for the entire ethnic group as a whole. Having received a significant investment and innovative resource in the Soviet times, post-Soviet Armenia, having achieved national independence, does not make use of and develop this resource. On the contrary, a system has actually developed, where a decrease in the country’s population through assistance from the Diaspora contributes to an increase in the capacity of the Government of the Republic. This type of a social contract, of course, leads to a dead end.

In search of new models that Armenia could accept, the list of options that the authors have already found would be more interesting and convincing if it was supplemented with an analysis of two large cases similar to the Armenian in type. I mean the state of Israel with the Jewish Diaspora, and the Republic of Ireland with the Irish Diaspora. In essence, these states had to solve problems in many respects similar to those of the Republic of Armenia. 

And the last one. The idea of using the existing historical values and development is very boundary for modern social economic theory. I would like to remind the authors that the socio-cultural economy is becoming not only a new field of knowledge, but also an area of fairly accurate knowledge. The World Values Survey, the European Values Study and numerous theoretical works allow us to more accurately describe the set of behavioral attitudes and values of certain groups (including ethnic ones) in order to understand what these characteristics correlate better with in the development opportunities.

I would like to wish further successful steps to the authors of the project and the implementation of these ideas in the practice of the Republic of Armenia.


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