Sirak Martirosyan
President of Tavush Development NGO

Being deeply partial to the fate of our nation, having read the book “At the Crossroads” of the esteemed Ruben Vardanyan and Nune Alekyan, I immediately enter discussion with my thoughts.

Having experienced many ups and downs, the Armenian nation has now come to the frontier and is facing the choice of a development vector, clearly realizing that it bears responsibility for future generations.

The content of the book is the result of tremendous work, covering all aspects of the life activities of the Armenians and Armenia.

Today, talking about the future is all the more important, since due to the level of confidence in the authorities in Armenia, a new reality has been created: fragile due to novelty and promising in spirit. I agree with the authors that a bold step, without fear of change, has been taken, but I believe that it is important to avoid dizziness from success, to comprehend the reality, carefully and slowly gather the potential of the nation. I share the opinion of the authors: it is in the 21st century that our nation is going to face assimilation, and the country – possible loss of independence, that is, its subjectness in the global world. 

I absolutely agree with the statement that the Armenians, in particular those living in the Republic of Armenia, are not ready to patiently discuss poignant topics, and we need to learn the culture of discussion and communication in different languages. 

Presently, in order to find its place in a turbulent global world, to grow and prosper evenly, Armenia is obliged to take the rails of a rapid economic recovery, based on the increasing inclusiveness of its political and economic institutions. 

The book interestingly and convincingly describes the nature of Armenian resilience, based on an understanding of universal interests and world history: “Armenians have thrived when they have had access to life on a larger stage”, because we are in a difficult region. But a breakthrough can take place in the global world thanks to the readiness for change and competition, the guarantee of which is also the individualism of the Armenians, although if lessons are not learned from its history, this trait can become our evil fate. 

I will try to answer the question raised in the book: “Does culture determine the nature of political and economic institutions (extractive or inclusive) or, on the other hand, do well-established institutions change cultural matrices?”. It is clear that they influence each other, and they must also be developed jointly. However, I take the liberty of asserting that there are negative aspects of the institutions that are more understandable for the Armenian society, therefore, in the calculation of inclusiveness, it is necessary to put emphasis on the improvement and revolutionary transformations of those institutions.  

I share the point of view of the authors of the book in their vision of the prosperity of Armenia, that is, the coverage of the entire nation in its integrity and diversity with a planning horizon of 25 years or more. 

The conclusion that Armenia is governed by hopeless “personalized micromanagement” is controversial. After all, a country in a hybrid war is forced to replace the long-term prospect by the medium-term one, as evidenced by the agreement with Russia, state programs, including demographic ones, by the previous government, associative agreement with the European Union. 

The criticism of the initiative of the Armenian government aimed at taxing the companies established in the Russian Federation is also unconvincing. The programs of the “Tashir Group” alone can serve as a positive example of creating the conditions for “creative destruction”.  

A sore point is corruption. I agree with the authors that it is impossible to defeat it with the laws and efforts of law enforcement agencies. The “maturity” of a society can sooner lead to an understanding of the meaninglessness of corruption and to its elimination. 

Convincing indications of sources of productive motivation are such as love, fear, and shame. Fear that we can lose everything and disappear as a nation, turning from a subject into an object. 
The book thoroughly describes the new reality of the twenty-first century: in conditions of deep transformation of the world order it is important not to stay overboard and become the subject of “technological colonialism”. I agree that in the context of Armenia with limitedness of traditional institutions losing confidence, the need for actors from the diaspora comes to the fore, to which can contribute the true democracy and harmony in the society (which is absent and will have to be awaited for a long time), as well as the network and the real relationship of Armenia – Diaspora with mutual benefit. We have passed the mode of survival, now we are in the mode of preservation, and we need to make a breakthrough and go into the mode of prosperity. We need to stop dividing in our minds the citizens of Armenia of two “sorts”), Artsakh and the Armenians of the diaspora in order to determine a common optimistic vision of the future, otherwise it is fraught with assimilation and disappearance. 
There are convincing arguments about the likelihood of world disasters that can wipe out the Diaspora and Armenia from the face of the earth. This can only be avoided by uniting a disparate nation and reviving the global network based on the principle of maximum inclusion and making the life order of a hub state. For this purpose, it is necessary to expand the composition of consultants of the Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology by the representatives of different countries. 

The capsule as a model of development of Armenia is unpromising since isolation from the outside world is inevitable. Despite the temptation of the hub state, closer to me is the model of the periphery of an empire, namely Russia, and Iran – in the event of Armenia and Russia moving to Europe, and Iran to the Eurasian Economic Union. The solution to the Armenian issue and the non-return of the lands claimed by Turkey and Azerbaijan is so long-term that the development of Armenia, although not as fast as we would like it to be, is relatively safe to be seen precisely within the Eurasian Economic Union, which has the tendency to expand. 

The technological level and standards in force in Armenia, the slow involvement of the Diaspora, the mentality of the Armenian population and immaturity of the political field, the behavioral manifestations of the elite – namely, oligarchs, the low demand for intellectuals in resolving national issues, the closeness of the views of Russian and Armenian societies, Russia's interest in relations with diaspora Armenians make my point of view more pragmatic for at least 20-30 years. The further fate of Armenia and our entire nation will depend on how fruitfully will the intellectual forces be mobilized and to what extent it will be possible to create an atmosphere of national harmony. 

An invaluable merit of the book is that it provides answers to all possible questions that may arise among the common men, active citizens, representatives of the elite and business, youth and students, farmers, scientists and the officers. Of course, not all conclusions are indisputable, however, I believe it is necessary to consider all the pros and cons with the same thoroughness, as the authors did, to abandon privacy, refuse the temptation of momentary achievements. The attractive idea of a hub country should start after the mobilization of internal and diasporan forces and creation of an inclusive ecosystem with the emergence of leaders who are trusted by the Armenian world, and this should happen evolutionarily and in a short time, since neither Armenia, nor the Diaspora are ready for the full-scale involvement of the diaspora in the life of Armenia, for ensuring inclusion, at least in terms of participation in referenda, whereas making Armenia prosperous is possible only if this task becomes a universal national project, and Armenia – the focus of the life interests of all Armenians. 

I consider the leader’s factor extremely important. Just a comparison of the governing and executive elites led by a leader and a musical orchestra with a chief conductor, suggests that talented performers without a talented conductor (leader) are not able to give the expected result. 

I agree with the authors who believe it’s important to conduct in-depth studies of diasporan communities regarding their expectations from Armenia. 

In my understanding, one of the stages on the way to the hub model should be the establishment by referendum of criteria for an Armenian citizen (faith, language, sense of belonging, mixed origin etc.). 

I would include the military-industrial complex in the modified list of the priority sectors. 

In order to achieve an inclusive ecosystem, i. e. the foundation of a hub-country, first of all (although all the projects for Armenia are urgent) there’s a need to change the education system so that enrollment in schools and universities is conducted selectively and graduation – only on knowledge. All the collateral schools, colleges and other imitators of the educational process should be carefully revised and reduced, because ballast in this case harms both the progress and motivation of an educated person. 

In my opinion, Armenia’s current government in its strategy is guided by the concept of Armenia, expressed in the book “At the Crossroads”, partly declaratively, i. e. there are many deviations in the approval of national consent and the paths to inclusion. 

I am optimistic about our future (the key to this is this BOOK). After all, we live in an era of “talentism”, and the Armenians have repeatedly come out of hopelessness thanks to their TALENT. 


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