Many Armenians all over the world are worried about the prospects of Armenia, and in the foreseeable future want it to become a country that is an important factor in the international arena and its residents to start to live in a fair and prosperous society with clear and equal rules of the game.
I am assured that the publication of the book “At the Crossroads” can help attract the attention of Armenians in different countries to the issues of finding ways for the future arrangement and development of Armenia, its interaction with the Diaspora and other countries.
Since the paper was publicized after the change of power in Armenia, it makes sense to add a chapter or a short preface or afterword, where the authors’ expectations from the new government can be expressed, without any assessments.
In the discussion paper, there are no direct references to the importance of creating a feedback mechanism between citizens of the country and the first person of the state (the ruling party), with the obligation for the first person to respond to any requests from citizens in a written form within a reasonable timeframe (e.g. in France it ranges from a week to four weeks depending on the complexity and importance of the appeal). I believe it would give an opportunity to keep abreast of the residents of the country in real-time: to understand what they are most concerned about, and, most importantly, to promptly propose solutions to problems strictly in accordance with the laws and mechanisms of the Republic of Armenia – and therefore improve the system of the state administration by identifying the bugs. Naturally, this is not about anonymous feedback, but about open and transparent communications.
Israel is described as a metropole in this paper, but at the same time the country creates many innovative products for the whole world. I would suggest revealing a little more the path of creation and development of modern-day Israel: what exactly led to the fact that the country developed so quickly and efficiently, given that, like Armenia, it is located not in the friendliest environment, and also that in the early 90s we had a similar demographic situation with Israel.
I propose, if possible, to write more about the development models of our neighbors Georgia and Azerbaijan, who for seventy years lived with us in the same country. What did they do well, what didn’t work out, what development path have they taken?
The issue of creating a new, effective and trustworthy system for monitoring water and food quality standards is crucial for the future of the country, all the citizens, and no less important for the tourists visiting the country. Perhaps, the best way to do this is to make the system transparent and open. It will surely require significant investment and quality management, and the best solution could be to create a company in the form of a public-private partnership. So, if there is high-quality water and food combined with favorable natural conditions and the right communication strategy, Armenia can become one of the world leaders in the field of ecotourism.
It is mentioned in the paper that there is a low productivity in our agriculture. However, there are serious studies based on statistics that indicate that per one hectare in Armenia we produce more than in Georgia, Azerbaijan and even Russia. This point should be clarified.
The paper has the following thesis: the basis of corruption erodes if “improving the legal and statutory frameworks that regulate the functioning of the state apparatus, enhancing its transparency, and establishing an institutional framework for interactions between civil servants and the public.” I would add here the possibility of a decent reward. If we talk about the young officials, then in principle they are ready to work for a small fee and gain experience. However, if we are to attract strong and experienced professionals to the state administration, then adequate wages and high standard of living need to be ensured for them. Georgia serves as a vivid example, where corruption is absent in many areas, and the officials value their positions greatly and are not willing to take risks, since they will lose not only high-paying jobs, but also a generous social package.
There is such a thesis in the work: “The Armenian citizens still see the state not as a shared home but as an institution of oppression, and the ability to cheat officials is still regarded as a virtue and proof of gumption.” Perhaps it makes sense to reveal the reasons. For centuries, Armenians did not have statehood. For economic reasons or due to pressure and violence from the authorities, they had to leave their countries of residence. Accordingly, the feelings of responsibility for own country, Homeland were not nurtured either, and, as a result, the Armenians were not eager to fill the budget of those countries.
The paper emphasizes the importance of preserving the language. The creation of a working structure responsible for the preservation and development of the Armenian language would contribute to this: now, unfortunately, such a function is practically not being performed by anyone. Here again the format of a public-private partnership would fit.