Nov 13, 2018

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Was Weak Relations Between HQ and Territorial Units the Cause of Revolution?

Photo by Sputnik

Irina Ghulinyan-Gertz, Berlin

The statement of the Republican Party on running in the parliamentary elections brings some clarity on two questions: whether the party honestly faced in the past half a year the inglorious history of the years when it was in power and drew conclusions, and whether it is ready to start from a new page, declare about a decision to be guided by improved practices and to seek for a portion of confidence of voters to fulfill it.

In the past week there were some reasons for positive expectations relating to these two questions. The young political team of the Republican Party was for running in the elections, some of them hinted that they had a different opinion on a lot of phenomena but they spoke differently, and the mistakes of the party led to the events in April, and being honest with voters is the most important thing and so on.

The reason for a positive expectation was that normally new approaches, frankness, open communication and practice is expected from young people. Besides, the representatives of this wing who claim they will renew the Republican Party have two important advantages: they are young and full of enthusiasm but already have experience in public administration and in the party and a craving for career. The key question is whether the representatives of this wing have learned lessons from the experience because the success of getting public confidence depends on this.

The statement of the Republican Party, however, was disappointing from this point of view. 13 of 15 pages was self-praise with different wrappings. Meanwhile, only a page and a half was dedicated to mistakes and shortcomings, but with wording avoiding a priori the real causes of removal of the Republicans from government. This is evidence that those who want to renew the Republican Party are still in the old mode. When one reads this 1.5. page, one thinks that in April hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest that the relationships between the territorial parts and headquarter of the Republican Party had got weaker, and the party leadership, being overloaded with national issues, weakened the party building and not enough awareness raising actions were taken and the government makes other similar “mistakes”…

The only superficial and blurred mentioning of one of the real reasons for removing the Republican Party from government was “useless tolerance in some matters which shattered the border of what was allowed for the party members ad aggravated the negative perceptions of the public” and that the membership ticket of some parties was indulgence.  

In fact, the honesty and bravery of the authors of this statement was hardly enough for these few lines. By the way, similar lines were found in many speeches by the party elite, and the criticism was stronger.

If the Republican Party is going to talk to voters about “these mistakes and shortcomings” and their determination to be good opposition during the campaign, the party will waste the potential of the aforementioned young professionals for a task with an outdated concept which the old guard for the Republican Party could have equally fulfilled. If these young people decided to go to the battlefield with this concept, this is even more disappointing.

At any rate, this statement made it obvious that the Republicans are not capable of facing to and admitting their mistakes. And this is a precondition to any credible promise of renewal. As government the Republicans were not distinguished for credibility, and avoiding admitting mistakes makes the lack of confidence worse. The decision of the Republican Party to position in the elections as the only and irreplaceable opposition does not release it of the need to get credibility. Opposition should also enjoy confidence.

The representatives of the political, youth wing of the Republican Party will have difficult days during the electoral campaign. They will gain the experience that they had been missing so far. In fact, they are going to be the first in the history of elections of the Republican Party who will run in the elections without monopolies and different bonus resources. We need to wait to see what conclusions will be drawn from this experience.


Armenia: 44 young people selected as Young European Ambassadors

Euneighbours.eu. On 12 November, newly selected Young European Ambassadors (YEAs) from Armenia met with the Head of the EU Delegation to the country, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski. They presented past activities implemented within the YEAs initiative, discussed ways to empower Armenian youth and initiated plans for future activities.

In 2018, 44 young Armenians were selected to act as YEAs. Some of them had already served as YEAs in previous years.

The existing YEAs, who have actively participated in various events in Armenia and abroad, shared their volunteering experience at the event. They have also been awarded certificates in recognition of their active roles as YEAs.

EU Ambassador Piotr Świtalski mentioned the importance of youth for the future for Armenia. “An open mind is like a parachute, if you don’t open it, it doesn’t work,” he said. “I invite you to open your mind and encourage you to show initiative.”

The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia added that Young European Ambassadors are working on two sides: “First, you will project a good image of Armenia, an Armenia of young and talented people. Secondly, we count on you to bring a good image of the European Union to Armenia.”

“I strongly believe that youth should have a greater role in the society. You as Young European Ambassadors are the future for this country,” Ambassador Świtalski reiterated.

The Young European Ambassadors initiative aims to foster cooperation and sustainable links between young people and youth organisations from the EU and its Eastern Partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The YEAs are part of the Young European Neighbours network, an online platform that facilitates the mutual exchange of ideas and information on the EU, as well as the engagement of young people in informative activities. It is focused on people-to-people contacts and dialogue-driven activities that contribute to greater awareness and improved perception of the EU and the enhanced assessment of its relations with the Eastern Neighbourhood.


What War Jets Will Armenia Buy?

The Ministry of Defense has already made a decision on the purchase of war jets, the acting minister Davit Tonoyan said in the press conference at the Ministry of Defense on November 12.

“The selection has been made, solving financial and technical issues remains,” Tonoyan said.

In answer to the question whether the Russian Su-30 jets are meant, Tonoyan said: “Maybe.”


Artsakh Issue in Global Focus: Authorities Cannot Avoid

Acnis.am, Editorial

Active reorganization of the political field of Armenia, which began after a change of power, occurs during a dramatic change in international relations. These processes are particularly acute in our region. Domestic political changes in Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries of the region are due to geopolitical factors. This statement will also be correct if we approach it from the opposite side: domestic political changes affect the international situation.

The Syrian war shook the Greater Middle East. Trump calls into question the irrevocable nature of globalization and speaks with the slogan “America First.” The principle of globalization, which does not recognize borders, is in essence called into question. Protectionism and trade wars are replacing globalization. The European Union is trying to create a single armed force. French President Macron explained the creation of the United Armed Forces for the necessary protection from Russia, China and … the United States.

Field theorists are already discussing possible new rules of international relations or possible principles of a new world order.

It is known from history that the transition from one world order to another passes through wars. In the 17th century, the Thirty Years’ War laid the foundation for the international Westphalian system, after the First and Second World Wars the world order of Yalta was formed. Now a period of uncertainty begins again.

What changes the world expects are a separate topic for discussion. The subject of discussion is also the likelihood of a new global war, but local conflicts occur in our area in the form of “hybrid” wars.

Presidential adviser on national security, John Bolton, called the Karabakh conflict a global problem. He announced the South Caucasus in the area of US national interests. Such words are not accidental.

Against this background, the Karabakh conflict is at the center of geopolitical changes. The events around Armenia suggest that Turkey, Russia, Iran, as well as large and small players in the region will not remain indifferent to the current negotiations on the Artsakh issue. However, the political parties of Armenia, especially on the eve of the elections, do not organize a debate on this issue. The most likely reason is that the parties, and in general, the political thought of Armenia could not develop an approach and, accordingly, a strategy.

The fight against corruption, justice, the environment, political prisoners and political assassinations became the cornerstone of the change of power in Armenia. People wanted a change. Former authorities led Armenia to stagnation.

The change of power took place. The degree of justification of public expectations is a separate issue, but over the past decades after the elections to the National Assembly, the traditional question of Artsakh can again become the most serious, complex issue of political life, which the new authorities are unlikely to dodge. Moreover, the points of view of superpowers and regional actors interested in this issue may be mutually exclusive.


Armenia Blew Up CSTO: The Elderly Startled

In the CSTO summit Armenia revealed the nudity of this organization in terms of its basis and in political terms. The scandal which was Armenia’s “fault” pushed forth a full set of backstage problems and controversies, which opens big opportunities for our country to promote its interests and claims in this Slavic-Turkic alliance.

What are the significant aspects of the new situation?

The developments relating to the election of the new secretary general lifted all “obligations” from Armenia because the bloc does not respect the rights of Armenia, namely in terms of retaining the Armenian rotation until 2020. On the other hand, Armenia “obligates” the other member states: Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Currently they cannot put forth claims to Armenia in the result of what happened in Astana, instead Yerevan will talk to partners from a different position.

In this respect, Armenia is free to act, and at the same time gets an opportunity to maneuver. The field for maneuver may include a diverse and broad spectrum, ranging from the reasonability of further membership of Armenia to CSTO (The United States has already offered weapons to Armenia, and the meaning of CSTO for Armenia is reduced to buying cheap weapons from Russia) to the most unexpected, Azerbaijan which is lobbied by Astana and Minsk, after taking under the Armenian “aegis” under relevant conditions.

Armenia will use this opportunity for sure, especially that in this situation it has become not only a newsmaker for CSTO but also Yerevan holds in its hands the destiny of this marginal bloc. Moreover, Astana and Minsk have united against Russia’s candidate.

As to the issue of the secretary general, it is not a purpose but a means for Armenia to “subordinate” the bloc to its own interests and claims. Yerevan seems to have caught this chance. The nervous behavior of the heads of states after the summit is evidence that the elderly were not expecting such a way out, particularly a harsh disagreement from the side of Armenia.


Scandalous Meeting Failed: Unexpected Outcome

How Khachaturov covered CSTO’s nudity

The CSTO Summit in Astana has ended up in a scandal. The Kommersant writes that the reason is that the nominations for secretary general were not affirmed. The Russian media write that the Armenian Prime Minister, charismatic Nikol Pashinyan could overcome Batka, Yelbasi and even Putin.

However, the disagreement on the issue of CSTO Secretary General was the smallest confusion, and Khachaturov simply covered the nude crotch of CSTO. In fact, the summit failed. The day before the summit it became known that no agreement had been reached on air defense and missile defense. In other words, the military alliance failed to create a unified air space.

Second, they had not been able to invite Ilham Aliyev to the summit as a CSTO partner. Meanwhile, it was possible because CSTO has made changes which allow Azerbaijan, for example, to become an observer without the consent of Armenia. Besides, there was hope to reach agreement on exchange of prisoners of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan for CSTO to declare that it was the achievement of CSTO.

However, they did not reach agreement on missile defense, Stepanakert refused to return the murderers to Azerbaijan, and Nikol Pashinyan said Armenia must retain the quota of appointing a secretary general of CSTO.

Armenia has ripped off the fig leaf covering CSTO, and they tried to hide nudity behind Khachaturov, as if the Eurasian Union could not agree on the candidacy of secretary general, and the rest is good.

The Moskovskiy Komsomolets began its article with the following line: “Three hours was not enough to decide who should be the next secretary general of the organization which is not taken seriously in the world.” It would be possible not to continue after this sentence. If they did not take a military alliance seriously, there is nothing else to discuss.

The media have called multiple times for showing the “scary” headquarters of CSTO. It turned out that CSTO is located in a tiny house in Moscow where there is a press secretary only who does not answer calls always.

Recently CSTO peacekeepers had exercise in Yekaterinburg where the UN representative was present. CSTO cannot get a peacekeeping mandate from the UN. The UN representative was pleased but the mandate was not given.

Apparently, the function of Armenia in CSTO is to reveal the nudity of CSTO from time to time.


Armenia’s Strong and Critical Questions to CSTO

The Assistant to the Russian President Ushakov said ahead of the CSTO Summit in Astana on November 8 that three are three options for the vacant position of Secretary General: Armenia appoints a new candidate, the deputy secretary general acts as interim secretary general, or Belarus appoints secretary general. Belarus is the next country after Armenia in alphabetical order.

The problem is that Armenia’s quota is until 2020. The issue arose after CSTO Secretary General Yuri Khachaturov was charged and was recalled.

Official Yerevan has expressed its intention to retain the quota. Obviously, there is no agreement on this among CSTO leaders. Will Yerevan retain the quota? It is possible that CSTO leaders are thereby trying to sell up the agreement. For example, this price could be refraining in return for retaining the quota from more claims relating to relations with Azerbaijan.

After all, the idea of rotation of CSTO Secretary General to Armenia for four years came up when different members of CSTO took obviously anti-Armenian steps and acted against their ally while Serzh Sargsyan had to openly criticize them.

The position of Secretary General seemed to be an act of repentance but in reality it was an attempt to shut the mouth of Armenia.

In the new situation, the problem has taken new shades but the motives of the CSTO member states have not changed. Meanwhile, the basis of Yerevan’s motives has changed, unlike the former government. And certainly, not retaining the quota may give rise to another wave of criticism against Nikol Pashinyan and cause tension in the attitude towards Russia and CSTO.

At the same time, it is important to record the priorities and problems clearly. And in this sense the position of the secretary general cannot be considered primary when it is just a way of shutting the mouth or if the price is to continue an irresponsible policy on Armenia.

In the new situation, Yerevan has the possibility and strength to set forth questions to allies in CSTO and the CSTO member states are obviously trying to use this opportunity to trade in, neutralizing this strength at least at this stage, or involve the new government of Armenia in the deals where they had involved Serzh Sargsyan or Sargsyan got involved.

Meanwhile, in 2020 Armenia’s quota will be complete, and the problems and security challenges and in this context the issue of CSTO will remain for many years, and this is a reason to think for the members of CSTO in the first place. They will eventually have to answer the questions of the only responsible member of this political-military bloc. The questions of Armenia are rational and fundamental. Moreover, they are not one-sided questions and are related to the interests of Armenia and not only.


Armenia Will Second Vahe Demirchyan to ECHR

The government will second the lawyer Vahe Demirchyan to the European Court of Human Rights, Department for the Execution of Judgments, for a year. The government will affirm the seconding on November 8.

The justification is the need for the presence of a lawyer seconded by the government of Armenia to the Council of Europe and the Council of Europe Secretariat in a period execution of complicated judgments expected in 2019 and determined by political motives, as well as execution of all the judgments against the Republic of Armenia.

“First of all, it is the judgment on Chiragov and others v Armenia the debate on which may be included in the agenda of the meeting of the Ministerial Committee on human rights in December of the current year or March of the next year. At the same time, there is a possibility that during the year the court will make decisions on a few more complaints of political importance,” the justification says.

Based on a special arrangement Vahe Demirchyan, the head of international legal relations of the Ministry of Justice of Armenia, was seconded to Department for the Execution of Judgments since 2012 and all the costs were covered by the Council of Europe.

Vahe Demirchyan’s secondment was prolonged several times upon request by the Secretariat of the Council of Europe and but since currently the CoE has insufficient funding, the CoE is ready to prolong the secondment if Armenia provides funding.


It’s Clear Who Will Comprise 1/3 of Parliament

Ahead of the early parliamentary election they are often asking the question which forces have a chance to appear in parliament, certainly after the force headed by Nikol Pashinyan. Different names are uttered, the situation is considered without Luys Alliance which seems to have fallen apart. The public or the segments shaping public opinion are trying to see which force will be the second, third, maybe fourth.

These questions are, perhaps, mostly determined by inertia, even if it is about the chances of the Republican Party. The questions are the inertia of the former system because the discussion is about forces left over from the former system.

At the end of the day, it makes little difference which of them or in what order will appear in parliament and get 1/3 of seats, as enabled by the Constitution. In the past six months the society has only one political force, and it is not political, it is revolutionary and government – the Civil Contract or Nikol Pashinyan.

The society does not have a political force because it has no politics yet. The objective now is to complete the revolution as soon as possible and as smoothly as possible and to transition to politics. This transition will not happen in December, or any time next year but in the next five years. They do not get a politics, a political field, a political system in five months or a year. And it is still a question whether it will succeed or it will be possible within five years.

Here is a basic issue of the society. In December, the society will not even elect a government, let alone an opposition. In December, the society will enable Nikol Pashinyan to fully manage the ruling system within the revolutionary “agreement” which it has signed.

At the end of the day, there will not be an elected party in December to discuss who will expect what in the election. In December there will be a completion of the choice made by the public in April and May which will lead to the formation of a new and real political system, not a showcase.

In this sense, it is known who will be 1/3 of the parliament. 1/3 of the parliament will be the old system with different names.

The parliament that will be formed in the December election will objectively be too tiny against the major problem because the public in Armenia will undergo deep transformation. One of the strategic issues of the new government is to ensure a lawful environment which will be sustainable for them, to ensure that the next election is not an early election but a regular election in 2023.

At least then it will be possible to have a meaningful discussion on the correction of political forces in parliament and on the quality of the forces that will be elected. In fact, the issue in the political and public life in Armenia is not what forces will appear in parliament. With the existing palette it will not make a big difference. The issue is whether new political forces with a strategy will emerge.


Unexpected Parade of Withdrawals: What’s Happening?

The parade of withdrawals from parliamentary elections has started. Today a lot of people have announced that they will not run in the parliamentary elections either on party lists or rating lists. First, the members of government Davit Tonoyan and Artur Vanetsyan stated that they will not run in the election. Though both officials are popular, the decision is that the heads of the security and law enforcement agencies must not interfere with political processes.

Then withdrawals started from the other side. The brother of Samvel Karapetyan, Karen Karapetyan, made an emotional statement, thanking everyone for support stated that it is meaningless to run in the election.

Later Ishkhan Zakaryan stated that he will not be nominated. Khachatur Sukiasyan also ruled out his participation in the elections.

However, the most interesting statement was made by Gagik Tsarukyan. He said he will lead the party list but he will not fight for seats because he is a serious, accomplished person even without mandates.

The Republican Party has not made up its mind. On November 9 there must be a meeting of this party. Ostensibly, the Republican Party will run in the election hoping to get up to 20%. It is not known whom the Republicans will nominate for rating lists but apparently those will not be politicians and will be celebrities, such as actors.

In fact, if the parade of withdrawals continues, the usual members of parliament may be replaced by young and inexperienced people. And the rich will at last concentrate on their businesses. Today Gagik Tsarukyan opened two factories, a factory of solar panels and a textile factory.


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