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June 3, 2008

ACNIS Focuses on the 90-Year Track Record of Armenian Statehood

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today convened a policy roundtable to look at the past ninety-year history of Armenia as a state. The meeting brought together MPs, leading analysts, policy specialists, public and political figures, and media representatives.

ACNIS research coordinator Syuzanna Barseghian welcomed the audience with opening remarks. “When analyzing the general trends in the establishment of Armenian statehood we need to shed light on the causes of the political crises arising in Armenia every so often, the consequences of these crises, the logic behind the formation of democratic institutions and their success rate in pursuit of their mission,” Barseghian said.

The day’s first speaker, Karen Khachatrian of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences, examined the First Republic of Armenia in terms of the lessons learned and its parallels with the modern-day Republic. In his opinion, the lessons from the First Republic teach us above all to maintain and consolidate our friendly relations with Russia and also to have strong and combat-ready armed forces. According to Khachatrian, even though certain progress has been achieved in these two directions, the other equally important lessons have been disregarded. “Sadly, when it comes to manifesting tolerance and harmony in domestic politics we do not learn lessons from the past,” he stated, also emphasizing the imperative of forming legitimate authorities solely by way of free and fair elections.

ACNIS senior analyst Manvel Sargsian then reflected on the causes of the recurring domestic political crises in Armenia. “All through the history of newly independent Armenia, the body politic was unable, and the political elite unwilling, to implement solid and efficient electoral mechanisms, and this became the primary cause for the oligarchic system of governance to take root in the country,” Sargsian maintained, adding that the permanent crises in recent decades were the result of such a system. In his view, the passiveness of Armenian society as well as its civic apathy and conformist posture stand as an additional reason for the perpetuation of nationwide dilemmas. 
In his intervention, member of parliament Stepan Safarian focused on the formation of democratic institutions in newly independent countries. He pointed generically and then specifically to the fact that the post-election developments in Armenia, which were accompanied by tragic events and unlawful actions, bespeak the lack of development of civil society in the country. As Safarian argued, organized discrimination against democratic institutions likewise has a negative impact on this situation. “This state of disbalance for Armenia’s democratic institutions is deepening further and bringing with it societal tension as a result of which maintenance of power now is full of unforeseeable consequences,” he underscored.

The policy roundtable concluded with an exchange of opinions and policy recommendations among analyst Marcel Abrahamian of the Constitutional Court; MP Mkrtich Minasian; coordinator Mane Hakobian of “The People are Masters of the Country” civic union; Professor Babken Harutiunian, chairholder in Armenian History at Yerevan State University; director Heghine Manasian of the Caucasus Research and Resource Center; political analyst Davit Petrosian; chairwoman Artemis Lepejian of the “St. Sandukht” NGO; political scientist Vladimir Sargsian; program coordinator Edgar Vardanian of the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights; and several others.

Founded in 1994 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K. Hovannisian and supported by a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider understanding of the new global environment. In 2008, the Center focuses primarily on civic education, democratic development, conflict resolution, and applied research on critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am ; or visit www.acnis.am.


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