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May 26, 2010

ACNIS Assesses Recent Developments in Greece, Kyrgyzstan and Thailand: Are there Lessons for Armenia?

Yerevan— Following a series of significant developments in several countries over the past several weeks, the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) convened a roundtable discussion today to analyze the implications for Armenia from those events.  ACNIS Director Richard Giragosian presented an analysis examining the recent political unrest in Thailand, the economic crisis in Greece, and assessing the resurgence of violence in Kyrgyzstan, as well as looking at the continuing political crisis in Iran.  The roundtable was attended by over thirty guests, including representatives from the diplomatic community, international organizations and a number of Armenian students, analysts and journalists.

After welcoming the guests, ACNIS Director Richard Giragosian explained that the recent trend of political unrest and economic tension in these countries offered several specific lessons for Armenia.  These lessons included important and revealing considerations in terms of the need for political consensus, compromise and dialogue, the relationship between the authorities and the opposition, and the impact of an economic crisis on political stability and development.

Giragosian presented an analysis of the recent wave of unrest in Thailand that left more than 85 people dead after a violent confrontation between the army and opposition demonstrators.  Giragosian noted that the opposition demonstrators, known as “red shirt” protestors, were “driven to take to the streets to oppose entrenched corruption and mounting inequalities in wealth.”  The opposition, which was demanding new elections, he said, “organized a series of demonstrations for ten weeks, until the Thai army moved in last week and forcibly broke up the demonstrators.” The “lesson from Thailand,” according to Giragosian, “is not only that the army’s actions did not resolve the crisis, but that the underlying reasons for the crisis are only growing more serious.”

He then assessed the recent economic crisis in Greece, which has also fueled widespread discontent. He noted that “the lesson from the Greek crisis was that even a strongly democratic government can be undermined by failing to manage an economic crisis.”  The Greek government, he said, “was plagued by the burdens of soaring debt and low tax collection, structural problems that Armenia is also now facing.”

Turning to the resurgence of violence in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan, he noted that although the recent overthrow of the Bakiev government stemmed from widespread discontent and frustration, the current situation remained unstable, as mounting demands for change and high expectations on the new Kyrgyz government was adding new pressure on the new leadership.  Giragosian added that the underlying factors that sparked the initial unrest were unresolved and the country’s new leaders have only just begun to address the economic crisis and tackle entrenched corruption.  Against this backdrop of economic crisis and as yet unmet demands for change, he warned that such factors “are now present in Armenia as well, although to varying degrees,” and added that “there are lessons for Armenia from what happened in Kyrgyzstan in terms of the need for further reform and real democratic change.”

The presentations were then followed by a series of questions and answers, and featured a lively exchange among the discussants.


The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) is a leading independent strategic research center located in Yerevan, Armenia.  As an independent, objective institution committed to conducting professional policy research and analysis, ACNIS strives to raise the level of public debate and seeks to broaden public engagement in the public policy process, as well as fostering greater and more inclusive public knowledge. Founded in 1994, ACNIS is the institutional initiative of Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Over the past fifteen years, ACNIS has acquired a prominent reputation as a primary source of professional independent research and analysis covering a wide range of national and international policy issues.

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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