Monday, 18 January 2021

E Editorial

Disputes around Amulsar: the period of "black and white" confrontation is over

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Disputes about the fate of the Amulsar mine in Armenia are growing. And if we distract ourselves from the substantive part of these disputes, focusing on the domestic political situation that is objectively developing in the country, we can notice a deeper meaning in the situation that has arisen.  It seems that the country is involuntarily entering a new stage in its ideological and political development.  We are faced with something more than just a debate about the appropriateness of certain decisions.

For 25 years, the only political idea in Armenia was the idea of ​​a change of power.  Only this idea could periodically mobilize the masses, especially in the post-election periods.  Any attempt to challenge the relevance of this idea provoked a nervous reaction from the opposition.  The phrase “we have no time” became a mantra in their mouths.  The result of this practice was ideological stagnation, holding back any development of political thought in the country.  The consequences of this process are felt more than ever right now in the history of independent Armenia.  The change of power, carried out in 2018 by the efforts of the people, showed a deep ideological vacuum in society and, first of all, in a politically active environment.

Political life froze, opening the field for marginal opposition groups and individuals.  It is no coincidence that attempts to restore the old thesis about "a change of power" immediately appeared in the information field.  No one can offer any other mobilizing idea. But since the public does not respond to this thesis, the practice of accusing society of being an unconscious zombie has become widespread. On the other hand, the new “revolutionary” power is showing no less inactivity, having lost some influential idea.  Having carried out a change of power, it has lost the last mobilizing idea.

Both of these circumstances led to a sluggish stagnation of political life.  And it seemed that there could be no other idea capable of changing the emerging domestic political state.  But life has shown that this is not so.  The large-scale debate over the Amulsar mine, as you can see, threatens to break through political stagnation and take political processes in the country into a positive direction.  The new authorities of Armenia could not even imagine that it was the environmental issue that could create a fundamentally new situation.  But in vain ...

Do not forget that the movement for the overthrow of the oligarchic regime has its roots in environmental initiatives.  The practice of peaceful disobedience was developed precisely in these initiatives.  A chain of well-known civic initiatives—protection of Trchkan waterfall, protection of Mashtots park, AMD 100, electric Yerevan—formed not only effective fighting technology, but also a contingent of experienced activists, who later became the backbone of the mass popular movement that carried out a velvet change of power in Armenia.  The idea of ​​opposing any encroachment of the authorities on public property has become for this contingent a kind of “holiest of holies.”

Having such a genealogy, the new authorities are objectively not allowed to cross the red line and encroach on "their own song." Just an attempt to challenge something from the world of ecology and public property put Prime Minister Pashinyan in front of a difficult political situation. This situation is rapidly acquiring the character of a rational political confrontation, primarily within the echelon of power.  It seems that the prime minister’s imagination has been exhausted, as can be seen from the concept of “balanced national interest” that he introduced into everyday life. What does this mean, everyone understands in their own way.  But one thing is clear ‒ the time of the black-and-white domestic political division practiced for more than a year is coming to an end.  And this is good.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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