YEREVAN — The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) held a special briefing on January 20 entitled, “An Assessment of the Recent Revolution in Tunisia: Are there Lessons for Armenia?,” with a presentation by ACNIS Director Richard Giragosian focusing on the recent unrest in Tunisia that resulted in the overthrow of that country’s long-serving president. Giragosian analyzed the events in Tunisia with a focus on the possible lessons for Armenia in terms of the need for political consensus, compromise and dialogue, and the relationship between the authorities and the opposition.
After showing a video of recent demonstrations in the Tunisian capital, Giragosian noted that “the wave of unrest was largely a leaderless revolution that was both sudden and spontaneous.” He traced the lack of leadership to the fact that “most of the demonstrators were driven by a spontaneous reaction to the accumulation of frustration, hopelessness and humiliation of years of corruption, restrictions on political freedoms and a general arrogance of power exhibited by the Tunisian government.”
He further noted that the recent developments in Tunisia were especially significant for Armenia, as the situation demonstrated five key factors: (1) the inherent weakness and vulnerability of states hindered by little real legitimacy; (2) the sudden and explosive power of public rage and discontent; (3) the economic and demographic roots of such popular discontent; (4) the power of the Internet and social media tools in terms of activism and organization; and (5) the cumulative effects of an “arrogance of power” by the ruling political elite. The analysis also examined the impact of economic pressure on political stability and development.
Giragosian concluded by stressing that “although there were several broader lessons from the Tunisian situation, what was most crucial for Armenia was the recognition of the danger of ignoring public demands for change and the need for deeper and durable reform.” He also stated that “the lessons from Tunisia were even more applicable to the case of Azerbaijan, mainly due to the dynastic nature of the Azerbaijani government, making Baku especially vulnerable to growing discontent and possible unrest in the face of a pronounced lack of legitimacy and its notable disregard for democratic reforms.”

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