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BELMONT, MA — Dr. Anna Ohanyan, Richard B. Finnegan Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Stonehill College, will moderate a panel discussion entitled “The Armenian Parliamentary Elections in April 2017: How Can the Diaspora Engage in Armenia’s Democratic Evolution,” on Saturday, December 3, 2016, at 2:00 p.m., at Harvard University, Sever Hall, Room 113.

The discussion will feature the distinguished panelists Prof. Miguel E. Basáñez (Tufts Univ. Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy), John M. Evans (Former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia), and via Skype from Armenia Sona Ayvazyan (Transparency International Armenia), Isabella Sargsyan (Eurasia Partnership Foundation), and Tevan Poghosyan (Member of Parliament, Republic of Armenia).

The program is organized by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) / Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Lecture Series on Contemporary Armenian Issues, the Harvard Armenian Society, and the MIT Armenian Society.

The 25-year-old Republic of Armenia is facing political unrest due to issues of corruption, lack of economic growth, growing dissatisfaction with the current government, and concerns regarding the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh. A recent takeover of a police station by the armed opposition group Sasna Tsrer (Daredevils of Sasun) led to a hostage crisis, where security forces used excessive force against civilian protesters and journalists alike, and two policemen were killed.

In April 2017, Armenia will hold its first parliamentary elections since the Constitutional reform referendum of Dec. 2015 and transition from a semi-presidential system to a parliamentary one, strengthening the legislature at the expense of the presidency. The April 2017 elections will form a parliament with more power in the country’s political life and offer a chance for the people in Armenia to express their political will through their votes rather than through violence.

The panelists will discuss the role of the upcoming parliamentary elections for Armenia’s democratic promise and for the future of its statehood. They will also provide an understanding of the nuts and bolts of the election process, and will place a special emphasis on the value, place, and prospects of the diaspora’s support for the democratic processes of the elections.

The program is free and open to the public. There will be a reception and refreshments immediately following the program and question-and-answer session.

For more information about the panel discussion, please contact lafeyan@college.harvard.edu or hq@naasr.org for more information.

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