In recent months wide-ranging changes are taking place in Armenia, almost in all areas of political, economic, social and other spheres of life.
Last week Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a press conference attended by hundreds of journalists, during which he answered to variety of questions related to the Artsakh issue, foreign relations, public dissatisfactions and even touching upon the issues related to his family. For more then 4.5 hours the prime minister answered to reporters questions with no subject being off limits.
Such accessibility by an Armenian leader is unprecedented. His interaction with the citizens, on the streets of Yerevan and elsewhere in the country, is a new phenomenon. In the past, the Armenian presidents very rarely held press conferences, and direct interacting with the public was unheard of. During Robert Kocharian’s and Serzh Sargsyan’s presidency, few carefully selected reporters were led to the presidential palace, where generally subjects related to certain issues were covered, under controlled conditions. Journalist did not dare to ask the president “difficult” questions, and anything about their family members were considered off limits and treated as if they were “state secrets.
With Pashinyan’s ascension to power, all these traditional practices were put aside. As the leader of the country he has adopted an open and transparent approach to his relationship with the media and the society generally. For some, this is seen as simple populism to score political points. However, such an open dialogue with journalists and ordinary people allows the leader of the country an opportunity to learn first hand about the problems facing the public and the country, rather than through prepared briefings.
The velvet revolution has brought with it a great deal of changes in the lives of Armenia and the Armenians, among them is a new political culture of openness and direct communication with the public. Prime minister Pashinyan should be commended for these particulate changes, which will boost the people’s confidence in their government and its leadership and will have positive consequences for the country as a whole.