In the history of nations, one year is an instant. But for the generations living through that year, it may seem even longer than a year, especially when it immediately follows a revolution in the country. Infected by the revolutionary obsession, people become impatient and expect immediate results. We noticed such an exuberant feeling when we visited Armenia in July of last year. However, when we visited Armenia again in July of this year, that exuberant feeling was replaced by an anticipatory and watchful feeling. That is quite natural to expect. However, the problem lies in the duration of this “wait and see” anticipatory situation. How long it can last and where it may take us will depend on the performance of the people who carried out the revolution, on their ability to convey and communicate it to a wide range of people and to convince them.
While the revolutionaries are engaged in their work, those negatively affected by the revolution will do their utmost to hinder and disrupt their activities. This fact was clearly visible during our stay. It is worth mentioning some of the major points of their criticisms. Representatives of the old regime were criticizing the youth and inexperience of the new regime, the alleged role of foreign powers in bringing them to power and hence their dependence on them, their lack of national orientation, etc.
So, the onus of proof falls on the new ones. That is not an easy task, when they have declared that their activities will all be conducted within the framework of the judicial system, which unfortunately is a very slow process. The general population has witnessed throughout the past 20 years, how Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sargsyan, with their accessories and close friends, illegally amassed tremendous wealth, robbing the country. This privileged class gained the hatred of the masses. Therefore, the masses expect that hatred must be ruthlessly reciprocated and that which the privileged class has taken from the people must be taken away from them and returned to the people. Immediate and dreadful judgment must be brought on them, similar to the fate suffered by Ceausescu of Romania and Saddam Hussein of Iraq. But this solution, however acceptable to the masses, can have unpleasant and dangerous consequences. When establishing the rule of law within the country is of paramount importance, every effort must be made to stay within the legal framework. Unfortunately, knowing this well, Kocharian and friends are doing their utmost to exploit the labyrinth of the judicial system.
In our humble opinion, the prolongation of this anticipatory situation will not be beneficial to the party that carried out the revolution. In the worst case, it can prepare the ground for the emergence of an opportunist dictator with dire consequences. Thus, for the revolution to achieve its goal, the present authorities will have to pursue radical solutions, accelerate the pace of change, and adopt drastic measures. When it has become evident that the former authorities are doing their best to obstruct the pace of rapid change, the current authorities must find the means to immediately neutralize those efforts and consolidate the rule of law. The National Assembly should bear this responsibility, and at this juncture, the most convenient way of finding solutions will be to utilize the services of individual experts and bypass the cumbersome process of working through committees.
The current global developments make it clear that individual initiatives are faster and more productive than the group workflow. Therefore, in order to achieve rapid results and to generate significant profits, authorities should prioritize the development of individual talent rather than organizations whose workloads are heavy. They also need to adopt transparent activities to win the trust of citizens and to ensure their mass participation in the advancement of the country and the strengthening of the state. In time, state institutions will be formed that will take on that responsibility.
The communication between the authorities and the general population is very important. The government can take very good steps, but unless they can be convincingly explained to the people, those steps cannot be effective. This is all the more challenging given that most of the media is in the hands of the former authorities and they are making every effort to discredit the new authorities. At the present moment, the burden of this responsibility falls on the shoulders of Prime Minister Pashinyan. It is not enough to make 100 points and similar statements. The people need to be closely informed of the issues and their participation should be sought for the solutions.
The first president, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, in his article titled “The Moment of Seriousness: War or Peace” raised many bold questions, but failed to ensure the people’s participation in the discussion. Consequently, his initiative failed. Had he succeeded in creating constructive discussion, both his and Armenia’s fate would have been positively different. One must learn from this example and move on. There is the need of bold steps.
To summarize our reflections, we can state without a doubt that the Velvet Revolution brought a new and vibrant spirit to Armenia and the Armenians worldwide. So that this spirit and zeal will not dissipate, the revolution must find quick resolutions for the issues that are constraining our development, always staying within the bounds of the law. Of course, mistakes will be made, but when the sincere tendency of the authorities to build a just and democratic state is clearly demonstrated, the people will be apprehensive. This anticipatory state of affairs following the revolution should not be prolonged, lest it give rise to a new revolution, which certainly will not be velvety.