YEREVAN—Democracy is Armenia’s main trademark, and all possible threats to that democracy are external, announced the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan today at the Armenian Forum of Democracy organized in Yerevan by a local civic group and the U.S. watchdog Freedom House.
“When the non-violent velvet revolution took place in 2018 and we were saying that democracy is Armenia’s main trademark, many were doubting this because they were saying that the government doesn’t need to limit freedoms in conditions of post-revolutionary euphoria. But the fact that the Armenian Forum for Democracy was held for the first time in 2022 and not in 2019 speaks volumes. When we were emphasizing the free snap parliamentary elections held in 2018, this was also being questioned, asking what kind of elections would have taken place if conditions were different,” Pashinyan said. He added that elections were held in different conditions as well—the 2021 snap election of parliament after the Second Nagorno Karabakh War—and the elections were again free and democratic.
The fact that democracy is Armenia’s main trademark is a conscious political course by the Armenian government and people, not a result of coincidence. Prime Minister Pashinyan underscored that many serious institutional reforms are still in process, and upon completion, the reforms should bring higher levels of human rights protection, the rule of law, and anti-corruption policy.
Furthermore, the Armenian PM stated that the high economic growth registered in Armenia today is the result of economic freedoms, among others. There are no internal threats to democracy in Armenia, Pashinyan added. He said that all possible threats are foreign threats, well-known and visible to everyone. Pashinyan emphasized the importance of proving that democracy is capable of ensuring security as well.
Democracy will continue to be Armenia’s main trademark. Pashinyan expressed hope that high economic growth and peace will be the country’s supporting brands. The unity of democracy, economic growth, and peace must serve the goal. “We are talking about freedoms, but freedom isn’t the final goal in itself. Freedom is the method of ensuring the welfare and happiness of people. This is the highest goal we’ve set before us. Our objective is for people to be prosperous, protected, happy, able to do what they like to do, and thus ensure their own prosperity and the country’s prosperity. Certainly, democracy is a necessary albeit insufficient condition for this, and we must ensure the remaining institutional conditions as well for this vision to become a reality,” Pashinyan said.
The lack of democracy in Armenia had been used as an instrument to cover up the truth about the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, Pashinyan said. “The absence of democracy or the attitude towards democracy in Armenia had served as an instrument to prevent us from knowing the truth about the Karabakh issue. Of course, I don’t want to spark a political debate, but the model that only a few people have expert-level knowledge of the Karabakh issue is the clearest evidence of that. This is the biggest problem that we have faced,” Pashinyan said at the Armenian Forum for Democracy. He added that now, in conditions of democracy, they are learning new information about the Nagorno Karabakh issue, decrypting new meanings and subtexts of well-known words.