On June 1st, the Armenian Congress of Democracy convened in Yerevan, where President Vahagn Khachaturyan, underscored in his speech, that democracy has become an integral part of Armenia’s identity.
The advent of democracy and freedoms in Armenia can be traced back to the events of April-May 2018, when the Armenian people, in a resounding display of unity, peacefully overthrew the former regime and dismantled its entrenched practices in what became known as the Velvet Revolution.
Since that transformative period, Armenia has remained steadfast in upholding democratic values despite facing numerous challenges and difficulties. Even the 44-day war in 2022, failed to derail the progress of democracy, as the authorities remained committed to the principles they had embraced.
Numerous international human rights organizations have corroborated the advancements made by Armenia in recent years. Today, freedom of the press and the internet are upheld, and elections are conducted under fair and transparent conditions. In many constituencies, opposition parties and candidates had the opportunity to secure victories. Notably, the opposition controls five television channels and over fifteen media outlets that critique the current authorities without hesitation or fear. Furthermore, there are no political prisoners in Armenia.
During the same congress, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan asserted that democracy is the brand of Armenia. This thoughtful observation accurately captures the essence of our nation today. Embracing democracy enables Armenia to present itself to the world and forge new friendships, particularly with Western countries, which can offer support in various ways when our traditional allies fall short of their obligations.
Democracy also has an economic dimension, allowing entrepreneurs and merchants to conduct their business freely and contribute significant sums to the state treasury. They no longer fear the arbitrary seizure of their factories and businesses. Economic participation is no longer limited to a select few, and the involvement of a larger number of citizens, coupled with fair competition, has contributed to unprecedented economic growth in Armenia.
However, challenges remain. Public distrust towards the judiciary persists as a vulnerable aspect of the country. Upholding fair courts is pivotal in bolstering democracy. Elevating the standard of living and ensuring social protection for all citizens are also critical factors in the development of democracy.
Moreover, democracy does not mean lawlessness. Both the government and the opposition must remain committed to the same principles. Calls for physical retribution, attempted kidnappings, and the spreading of misinformation are incompatible with the rule of law and should not go unpunished. Otherwise, the country risks descending into chaos.
The principle that should guide each person is: “Your freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins.” This should serve as a slogan for all political circles and ordinary citizens of Armenia, with everyone acting in accordance with this principle.
The development of democracy in Armenia has not reached its culmination, but it is on the right path. Continuous commitment to these principles is key to Armenia’s future success.