This Saturday change of power has finally ended in Armenia: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, elected by parliament on May 8, formed government, which consists mostly of representatives of his team, including members of the Civil Contract party and the Yelk faction. Writer, journalist, host of the "Vesti.FM" radio Armen Gasparyan discussed the results of the Velvet revolution's first stage in the Republic of Armenia in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- What do you think about current events in Armenia, including resignation of Serzh Sargsyan and appointment of Nikol Pashinyan as Prime Minister, as well as formation of the new Cabinet of Ministers?
- I do not really like revolutionary shocks, regardless of how they are called - "Maidan", "Velvet revolution", "Rose revolution" and so on - because no country in the post-Soviet space that went through them didn't begin to live better, on the contrary, standard of living dropped sharply. Many of those countries lost territories as a result of wars: Georgia lost South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Moldova lost Transnistria, Ukraine lost Crimea and southeast of the country. I closely monitored situation in Armenia and I must say that I didn't see those events as political - it was the embodied of John Lennon's, who once sang "power to the people".
So all those things happened, the new Cabinet of Ministers has been formed, but now the question is - how professional it is, are these people ready for such job? Starting with Pashinyan - does he have experience of serious government work, at least at the level of deputy mayor of the city? He doesn't. So is there any reason to believe that economic transformation that government wants to conduct will be successful? There are no successful examples of such reform in the post-Soviet countries. Pashinyan is going to invite Daron Acemoglu as his economic advisor, but he's a man who ruined economies of all countries that he was involved with - his entire work was based on getting as much IMF loans as possible and build economy using them. If Armenia follows this parth, it won't result in anything good.
I understand that the level of corruption in Armenia is very high, they really need to be fight it, most likely population just lost its patience. But I don't believe that what happened before our eyes over the past week and a half will directly lead to improvement of life in the country. Those steps that we saw so far prove my point. In addition, it would be nice if Mr. Pashinyan told about his foreign policy program. What should we base our foreign policy position on - on statements that he perfectly understands that there's no existing and there will be no any alternative to Russia, and that already great economic and trade climate will improve even more, or on what he said earlier, when he was a member of the Yelk faction, stating that Armenia needs to withdraw from the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union?
- Vladimir Putin and Nikol Pashinyan will meet for the first time today, some experts say that Russia is seeking loyalty of new Armenia in foreign policy. What do you expect from this meeting in Sochi? How can relations between Russia and Armenia change in the foreseeable future?
- I think we shouldn't expect something fundamentally new from this meeting. Pashinyan perfectly understands that he doesn't have and won't have any alternatives to friendship and partnership with Russia, both from historical, political and geopolitical points of view. There can be no relations with Turkey at all, since Turkey doesn't recognize the 1915 events as a crime, and there's a war with Azerbaijan, so it's clear that Armenia can only rely on Russia as a serious world power. I don't think that there will be any bargaining, most likely Pashinyan will say that nothing in relations between two countries will change, even though there's a new government.
- How did Russian part of Armenian diaspora react to resignation of Serzh Sargsyan and appointment of Nikol Pashinyan as Prime Minister in the wake of protests?
- I have no contacts with diaspora, and I can only speak from the point of view of observer. It was not very clear to me why some of Armenians in Russia, Russian citizens, began to immediately support Pashinyan. This is an interference in the affairs of a sovereign country. The fact that this part of Russian society is pretty politicized and that it participated in many of these processes is undeniable. They even protested the Komsomolskaya Pravda radio after the speech of Mikhail Leontiev. Perhaps they have a right to do this, if they identify themselves with the current Republic of Armenia. It's an issue of how these people position themselves in diaspora - do they identify themselves with historical homeland or not. If they are, then their concern and politicization in this matter is understandable.
- In your opinion, how much easier will it be for Nikol Pashinyan to establish a dialogue on the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, compared to Serzh Sargsyan?
- Many difficulties with Sargsyan in the negotiation process were associated with the fact that he's considered to be a war criminal in Azerbaijan. This made it difficult to negotiate. In this context, yes, it will be easier to negotiate with Pashinyan, he's not a representative of the Karabakh Armenians. On the other hand, who is Prime Minister of Armenia is not important for the settlement of this conflict. Karabakh is very important for Armenia, and any new leader of the country will maintain Serzh Sargyan's stance on Karabakh issue. There's no doubt about it.
Are negatiations necessary? Of course they are. The main problem is that this conflict exists for over 30 years. If we consider that one generation is 15 years, then as of now two generations have been raised in the state of war, and there are several consequences of them, the biggest of which is that there's still widespread propaganda of hatred in the two countries. I don't really know how will they overcome this factor, because it's possible to agree on good and positive concessions in a peaceful format, but if the entire society has been raised in such atmosphere, overcoming this situation will be incredibly difficult.