Interview with Armineh Arakelyan, founder of the IDHR, political scientist, lawyer
Armineh, recent political developments were predictable. Most people said the civil society is passive to some extent.
It could not be unpredictable. The civic movement for Mashtots Park was the first with such volume, quality, which triggered a qualitative change in the civil society and had some influence on the process of interaction and rearrangement of forces in the system. A small number of the new generation is trying to form quality but it is not a society yet with a civic aspect. In other words, there are no accomplished civil culture and centers which would bring together thinkers, scientists, artists and initiatives who are aware of their mission and duty to express their civic stance and to carry political views. Although this is a criminal-oligarchic system, political resolutions are nevertheless made, and we cannot be neutral or not to deal with politics, because as long as you are passive, you encourage resolutions which are against you. We lack this consciousness. If we speak about democracy and constitutional order, we must have a critical mass but we are not in this stage yet.
As to the civil society, I do not find it passive. The dismantled boutiques of Mashtots Part were a victory although what Serzh Sargsyan did bewildered the young people because the issue was legality but it was a victory because the public property belongs to the society and was returned to the society. It is possible that young people thought they would change the system, and it leaves them puzzled but they must understand that it is a long, patient struggle, the train has just moved. I think the civic activity in Mashtots Park split the criminal-oligarchic system. Serzh Sargsyan’s visit to the park is evidence to this split, they “let down” some oligarchs and the illegal property and interests of oligarchs yielded to public property and interests, but not at the legal level yet.
Was the decision not to form a coalition just another game between Serzh Sargsyan and PA?
It was something regular because if the RPA is majority, it must bear responsibility and the consequences. In democracies the force which has majority forms a coalition when it is facing national challenges, and consolidation of forces is required. I think Vartan Oskanian’s affiliation with PA saved PA because it thus postured as opposition. Nevertheless, these things are not of vital importance for our state and society and challenges of development. Since these forces play according to the rules of the criminal and oligarchic game, they eventually ensure the interests of their own group and save the system. None of these forces embodies and works for the sake of the priorities of the Armenian people, which presupposes establishment and enforcement of the RA Constitution and establishment of the rule of law.
In 2008 the ANC declared restoration of the constitutional order, it failed, however. What are the guarantees that it will be a success this time?
It was a failure because it is very important who and how they try to establish it. In 2008 Levon Ter-Petrosyan declared but merely declaring is not important, those who declare must be carriers of constitutional values and idea and ensure success by way of their behavior, programs and tactics. It may not favor the first, second, third presidents because as soon as the constitutional order is established, they will have to be brought to justice. Neither will the oligarchs benefit from the establishment of constitutional order.
Armineh, Sardarapat Initiative suggests forming an alternative parliament, presents a roadmap and sets forth the issue of a new constitution. Now will it be establishment of constitutional order or a new constitution?
I think this is also an experience, and different forces can have aspirations. Judging by the crisis our people and society is in, this is a priority and premise of state building after which it will be possible to launch a new stage of constitutional reform or constitution. I think the present Constitution is progressive in terms of human rights and self-determination rights but the government needs reforms, which will be possible only when constitutional order is established in Armenia.
What is your vision of new Armenia? Will it be participatory democracy?
A recent statistics stated that 57,320 people left Armenia in the past 4 months. It is 477 people per day, it will question the existence of Armenia. When Serzh Sargsyan as RA president and guarantor of the Contsitution announces that the border villages could be displaced, and it is not proper to speak about rural development when not all the schools of Yerevan have central heating. This questions the existence of Armenia. My vision of new Armenia is populated Armenia with its border and inland villages, long-term even human development principles, protected environment, culture, fauna, resources serve sustainable development of the society and the national priorities. New Armenia must ensure free, fair and dignified existence and long-term development of our people in universal processes. New Armenia is a civil and constitutional legal state which will vocalize and orchestrate a conscious and harmonious creation of the multifarious potential of the Armenian people. The senior generation with the new generation will create it and pass it over to our future generations. This is the understanding of our identity, self-creation and self-development, individual and collective life.