2018 will undoubtedly become one of the most monumental years in modern Armenian history. The tectonic changes that took place in 2018 will not only set the course for the next year, but will certainly shape the our every-day reality for the foreseeable future.
The popular movement that forced the resignation of president Serzh Sarkisian and toppled his corrupt regime provided the people of Armenia a chance, not seen since Armenia’s independence in 1918, to determine their own fate. Armenia’s independence generation rose to the challenge and was unrelenting in its resolve to ensure that the next generation will have a brighter future in its own homeland.
Armenia will welcome the new year with a new government, whose mandate should not only be to correct the wrongs of the past, but to also establish a new path for a more just and prosperous Armenia, where the rights of its citizens are not trampled upon but are protected.
The challenges that have sprung up since the popular movement must now become the concern of every Armenian, because there is no turning back. Every Armenian must take ownership and be prepared to roll up their sleeves in order to ensure a strong Armenia, without which all the other facets of the Armenian Cause will falter.
The parliamentary elections earlier this month also presented an unprecedented change from elections past, in that it was the first truly free and fair elections since Armenia declared independence in 1991. This means that those who voted also will have strong mandate to hold their newly-elected government responsible and call them to task.
More important, however, is the reality that as the euphoria of the past spring subsides, it will be up to Armenia’s new leadership to govern in a way that will benefit all Armenians, and not just those in power. This means that the new leadership must usher in a new culture of governance that is short on rhetoric and is focused on actions that will ensure that the institutions and branches of government function independently and truly become a checks and balance system that has been lacking in Armenia due to previous regimes’ consolidation of power.
Inevitably, the changes of the past year have not been welcomed by all circles in Armenia or the Diaspora. These elements must understand that the unhealthy status quo has been toppled and the new rules of the game will not allow a return to past norms, since it was those practices that became stranglehold for the people. Hence, whether they are opposition forces or extra-parliamentary factions, must operate within the current realities and must, first and foremost, take steps that will benefit the country instead of divide it.
Armenia and the Armenian Nation are facing critical—and existential—challenges. The tenuous peace in Artsakh is under constant military threat by Azerbaijan. International pressures on Armenia regarding regional priorities of other nations pose undue demands on Armenia to recalibrate its domestic and foreign priorities.
These challenges are of national importance and the new government, as well as the political forces in Armenia, must recognize that only through a united front can we, as a Nation, confront the obstacles that endanger the national security of our homeland and threaten the well-being and right to self-determination of the Armenian people, be that in Armenia proper or in Artsakh.
In its year-end editorial last year, Asbarez called on the leaders of Armenia to apply “the tenets of the 1918 Republic—social justice, democracy and the inclusion of every Armenian in the well-being of the state” when they were to choose a new prime minister in April.
“We hope that the lessons of 1918 do not fall on deaf ears and we, as a nation, will choose a path toward true change that will guarantee life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Armenians in their homeland,” Asbarez said last year.
Well, the leaders failed and were deposed and the people prevailed. That victory must be nurtured and advanced. More important, the aspirations of the new generation of Armenians, who stood up to injustice, must not be compromised. We all have work to do.
Happy New Year!