BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
I heard so much caterwauling about my “Bad News Beginning” piece a couple of weeks ago that I went out of my way for a feel-good piece this week. I hope all sensitive readers will find their nerves soothed by this, especially those who thought I was being too hard on Nikol Pashinyan.
To my mind, the best news was that Yerevan is to have new 20 hectare (almost 50 acres) forest-park. After the early 1990s denuding of the city when trees were chopped down for fuel, this is a great step forward, both for its human, recreational, and environmental values. If the new government keeps doing things like this, it’ll become a true hero in people’s eyes. The only caution is that this kind of project takes time to come to fruition and people have short memories when it comes to elections.
The most inspiring item came out of Bolis. The outfit publishing the “Looys” (light, in Armenian) newspaper has announced that within a month, the first ever Armenian TV channel in Turkey will start broadcasting bilingually (Armenian and Turkish). This speaks to the tremendous heart our compatriots living under the Turkish yoke have.
I’m not much of a churchy sort. But, learning that the first modern church (Syriac in this case) to be built in Bolis has finally gotten its permits, after being delayed since 2013, can only be greeted with joy. Could this and the previous item be tiny indicators that things are starting to go in a better direction in Erdoğan-land after some five years of going backwards on the road to becoming a decent member of the international family?
And while we’re on a thread of justice-related good news, we should also celebrate Donald Trump’s signing of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act into law. This should also calm down readers who seem to think I am unfoundedly opposed to Trump. I’ll always give credit where credit is due. This legislation codifies a lot of pre-existing policies and was recognized by the ANCA as a “landmark bipartisan genocide prevention measure” which I hope will clear the way for better behavior by both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government when it comes to Armenian Genocide recognition.
When Erdoğan asserts that Bolton made a ‘serious mistake,’ and Ankara won’t ‘swallow’ his comments on Syria’s Kurds, I can only grin. Erdoğan’s arrogance manifesting itself will help keep Turkey-U.S. relations tense, creating opportunities for Armenian-issues related progress in Washington. Bolton had stated that any military action launched by Turkey in Syria must safeguard Kurdish lives.
Turning our attention back to Yerevan, it’s heartening to learn that the government has allocated nearly 4,000,000,000 trams/drams for more than 200 priority projects in provinces. This is important in two ways. First, it enables people to remain in their homes, dwelling throughout the country, thus making it more resistant to Turkic attacks from the east and west. Second, it helps ameliorate decades of Soviet era neglect when the focus of development was Yerevan. Our homeland must be developed and firm throughout, not just in the capital.
Finally, just as I had a drop of good news in my bad news piece, so is it necessary to not be Pollyannaish. Two news items out of Yerevan I noticed are potential problems. One is that the justice ministry seeks criminal liability for defamation of on-duty lawyers. The other was about Pashinyan griping that the media is out to damage the government through constant criticism because most outlets are owned by supporters of the previous, oligarchic, regime. While both of these items seem to have some merit, they also point in a direction that is rife with the risk of limiting, if not squelching, dissent or even simply differing opinions on policy. This must not be allowed to progress lest our homeland becomes more like Turkey, the largest jailer of journalists in the world.
Enjoy the good, but be alert and respond to the bad.