Time is Pashinyan’s worst enemy – European Policy Center on Armenia’s ‘velvet revolution’

15:35 • 31.05.18



By Amanda Paul, Senior Policy Analyst

and Dennis Sammut, Member of the EPC's Strategic Council; Director, LINKS

 

Nikol Pashinyan’s meteoric rise to the leadership of Armenia has happened unexpectedly. Widespread discontent with the administration of former president Serzh Sargsyan, youth's frustration with corrupt practices, and Pashinyan's sheer audacity turned what looked like an impossible task into a reality.

A protest movement that started quite modestly in late March, focusing primarily on trying to block the appointment of Sargsyan as the country's new prime minister with full executive powers, eventually forced the governing Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) to acquiesce to Pashinyan's demands.


The self-styled “velvet revolution” has created huge expectations. But Pashinyan’s ability to deliver remains constrained by a need to secure a popular mandate – not through the streets but the ballot box, and by Armenia’s complicated military and strategic relationship with its neighbours. Time is not on Pashinyan’s side, and there are some in Armenia who see him as a temporary inconvenience. They include corrupt oligarchs who have profited from Armenia's dysfunctional economy; small-time bureaucrats and military officers who fear to live in a more competitive environment; and elements within the RPA, which still holds a majority in parliament. They view Pashinyan as an aberration that shall eventually be jettisoned. Pashinyan hopes that the Armenian people will keep faith with him for long enough for him to start delivering the promised change.


Prioritising changes


Pashinyan understands that what the people want first and foremost is a fresh start, a better quality of life and justice against those who have pillaged Armenia since independence. Foreign and defence policy hardly featured as a theme during the street uprisings. Pashinyan has therefore opted to maintain continuity on these issues, at least for the moment. Armenia will thus remain embedded within the Russian sphere as a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), while negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh will continue in the framework of the OSCE Minsk process. His domestic agenda, however, is ambitious.


Top priorities include cracking down on corruption, rooting out the deeply entrenched oligarchic system, transitional justice and “finding the stolen money”. As Pashinyan does not have a majority in Parliament, building a broad and robust political coalition is paramount. The government’s work plan will shortly be submitted to parliament, which is expected to be accepted. The upcoming parliamentary debate will indicate the battle-lines to come.


The new government knows it must secure an electoral success to seal the victory it has achieved on the streets. There is broad consensus that snap elections should take place before the end of 2018 to capitalise on the current wave of support. But, this may not be so straightforward. Parliament is to decide the timing of elections, and the RPA opposes snap elections. It wants to buy time in the hope that disillusionment with Pashinyan will set in. The RPA has promised to play a constructive role. Nevertheless, with its tentacles still spread through all three branches of power, its capacity to undermine the new government is considerable. Pashinyan may need to call Armenians back out on the street to keep the RPA in check. However, the prospect of permanent revolution is not one that he cherishes, or that Armenia needs.


Renovating Armenia under Putin’s shadow


Russia is a critical player in every facet of Armenia's life. Russia acquiesced to the change of guard in Yerevan, even if the Kremlin was not enthusiastic about it. Its silence rattled the RPA leadership in crucial moments of the transition. When Russia finally spoke, it was with great caution – underlining that the protests were an internal matter. Moscow may have learnt from its experience in Ukraine. To avoid igniting mass anti-Russian sentiment, the Kremlin seems less keen to back unpopular leaders.


Ultimately, Russia’s position is secure due to its control over the economy and its huge stake in Armenia’s security. The lack of alternative scenarios gives little room for manoeuvre for whoever is in power. Pashinyan has thus excluded foreign and security policy from his immediate agenda. During his meeting with President Putin on 14 May, Pashinyan strongly reassured him of the importance of Armenia’s strategic relationship with Russia even though as late as 2017 Pashinyan’s parliamentary bloc submitted legislation to withdraw from the Eurasian Economic Union.


Moscow may also disapprove Pashinyan domestic reforms, especially if they threaten Russia’s economic interests. The honeymoon with Pashinyan may be short-lived.


Ultimately, Russia’s position is secure due to its control over the economy and its huge stake in Armenia’s security. The lack of alternative scenarios gives little room for manoeuvre for whoever is in power. Pashinyan has thus excluded foreign and security policy from his immediate agenda. During his meeting with President Putin on 14 May, Pashinyan strongly reassured him of the importance of Armenia’s strategic relationship with Russia even though as late as 2017 Pashinyan’s parliamentary bloc submitted legislation to withdraw from the Eurasian Economic Union.


Moscow may also disapprove Pashinyan domestic reforms, especially if they threaten Russia’s economic interests. The honeymoon with Pashinyan may be short-lived.


What role for the EU?


The European Parliament and its national counterparts are currently ratifying the new Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the EU and Armenia. CEPA’s importance has significantly grown because of the political changes in Yerevan. CEPA has widespread support in Armenia and contains tools and mechanisms that Pashinyan's willing and reform-minded government can use. Armenia's unique situation calls for a specific response from the EU. The European External Action Service should establish a task force under the chairmanship of the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus to identify the aspects of CEPA that can be fast-tracked. It should also provide technical assistance and training in critical areas and sectors. This new task force should be time-bound and operate only for a fixed one term of 12 to 18 months.


Conclusion


Pashinyan achieved an astonishing popular victory. He must now quickly deliver results and manage the aspirations of his supporters. While he has rightly prioritised internal socio-economic and governance reforms, issues related to foreign and defence policy, including on Nagorno-Karabakh, will remain. While continuity may work in the short run, Pashinyan will eventually have to become his own man on these issues. Meanwhile, the peaceful popular movement that Pashinyan has led in the past weeks shall remain a source of inspiration for others who face similar apparently hopeless situations.

 

 





Загрузка...

LATEST NEWSAll Today news

14:51 • 17/11

China takes aim at US protectionism  

14:05 • 17/11

Security of people should not be isolated from right to territorial integrity, says Nagorno-Karabakh official

12:57 • 17/11

Colorado doctors wrongly remove healthy patient’s kidneys

12:37 • 17/11

Israel heading for early elections  

12:24 • 17/11

Mars InSight coming in for landing soon on the Red Planet

11:58 • 17/11

Missing Argentine submarine found deep in the Atlantic a year after its disappearance  

11:52 • 17/11

Trump questions Mike Pence’s loyalty despite recent endorsement

11:34 • 17/11

Sasna Tsrer party conducting automobile race to Artsakh

11:07 • 17/11

California wildfires: 71 reported killed.  more than 1,000 still missing

10:54 • 17/11

Nations League: Armenia beat Gibraltar 6-2 (videos)  

10:26 • 17/11

Saudi crown prince suspected of ordering Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination

18:30 • 16/11

UN to fund human security enhancement projects in Armenia  

17:30 • 16/11

Pashinyan holds telephone conversation with Russian leader

17:23 • 16/11

Lewis Hamilton: India could have built more schools instead of hosting Formula 1

16:59 • 16/11

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: CSTO secretary general’s post should be entrusted to Armenia

16:21 • 16/11

National Assembly reforms aim to foster legislators' constitutional authority and functions, says parliamnent official

15:51 • 16/11

Monica Lewinsky reveals she exposed her thong to get Bill Clinton's attention before their first White House hook-up

15:03 • 16/11

Armenian ombudsman presents report on military aggression against border villages

14:09 • 16/11

Turkey, EU step up dialogue for meetings

13:27 • 16/11

US studying Turkey’s demands to extradite Gülen  

13:18 • 16/11

2020 Toyota Corolla hybrid to debut at LA auto show

12:09 • 16/11

Emergency Ministry warns of heavy-going motorways in Armenia

11:49 • 16/11

Apple signs deal with Oscar-winning production company to make original movies  

11:29 • 16/11

Russian intervention in Karabakh conflict will be inevitable in case of Azerbaijani threats to Armenia, says expert

10:42 • 16/11

New tests can predict IVF embryos’ risk of having low IQ

10:21 • 16/11

Botswana named Africa’s best Safari country 2018

10:04 • 16/11

US-led coalition strikes kill two dozen Syrian civilians

09:52 • 16/11

Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of genocide

09:36 • 16/11

ServiceTitan, start-up co-founded by US-Armenians, secures $165m in venture funding

09:21 • 16/11

US optimistic about prosecuting Assange

17:42 • 15/11

Armenian defense delegation conducts official visit to Bulgaria

17:23 • 15/11

Florida election recount nears deadline as Trump stirs pot with baseless claim

17:11 • 15/11

Pound Sterling crashes amid Brexit reports

16:55 • 15/11

Turkey seeks extradition of 452 people in 83 countries for FETÖ cases

16:43 • 15/11

Khashoggi case: Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty for journalist’s murder

16:24 • 15/11

Artsakh's international recognition 'key foreign policy priority', says foreign minister

15:38 • 15/11

Ancient city of Tenea uncovered in Greece

14:48 • 15/11

Gazprom-Armenia director slams attempts to spot company’s ‘good image’

14:06 • 15/11

Wimbledon finalist retires from tennis at 29

14:00 • 15/11

Dostoevsky novel among hundreds of book banned in Kuwait

13:52 • 15/11

California fire town needs ‘total rebuild’

13:40 • 15/11

'He's a Duchy Original!' Buckingham Palace celebrates Prince Charles’ 70 birthday  

13:28 • 15/11

Brexit: EU Barnier warns of 'long road ahead'

13:07 • 15/11

Armenian cabinet considers procedures for open-door meetings

11:40 • 15/11

168 Zham: Europe ‘closely following’ developments in pre-electoral Armenia

11:05 • 15/11

Turkey calls for international probe into Khashoggi murder

10:44 • 15/11

Ardshinbank named winner of Eikon Award 2018 by Thomson Reuters

10:35 • 15/11

Archaeologists unearth small warrior statues found from 2100-year-old pit in China

09:59 • 15/11

Aznavour son to release post-humus album dedicated to singer

09:43 • 15/11

Trump aide forced out of office after showdown with first lady

09:13 • 15/11

Toxic year: Oxford dictionaries name word of 2018

17:58 • 14/11

Hollywood Red Carpet cancelled after wildfires

17:47 • 14/11

Apple designers unveil dazzling one-of-a-kind ring 'cut entirely out of one single diamond'

17:24 • 14/11

Israel's defense chief resigns, slamming Netanyahu for 'surrendering to Hamas terror'

17:01 • 14/11

Armenia’s acting social and labor minister steps down ‘to join parliamentary campaign’

16:21 • 14/11

Parliamentary election 2018: Pro-Pashinyan bloc unveils candidates' list

15:55 • 14/11

Russian-Armenian military alliance ‘powerful restraint’ against Turkish-Azerbaijani aggression

15:31 • 14/11

Georgia to facilitate imports to Armenia

14:49 • 14/11

Prince Charles' 70th birthday marked with family photo release

14:25 • 14/11

US to meet 7,000-strong caravan with barbed wires at Tijuana border

13:51 • 14/11

Major tax evasion scheme revealed in Gazprom-Armenia

13:12 • 14/11

CNN sues Trump administration, demands return of reporter’s press credentials

12:02 • 14/11

El Chapo: Trial of Mexican cartel boss opens in New York

11:35 • 14/11

Armenians suspected of UK cryptocurrency scam

11:10 • 14/11

Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte: Mutual expectations between Armenia and diaspora 'distance us further from each other'

10:44 • 14/11

Crude oil extends steep dive, stocks fall on growth fears

10:28 • 14/11

Israel and Hamas agree on Gaza ceasefire after intense violence

10:23 • 14/11

Zhoghovurd: Armenia’s international reserves drop sharply to record low

09:48 • 14/11

Facebook bug let websites read ‘likes’ and interests from a user’s profile

09:42 • 14/11

Exceptionally large 'Pink Legacy' diamond fetches record-breaking $50m at Christie's

09:30 • 14/11

Melania Trump calls for White House aide’s firing

17:55 • 13/11

Stars pay tribute to Marvel Comics pioneer, Stan Lee, dead at 95

17:38 • 13/11

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West paid for private firefighters to save their mansion and neighbors' homes from California wildfires  

17:21 • 13/11

Kocharyan sues businesswoman ‘for libel’  

16:55 • 13/11

'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence, says Turkey's Erdoğan

16:47 • 13/11

Toy Story 4 trailer: first teaser for new film released

15:24 • 13/11

OSCE/ODIHR ‘has no prejudiced approach’ to December  9 election in Armenia

14:38 • 13/11

French army troll Trump with picture of them training in rain

13:48 • 13/11

CSTO postponed secretary general’s election ‘due to lack of consensus’

13:05 • 13/11

Samsung’s Galaxy F foldable phone gets a price and release date in new report

12:08 • 13/11

OSCE/ODIHR to conduct 'large-scale' election observation in Armenia

11:07 • 13/11

People’s Party of Armenia ‘not to run for parliament’

10:49 • 13/11

US not concerned by Europe's idea for Iran trade as companies moving out

10:35 • 13/11

168 Zham: Upcoming parliamentary election ‘key foreign policy test’ for Armenia  

10:03 • 13/11

Canadian intelligence ‘has heard’ Khashoggi murder tape  

09:46 • 13/11

California wildfire: At least 42 reported killed in deadliest blaze

09:38 • 13/11

NATO comments on idea of ​​creating a pan-European army

09:12 • 13/11

Israel bombs Hamas TV station in Gaza

18:56 • 12/11

VivaCell-MTS releases CSR report in line with GRI international standards

15:03 • 10/11

Kocharyan's lawyers apply to ECHR, alleging procedural breaches of domestic law

14:08 • 10/11

Parliamentary Election 2018: Republic party and Free Democrats agree to join campaign 'as a single team'

13:26 • 10/11

Turkey urges UN to reform Security Council

13:14 • 10/11

Impact of anti-Iran cushioned by high oil prices, EU-US rift

12:09 • 10/11

SCORPION IS-15: First Armenian-manufactured military robot tested (video)

11:42 • 10/11

Trump limits asylum from Mexico border

11:21 • 10/11

Thrifty Kate strikes again! Duchess of Cambridge recycles six-year-old Jenny Packham dress as she joins Prince William at the Tusk Conservation Awards

11:08 • 10/11

Thousands of swarming spiders carpet Arkansas highway with thick webs in a 'mating party'

10:14 • 10/11

California reels as the most destructive wildfire in the state's history kills at least 9 in the north razing 6,500 homes

18:01 • 09/11

Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair fetches $393,000 at Christie’s

17:46 • 09/11

Manchester United need to grow up - Maurinho