On a Crossroad of Historic Trajectories: Specific Features of the Sociopolitical Development of Armenia, From the End of the Soviet Empire to the Present

Prof. Gregory Areshian

In the course of the three decades that elapsed since the collapse of the Soviet Union it became evident that the unifying centripetal impact of the Soviet regime was not sufficient to create a sociopolitical trend that could keep the fifteen former Soviet nation-republics within the limits of a single trajectory of similar Post-Soviet political developments. The desire of sovereignty, self-governance, and liberty on national, organizational, familial, and individual levels coupled with external economic, political, and cultural attractors and local, as well as regional historic traditions created the divergent pathways of Post-Soviet societies. This requires a reassessment of relationships between models of sociopolitical developments on different scales: from global to local. It could also shed light on the perceived opposition between the concepts of Hegelian deterministic particularism and universalization and globalization of democracy. The liberation of Armenia from the Soviet Empire was the result of the collapse of the latter to which the movement for liberalization in Armenia contributed to some extent. But liberalization did not develop in concert with the democratization of society, instead, it was intrinsically linked to demands for resolution of historic problems that Armenia and the Armenians had with their neighbors: Azerbaijan (the Gharabagh conflict that emerged in the 18th century) and Turkey  (conflict inherited from the First World War). Thus, liberalization without democratization resulted at first in a struggle for survival of the fittest in the context of an authoritarian regime, which was followed by corrupt liberal oligarchy. The characteristic feature of that political system was its development in democratic forms, but without democratic content. The successful popular peaceful uprising that took place in April 2018 under the name of “velvet revolution” put an end to the previous regime, attracting international attention and raising high expectations, both domestically and internationally, with regard to the future of Armenia. Currently, the populace of Armenia attained an unprecedented level of individual and group freedom, which, in an environment of insufficient development of state institutions and exceptional weakness of civil society, sometimes manifests itself in episodic anarchistic expressions and imposes exceptional responsibility on the executive branch of the government.