1⃣In 2018 The Economist proclaimed Armenia🇦🇲 the country of the year
What prompted the leading global weekly to put such
an intense spotlight on a small and peripheral country?
2⃣ or frequently “Reject Serzh,”or the “Revolution of Love,” the “Sneakers Revolution,” but definitely not a “colour” revolution.
Some Armenian🇦🇲 politicians did not call it a revolution at all even as it was happening.
Others did but changed their mind later.
3⃣ But strategic assessment takes time.
And the global diplomatic roller-coaster does not allow those in charge to simply revert to past actions.
4⃣ The common foreign policy of the #EU🇪🇺 still attracts a lot of criticism-as much as the performance of the office of its high representatives.
Big EU states are blamed for pushing their national
foreign policy agenda independently and trying to use the
common foreign policy
5⃣ mechanism mainly for pedagogical purposes-to align smaller EU states with their views
6⃣ At the same time, common foreign policy has its undeniable achievements.
One of the most difficult tests has been the war in Ukraine and the policy towards Russia
Despite much pressure, the EU has been able to stick to its principles, maintain sanctions
7⃣ The high representatives have played leading roles in the Iranian nuclear deal and Kosovo-Serbia reconciliation, both examples of relevance.
Yet they have been absent from the Normandy
Format on Ukraine or the Minsk Group on Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh)
8⃣Armenia🇦🇲 is one country where the main leverage the EU🇪🇺 has had at its disposal is development assistance
Together with its Member States the Union has accounted for roughly 60% of all foreign assistance to Armenia in recent years
As in the case of Georgia Moldova and Ukraine
9⃣Armenia🇦🇲has never stated that it sees its future in the EU🇪🇺; however, it has declared on many occasions, before and after the revolution, that it shares common values with the EU
🔟As one Armenian civil society activist observed before the revolution, “because of weak internal legitimacy the regime needed strong external legitimacy”
In 2019 EU aid exceed €70 million
The EU🇪🇺 has provided more than half a billion euros to Armenia🇦🇲 since its independence
1⃣1⃣EU🇪🇺assistance is not meant to be charity
It is not about alleviating the hardships experienced by a poor country even if Armenia🇦🇲for many years has been categorized as the second poorest country in the wider EU
Assistance is meant to promote modernization and foster reforms
1⃣2⃣ The defensive reflex, especially on the part of managers, is to go for big projects.
In Armenia🇦🇲, this meant a preference for large infrastructure projects or large comprehensive contracts.
This resulted by 2019 in more than €150 million
in frozen or unused funds
1⃣3⃣ The EU🇪🇺 in recent years has been involved in supporting areas that inevitably have political connotations, for example, reform of the judiciary
By 2018, the Union had invested more than
€50 million in reforming the Armenian🇦🇲 judiciary
The money was generally spent well
1⃣4⃣ in projects related to, for instance, e-governance projects dealing with legal services
1⃣5⃣From 2016 the Armenian🇦🇲side was supposed to implement quite an innovative instrument-the Human Rights Budget Support Agreement
Armenians had difficulty in carrying out some of its benchmarks such as those relating to the conduct of elections or preventing domestic violence
1⃣6⃣By 2018 of the more than €30 million allocated to Armenia🇪🇺 to help it fight corruption only about half of it could be spent because of the unsatisfactory performance on the part of the government
1⃣7⃣but the public on the other hand appreciated the critical voice of theEU
This voice has earned public sympathy for the EU🇪🇺
When the EU was praising the gov’s determination to adopt legislation on illicit enrichment or domestic violence the opposition was visibly disappointed
1⃣8⃣Obviously it is difficult to predict revolutions
Paradoxically it is quite easy to explain why they had to happen
1⃣9⃣The 2018 Armenian🇦🇲 Revolution, like others, appeared at the time as a big surprise to everybody-the authorities, the foreign partners, the people and even to the leaders of the revolution themselves.
2⃣0⃣ The level of dissatisfaction was high.
In a country where the official poverty rate was higher than 30%, the level of unemployment higher than 40%, and the level of emigration higher than 10% of the population in the last 10 years-frustration is more than legitimate.
2⃣1⃣ The anger periodically reached the level of condensation
Now and then the people went to the streets to manifest their emotions
In the years 2015–2018 it happened more than once
2⃣1⃣As in every revolt, the spark was very pedestrian.
That time it was the price of electricity.
The protests marked the unknown before the rise of social
media and internet mobilization.
This also helped to make the protests (unlike some previous) more known internationally.
2⃣2⃣ The April 2016 war in Nagorno-Karabakh had a shocking effect on the mindset of Armenians🇦🇲.
2⃣3⃣Westerners had heard this view as a near mantra complemented by the explanation that the alliance with Russia🇷🇺was motivated exclusively by the Turkish🇹🇷factor in any conflict scenario
It became real that the Azerbaijanis🇦🇿 were winning the arms race and time is on their side
2⃣4⃣The perception of Russia🇷🇺 was put in a new light
Armenians🇦🇲 were greatly disturbed by the fact that the Azeri side was using military equipment supplied to Azerbaijan🇦🇿 by Russia
Quite sizable crowds of protesters gathered not once in front of the Russian Embassy in Yerevan
2⃣5⃣ The crowning argument claimed by the then authorities that although they had failed to deliver economic prosperity, they were solid in delivering security, became quite shaky
Armenians🇦🇲 were stunned by the news that their soldiers were not equipped properly
2⃣6⃣ because the money allocated for the army was lost to corruption schemes
Armenians realized that corruption had become a matter of national security
2⃣7⃣The vast majority of Armenians🇦🇲considered the Tsrer attack and hostage-taking as a criminal act if not even a totally unacceptable terrorist attack
Yet, thousands of Armenians who condemned the act as such went to the streets to express their solidarity with their motives
2⃣8⃣ Many observers, including foreign ones, feared a
possible angry popular reaction to the Armenian🇦🇲 April 2017 parliamentary elections.
The authorities deployed police forces discretely (away from the eyes of foreign observers) in some central quarters of the city.
2⃣9⃣ The opposition cried foul again, accusing the ruling party of manipulations.
Against all fears, despite the quite poor results of the
opposition, the streets were quiet.
For the first time since themid-1990s, there was no “street action” after the elections.
3⃣0⃣ Most of the so-called colour revolutions elsewhere were provoked by unfair elections.
3⃣1⃣ Technically, the elections were held to a much better standard than before.
Thanks to the technology employed, some of
the traditional skulduggery like ballot-box stuffing, carousel voting, and tabulation falsification were much more difficult to repeat.
3⃣2⃣ Yet, their overall perception was full of distaste.
They were heavily stained by massive vote-buying practices. To some extent, the new electoral code with its so-called ranking system encouraged dirty methods among candidates, including primarily within the same party.
3⃣3⃣ But the main reason was mobilization at any costs by the local leaders of the Republican Party who, a few days before the election, began to panic that they might have to face a run-off in the so-called second round
of the election where the outcome would be unpredictable.
3⃣4⃣ Rumors were spreading that Prosperous Armenia (led by local oligarch Gagik Tsarukyan) might even come in first.
“If we lose, you will all go to jail”
3⃣5⃣ Whether justified or not, the fears pushed the party activists to use all possible ways, including bribes and administrative pressure or direct blackmail, to win votes.
And they did.
3⃣6⃣After the 2017 parliamentary elections, the mood of the Armenian🇦🇲society was even gloomier than before.
“We behaved like zombies,” confessed one civil society member to a Western diplomat.
3⃣7⃣According to some opinion polls a few years ago, Armenia🇦🇲 was the most nostalgic about the Soviet Union-more than Russia🇷🇺, more than Belarus🇧🇾.
In some respects, it cannot be surprising.
During the Soviet times, Armenia was relatively prosperous.
3⃣8⃣Huge industrial enterprises were built even whole
new industrial towns
Armenia🇦🇲a republic at its peak of some 4 million people, even had its own car factory manufacturing a vehicle called “Yeraz”, meaning poetically“Dream”
deriving from the acronym of the Yerevan car
3⃣9⃣ The collapse of the Soviet Union coincided for Armenia🇦🇲 with war sacrifices and an economic meltdown.
The tragic 1988 earthquake killed some 35,000 people and razed to the ground the second-biggest Armenian city—Gyumri, as well as other towns and villages.
4⃣0⃣‘90s marked a period of hardship in the life of the population-food shortages a few hours of electricity per day heating problems
In 1991–94 the GDP fell to the level constituting 60% of the Sov Union era, more than 500000 Armenians left the country, arable land was abandoned
4⃣1⃣Armenia🇦🇲 was quite a vibrant and genuine democracy the first years after independence, was in fact born on mass civic activism
The first elections in Armenia, were very transparent and fair
From the second half of the 1990s, Armenia gradually
became a democracy in name only
4⃣2⃣ The centralization of power inevitably led to the
oligarchisation of politics, the emergence of political cronyism and limitations on the room for political freedom and activism
Stability became the keyword of the rulers. Underneath, the
political power was expanding
4⃣3⃣to take control of all relevant public institutions, the economy, media and other spheres of daily life
Some people, quite many of them sometimes, convinced
themselves that it was the best way forward, for the society
and them personally
The state, they argued, must be strong
4⃣5⃣The Rose Revolution,2003 in Georgia, the Orange
Revolution 2004 in Ukraine the Tulip Revolution 2005
&the Melon Revolution 2010 in Kyrgyzstan &the
2009 Twitter Revolution in Moldova were the first serious
disruptions in the process of state capture by the post-Soviet elites
4⃣6⃣The tension that was growing prior to the 2018 Armenian revolution was not political, ideological, or geopolitical in nature.
It was way intergenerational.
Old generation looked to the past to compare with
their current reality they saw the better life had passed
They believed thatthe way forward isto try recreating some
good things from the past
HomoSovieticus or rather postSovieticus
4⃣8⃣ The new generation, in turn, looked to the West.
They cared little about the past. They wanted a better future, which they associated with the Western level of well being, freedom, and social welfare.
4⃣9⃣The crowd filling the streets and the squares of
Armenia🇦🇲 was very young
Mainly students or well educated professionals (some jobless)
Most of them were born after Armenia acquired independence
They had no recollection of the Soviet time and no
stigma of the Soviet mentality
5⃣0⃣ The population of Armenia🇦🇲 has declined in the last 30 years from 3.7 million to 3 million.
Demography became an existential challenge for the
The boldest of young Armenians went for the voice option.
5⃣1⃣One of the remarkable features of the Armenian🇦🇲 revolution was the participation of many adolescents, including children
School principals tried to prevent itby locking the school doors tokeep them in
Teenagers and students visibly took part blocking major streets in Yerevan
5⃣2⃣Besides youth, the other pillar of the Armenian🇦🇲 revolution was Women.
The images of demonstrations typically are dominated by the faces of angry men.
The pictures from the Armenian revolution are full of smiling women.
5⃣3⃣New element that emerged in the past years leading to the revolution were broad grassroots movements formed around environmental and local issues
Teghut Civic Initiative, Protect Trchkan Waterfall Mov. & Mashtots Park Init. had broad public support in the years of 2012-14
5⃣4⃣Organisations such as Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor, “Asparez” Journalists Club, Transp. Intern.Anti-Corruption Centre, Europe in Law Association, Union of Informed Citizens, Progressive Youth played an important role in fighting for the defense of European🇪🇺 standards
5⃣5⃣Sometimes the government did listen and responded with quite neurotic irritation
In November 2016 the Armenian civil society platform within the Eastern partnership drafted a resolution on political prisoners in Armenia🇦🇲
The regime went very far to prevent it from adoption
5⃣6⃣ threatening even to put the country’s membership in the Eastern Partnership on hold.
5⃣7⃣Civic activism at the local, community level was visibly weak, from the legacy of the Soviet Union
The Soviet system discouraged free initiatives and self reliance
5⃣8⃣ With the collapse of the Soviet Union, these reflexes were revealed as a syndrome of “learned helplessness.”
It was quite upsetting to see that in most villages people simply accepted that nothing could be done to improve their community life.
5⃣9⃣ This image contrasted with the very high reputation of Armenians🇦🇲 in the diaspora who are known for very high levels of community activism.
And indeed, for centuries Armenians learned that when they had no real state, they had to rely on themselves.
6⃣0⃣ Yet, by the summer of 2017, some cracks in the ruling
camp came into view. Analysts were talking about the growing tension between the old camarilla of Sargsyan, his Republican Party hongweibings on the one side, and the technocrats around Karapetyan, on the other.
6⃣1⃣For most Armenians, it was clear that if in 2018 Karapetyan had been appointed prime minister instead of Sargsyan, the revolution would not have happened
However, by summer 2017 some comments made by the officials of the Repub. P. hinted that succession was not in the cards.
6⃣2⃣it is about saying and doing the right things at the right time. History is full of cases when politicians were saying the right things and trying to do the right things but at the wrong moment
6⃣3⃣Some opposition groups tried to mobilize society against the prolongation of Sargsyan’s rule, but the assemblies and marches did not attract big crowds.
Fewer than 1,000 people were on Azatutyun Square , not more than 200 people gathered on Melik-Adamyan Street
6⃣4⃣in March and the beginning of April 2018.
These demonstrations did not capture the attention of ordinary Armenians, who appeared to be immersed in deep apathy.
6⃣5⃣The son of a sports teacher Pashinyan came to prominence in 1995 when he began writing about gov. corruption
6⃣6⃣When Sargsyan was elected president in 2008, Pashinyan was among the leaders of protests that turned violent and left 10 people dead
At that point he went into hiding, surrendering to authorities the following year and jailed on charges of murder and organizing mass unrest
6⃣7⃣ he was eventually released under amnesty in 2011
In 2012 he was first elected to Armenia🇦🇲’s parliament
Pashinyan fell 8 votes short of the 53 he needed to secure a majority in the 105seat chamber on 2018 elections when he did not persuade the ruling Republicans to back him
6⃣8⃣ It was all about timing, a series of tweets that prove that the Armenian🇦🇲 Revolution was genuine:
6⃣9⃣ When the army joins the Revolution all it needs to succeed is a Man-Woman to put a face on it
That man was @NikolPashinyan
7⃣0⃣ And that is why they called it the “Velvet Revolution”
7⃣1⃣ These happy faces of young and full of hope people are NO WAY puppets of a “color revolution”
This is an authentic popular movement.
7⃣2⃣Mass demonstrations were sweeping Yerevan as people demanded the resignation of former President and newly appointed Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan
7⃣3⃣ The man of the hour, @NikolPashinyan was in the streets with his co-patriots.
He led Armenia🇦🇲 through the Revolution and after.
Because of Putin and his preference in status quo.
“Secret delegations have scuttled in and out of Yerevan, rumoured to have included the presidential chief of staff Vaino. On Thursday, Armenia’s foreign minister was in Moscow.”
7⃣5⃣Later that day, Vladimir Putin spoke with acting PM Karapetyan.
The Armenian crisis should be resolved quickly, within the constitution, and “on the basis of the results of the legitimate parliamentary elections held in April 2017”
THE FAKE ONES.
7⃣6⃣ Here is a three part video that tells the story of the
“Velvet Revolution” by the excellent VisualPolitik YouTube channel
7⃣6⃣ The “Velvet Revolution” by the excellent VisualPolitik YouTube channel
The “Velvet Revolution” by the excellent VisualPolitik YouTube channel
Did the Armenian🇦🇲 Velvet Revolution failed?
Did @NikolPashinyan failed?
7⃣9⃣Nationwide poll of Armenia🇦🇲Dec 2019, by IRI shows strong support for the government’s anti-corruption efforts and an optimistic view of the country’s trajectory
Citizens wish to see further action on socioeconomic concerns and transitional justice
8⃣0⃣ Sources for this thread: