Sunday, 31 May 2020

E Editorial

National movements: Differences between the 1988 and 2018 movements

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The "velvet" revolution, or, perhaps, simply a change of power, is compared with the national movement of 1988. Both were accompanied by mass demonstrations, both aroused a wave of nationwide awakening. On this, the similarities end. The essence of both movements is different, and they have different cultures and world views.



Citizens of Soviet Armenia were brought up by the poetry of Shiraz and Paruyr Sevak. They were patriots who dreamed of the return of Ararat and the lost homeland. Soviet generations, raised on the genocide syndrome, dreamed of revenge, and this accumulated energy broke out in 1988. Many Armenians perceived local Armenian massacres in Azerbaijan as a continuation of the 1915 genocide.

In 1988, there was a single consolidating goal: "Karabakh is ours". The slogans "Unification" and "Fight, fight to the end" did not contain any worldview and state-forming problems. It was exclusively an application for historical revenge. For the sake of Artsakh people were ready to suffer hunger, corruption and illegal actions and, finally, to die. There was not even a demand for independence, and if it was discussed, then only in the context of the unification of Armenia and Artsakh as a possible scenario for achieving this goal. There was one super-goal, and everything else was secondary.

Forces that came to power as a result of the movement, speculated this issue until 2018. It is no accident that the Republican Party of Armenia and Serzh Sargsyan constantly declared that they will remain in power until the problem of Artsakh is resolved, and during the social uprisings they threatened with tension on the border. The Artsakh issue kept the society as hostage. The opposition, in the person of the ANC and Levon Ter-Petrosyan, also speculated with this problem that supposedly problems in the issues of security and economy can be solved only by concessions to Azerbaijan.

Despite the only "social demand" of the society in 1988, the Armenian leadership, secretly from society, recognized Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan in 1991 (in the CIS, and then at the time of its accession to the OSCE), and even in this matter the national demand wasn't met, however, speculation continued. The society was deceived, it was not informed that the Armenian authorities, while holding Artsakh under their control, transferred the rights to it to Azerbaijan.

However, since 1988 society has delegated one requirement to the government: to unite Artsakh with Armenia. No other "social demand" or "public contract" existed.



The movement of 2018 has yet to be comprehended. The slogan "Reject Serzh" -- in addition to the decisive principle that one must be punished for the deception of society -- has other content that still should be formulated. Rejection of Serzh means rejection of the system and relations that have been formed over the past 25 years. The deep meaning of these relations has yet to be defined and formulated. These are not only the rules of relations that have turned Armenia into a swamp, but also those institutions that are based on these relations, which must have a RESTART. One thing is clear: we need a new social contract, and the issue of Artsakh can be solved only on the basis of new realities. It will no longer be possible to plunge society into psychological traps.

1988 was based on old myths and perceptions, 2018 destroys the old to build new relationships.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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Yerevan, Armenia


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The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect those of the Center.

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