by Richard Giragosian
3 April 2013
For the Turkish government, the month of April has always been a particularly tense period for anyone raising the “Armenian issue,” as the annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide each April has usually heightened Turkish paranoia. This month, April 2013, is no exception, and has even surpassed expectations as the long-awaited launch of new flights between Van and the Armenian capital Yerevan were unexpectedly canceled.
23 February 2013
Post-Election Armenia: many analysts, including me, under-estimated the severity of discontent and unfairly under-appreciated the appeal of opposition candidate Raffi Hovannisian, who has now emerged as a potential “agent of change” in Armenia.
As much of the opposition is now standing behind Hovhannisian, they are more significantly uniting against the government. But it also affirms the weakness of the main opposition parties for failing to unite before the election.
With the official election results are challenged by many, more importantly, the current political struggle is less about the specific results, and more about the general opposition to the current government. In this way, the campaign is only continuing, even beyond the election itself.
The opposition to Sarkisian is only growing, with both a more dynamic scale and an expanding scope, but there is also a general, and perhaps dangerous, lack of clear or coherent strategy behind this new-found momentum of opposition to the government. And in order to succeed, there must be a strategic articulation of more concrete demands and more precise political goals.Given the broader situation and underling discontent, the situation may be moving toward a more heated and intense conflict, similar to 2008, which was never fully resolved and certainly never sincerely addressed.
It is simply too early to say at this point how things will develop, however, but also depends as much on the Armenian government’s reaction, or over-reaction, to this mounting crisis. Nevertheless, the Armenian people are demanding more of a choice and more of a voice in politics. And there is an opportunity inherent in this crisis, to force open the closed political and economic systems. Armenia’s “oligarchs” should begin packing their bags now, and buy one-way tickets to Dubai……
New, updated and in-depth analysis to come shortly……
31 December 2012
A prominent group of Chinese academics has warned in a bold open letter that the country risks "violent revolution" if the government does not respond to public pressure and allow long-stalled political reforms. The 73 scholars, including well-known current and retired legal experts at top universities and lawyers, said political reform had not matched the quick pace of economic expansion.
30 December 2012
See this recent piece on “think tanks,” and why the role of think tanks as a part of public policy is crucial; the role and recognition of the dynamic role of think tanks in Armenia has, fortunately, been improving recently.
“…Is government likely to be more successful by cutting off outside sources of information and expertise? The answer is no……Yet as the government faces cuts all around, it is scrambling for ideas: ideas to make its programs run faster, smoother, better. Ideas to save money, gather better data, and yes, often, to save lives. It does so with the help (if not the lead) of a rich and varied think tank and academic community. Every major government program, from tax reform to defense budget realignments, has benefited from the research and analysis of analysts who work at think tanks and in academic centers. If experts on health care or on Pakistan are not reaching out to non-government experts, they are not doing their job. And since these experts need to make a living, they must raise money for the institutions in which they work; They, unlike the government, do not have a tax base upon which to draw.
Think tanks are one of the great strengths of the country. They provide a dynamic environment of intellectual inquiry that helps to refine ideas and translate academic arguments into policy-relevant recommendations. They allow individuals who have been fast-paced operational practitioners some time to sit back and consider the history or politics of a country more deeply, and then go back and work the long hours with greater context. They provide a way for younger individuals to gain knowledge and then "deploy" that knowledge once they enter government…”
23 December 2012
An interesting new book, by Justin Yifu Lin, on development economics: “The Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Economies Can Take Off.” Lin advances a hybrid approach to the issues--a middle way between the neoliberal emphasis on markets and prices and the structuralist emphasis on market failures and government intervention. He calls it “new structuralism.”