Hello, and welcome to the
Armenian News Network, Groong, Week
in Review. This Week we’re going to talk about the following major topics:
The Government’s 5-year Plan
Russia Rearming Armenia. And Artsakh?
Press Freedoms Curtailed in Parliament
Topics from the Panelists
Professionalism in Politics
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
Asbed Kotchikian, who is
an Associate Professor of political science and international relations at the
American University of Armenia.
Hrant Mikaelian, who is a
political scientist and multidisciplinary researcher in social sciences at the
Caucasus Institute, based in Yerevan.
Last week Pashinyan unveiled a new
5-year plan as his government’s guiding document. It’s
highly aspirational, so here are the top ideas from the plan, and if you want
to see them they’re in our show notes on our website:
this document will work hand-in-hand with the Prime Minister’s Armenia Transformation Strategy by 2050
plan from a year ago.
Reforming the armed forces to secure the nation
Active and proactive foreign policy
Strategic alliance with Russia and the CSTO
Working with the OSCE to determine a status for
Nagorno-Karabakh, that’s Artsakh
Opening regional infrastructures to enhance
stable regional environment
Annual economic growth of 7-9%
Minimum monthly salary raised to 68K AMD (from
current 55K), and finally ro 85K
Poverty level below 10%, extreme poverty 0%
upgrades with EU support: Roads, reservoirs, etc.
Child support: 3rd child and above get 50K
AMD/month until age 6.
Kotchikian: What were your takeaways
from this 5-year plan?
Hrant: Are the economic growth targets reasonable?
Outside of the large Euro investment in Armenian infrastructure, what would be
the drivers of a 7-9% annual growth?
How will the government support taking minimum monthly salaries from 55K to 68K and finally
to 85K? That’s a 55% raise from current levels. Does the math add up? Is it
funded by additional national debt?
News broke out earlier this week that Russia has
started rearming Armenia. Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev
loudly complained that Armenian troops and weaponry are also
making their way through the Lachin corridor to
Artsakh, and said that he sees no need for rearming Armenia because the war has
ended. Later in the week Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
said that supplying arms to other countries is Russia’s sovereign right, and
that “confrontational” and “bellicose” statements do not help the peace process
in the South Caucasus. She was clearly alluding to Aliyev’s statements on CNN
Turk, although she didn’t name him.
Meanwhile, the tripartite negotiations between
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia have restarted, about opening communications,
primarily through Armenia.
Is Russia rearming Armenia? Why now? And what do
you think about the quality and quantity of this process? What about armaments
flowing into Artsakh?
Given this bellicose rhetoric on the part of
Aliyev and how it dissolves trust among the members of the November Agreement
signatories, how can they actually be restarting
the negotiations around Point 9 of the agreement about opening
Russia has made statements about maintaining the
balance of power in the South Caucasus. Is a resumption of war likely, and do
you think that is the scenario that Russia has in mind?
We discussed the government’s 5-year plan
earlier, and one of the line items was reforming the military. Is the Russian
rearming of Armenia’s military complementary to this reform?
Since the start of his term as parliament
speaker for the 8th convocation of the National Assembly, Alen Simonyan has been dealing with a heavy
hand with the press reporting on the proceedings in the parliament.
He has ordered the press removed, or photographing stopped, or live televising
halted at moments of high tension in the parliament.
At the start of the convocation, the media were
informed that they no longer had the same freedom of movement in parliament as
they did before. Specifically, it seems that they’ll now be restricted to a
“media box” which is set up at the balcony level of the national assembly.
The official reason given for this was security,
but this basically allows MPs who don’t want to deal with the press to come and
go without being questioned.
Is this the start of something sinister, or is
it an insecure government out of its league?
This week president of the Center for Press
Freedom NGO in Armenia, Shushan
Doydoyan said that the
issue of these restrictions must go to the Constitutional Court. Many NGOs have
protested about these press limitations as well. We know Civil Contract pays
great attention to international ratings and rankings, such as the Press
Freedom Index. Should these issues end up in the Constitutional Court or even
in European Courts? Will these issues hurt Armenia, or this government’s
relationship with its Western patrons?
That was our Week in Review
show, and we hope it helped you catch up with some of the issues in and around
Armenia from this past week. As always, we invite your feedback and your
suggestions. You can find us on most social media and podcast platforms, or our
On behalf of everyone in this
episode, we wish you a good week. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channels, Like our pages and follow us on social media. Thanks for
listening and we’ll talk to you next week.
Asbed kotchikian, Hrant Mikaelian, Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Georgia, South Caucasus, Turkey, Russia, Reconciliation,
Communication channels, Borders, Peace Negotiations, 5-year plan, Rearming,
Armed Forces, Army, Military reform, Press
limitations, Press Freedoms, Politics, COVID,