Levon Zurabyan: “The burden of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict heavily lies on Armenia”
Soon Armenia will mark the first year of the Velvet Revolution. In spring 2018, the oppositionist Nikol Pashinyan and his supporters managed to organize mass protests of citizens against self-appointment of ex-president Serzh Sargsyan to the position of Prime Minister of the republic and to make Sargsyan resign. That’s how Pashinyan take office. Vestnik Kavkaza interviewed the Deputy President of the Armenian National Congress Levon Zurabyan on the social and economic situation in Armenia after one year on the Velvet Revolution.
- In your opinion, how did internal political situation in Armenia change since Nikol Pashinyan came to power?
- We still have tensions but tensions are typical for any democratic society, it’s quite natural. There are many disputes over ideology, geopolitical orientation, issues of peace and war. I don’t see a disintegration of the society. However, kleptocratic oligarchs attempt to return power. Of course, this is only their desire. Their plans to restore their significance in Armenia have nothing in common with the reality.
The fact is that the revolution which took place in the republic was democratic. The new government tries to lead Armenia toward democracy. We, non-parliamentary parties, do our best to help them. We criticize them if they make mistakes or do something wrong. Armenia is still in an intricate situation because of the Karabakh conflict, the blockade of the border, a difficult socio-economic situation created by 20 years of the kleptocratic regime of Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan. We have to get out of the pit and the new government is focused on the internal situation as the country faces a lot of challenges.
- How much did the influence of Western countries on Armenian politics grow during this period?
- I believe the West has always influenced Armenia. Probably, its influence is slightly growing. On the other hand, Russia influences Armenia greatly. If would be very unfavorable for the country to witness a contest for influence in it. The Armenian government, the Armenian society, the Armenian political elite should make Russia and the West not to compete for Yerevan, not to make a proxy war. In contrast, we want to achieve harmonization of interests to turn Armenia not in a West-Russia war area but in an area of competition between Russian and Western investments. For that end, the Armenian sovereignty should strengthen, and democracy is the best way to do it. If the nation chooses its government, there will be no dangerous influences from abroad.
- Can improvement of the economic situation, including a growth of foreign investments, in Armenia be real, considering preservation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
- The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the blockade of borders, as well as spending for the army and weapons are a heavy burden that lies on the country, the society, and the government. Looking back at the past years, we saw how the situation was worsened by the kleptocratic regime of Kocharyan and Sargsyan. Now we should wait to see what will happen to the country after elimination of the kleptocratic element. It’s a kind of experiment which results are difficult to predict. Today the main reason of sound powers in the society is to focus on improvement of democracy and economy and attraction of foreign investments to Armenia