What the election of protest leader Nikol Pashinyan as Armenia’s prime minister means for a young Armenian.
By Qnar Manoukyan
I live and work in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. When the great news was announced about Nikol Pashinyan being elected as the new prime minister, I was on my way to Republic Square, in the heart of the city.
It is very hard to express with words what I’ve witnessed today. This is a rebirth, a new awakening of the Armenian nation. I have never seen my country so thrilled, in the best meaning of the word. People of all ages, backgrounds and mindsets are sharing in this united victory. Most of them are in white t-shirts with Pashinyan’s picture or with the word “dukhov,” which means courage. They are singing, dancing, crying, smiling, hugging and congratulating each other. When the name of the new prime minister was announced everyone started chanting “yes/victory/Nikol.” May is a month of victories for Armenians and now another immense triumph has been added to the list. Yerevan is one big party now.
I am extremely proud to live in this period of my country’s history. Armenia has been in socio-economical, political crisis. It has been corrupted. Things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse. Today, everyone hopes only for positive changes in the future. We hope to become a developed, successful country where everyone has equal rights and opportunities.
Last year, I spent the second semester of my Master’s degree in Kyiv, at the Taras Shevchenko National University. I was very excited and eager to understand the Maidan revolution. Every time I walked the streets where historic events had unfolded, I was curious, asking myself why the Ukrainians succeeded and why we, in Armenia, could not do the same. I left the country believing the answer was that the right time had not yet arrived. Now, we have joined the “people of freedom.”
As a representative of Armenia’s young generation, I feel responsible for shaping the future of my country through civil society. I first joined the protests against the government in April. I was involved in closing the streets and was present every evening in Republic Square. I was inspired by the organisational part of the movement. There were calls for peaceful demonstrations and non-violent acts. Hope united many: not only in Yerevan and other major cities, but also villages, universities and schools. Obviously, it was time for change.
Civil disobedience in Armenia has taken place many times before with different consequences. From my personal perspective, the Armenian people are what make this, the Velvet Revolution, remarkable. There is no other example of such a peaceful civil disobedience in our history, where people sang or danced, did not clash with police, had barbecues on the streets and had fun. It was organized and accomplish only by Armenians without any foreign influence. Another important factor was a leader who could unite, inspire and take initiative.
I hope it will take a very short time to reap the benefits of the revolution. I’m content with the prime minister’s plans both at the national and international level. The prime minister made an announcement today on foreign policy, stressing that Armenia would continue to strengthening its ties with the EU, with a vision to liberalise the visa regime and implement the new partnership agreement. This will open new professional opportunities for Armenians and will reinforce the Armenia-EU relationship.
The Velvet Revolution is complete. It was about people and for people. We have started a better and brighter page of history.
Qnar Manoukyan is a graduate of Yerevan State University’s Regional Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratization in the Caucasus.
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