My younger son is turning 2 today. Daddy’s pride, daddy’s boy!!! Can there be anything more gratifying, than watch two charming little angles grow up, turn 2, turn 10, go to school, army, university… make a family? And yet, I am troubled and depressed today, because I’m uncertain about my country’s future and all I see is a dim and flickering light at the end of the tunnel.
Armenian economy is slowly recovering from a steep downturn, which resulted in a 14.4% GDP decline last year. This year the economy is expected to grow 4.5 percent. Big businesses and oligarchs don’t seem to have reasons to withdraw their support for President Serzh Sargsian, despite constant criticism of economic policies from the radical opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and a mild power-struggles between the two main forces in the country’s ruling coalition – the Republican party and the “Bargavach Hayastan” (Prosperous Armenia or BHK) party. Social tensions triggered by economic downturn are easing too, and with the external factors becoming more favorable, seems like the main challenge to the incumbent authorities, the economy, won’t pose further danger in the next three-four years.
Sargsian and his Republican party don’t have any serious political opponents either. The upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in 2012 and 2013 respectively, will most probably end in their ‘landslide’ victories. Those might be followed by more opposition rallies, protest actions and negative assessments by international organizations re the state of democracy, but who cares?
BHK party, which could be the only real challenge for Republicans in terms of financial and administrative resources, will be tamed down in due time. All it takes is a private conversation between Serzh Sargsian and BHK leader, Gagik Tsarukian, Armenia’s richest businessman, about the fate of Khachatur Suqiasian, another mega-rich oligarch, who lost everything after rendering his ‘bold’ support for HAK before 2008 presidential elections.
HAK, on the other hand, headed by Armenia’s First President Levon Ter-Petrossian, doesn’t seem to have anything to offer the Armenian public. He blasts the authorities, prophesizes about doom, points out the obvious failures… all good and well, but over the past year, I haven’t seen Ter-Petrossian or HAK come up with any alternative policies. Nor have other serious political forces, like Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaktstutyun or “Zharangutyun” (Heritage), joined them. Frankly, there is no proper opposition today in this country, to speak of.
The growing number of border clashes along the contact line of Armenian and Azerbaijani forces and lack of progress, if not regress in Karabakh talks, increasingly signal the approach of war. It also means there’s no hope for progress on Armenian – Turkish normalization side.
The small, landlocked country may survive and even prosper economically, but in this circle of hostility and political stagnation, with the regime, established since 1998 set to last at least till 2020, what can we expect in terms of the society’s development?
I see more concentration of power and money in the hands of oligarchs, more corruption. The scare of external enemy and racist notions of internal enemy will continue to be exploited, by the authorities to fend off criticism and public discontent with oligarchic rule. All alternative thought will be strangled at birth, along with any hope for equal opportunities for anyone outside the ruling oligarchic circle.
What does the future bring for me and my family? What can I give my boys on their next birthday? Is there any hope for any of the thousands of young Armenian families like mine, working hard and struggling to make it?
I’m a hard worker, my sons will learn that for sure. But when I don’t see how working hard can help me and my family, let alone the country, will I have motivation to wake up the next day and look in the eyes of my boys? Will I have the motivation to go on? …and will they?