The Grand Debate

Deliberately Misleading Photo -- The parliament building in Yerevan, undated

The Prime minister takes the House floor, defines the government’s motion in a calm, self-assured way. States the need, brings the argument, dwells on key examples. All it takes is 7 minutes.

The opposition speaker steps in, blasts the PM’s definition, comes down hard on him with a couple of counter-arguments. Makes it known, that they’ve got more examples.

Opposition supporters in the House bang the tables in a reserved demonstration of support..

A rare quality of debate. I find it hard to believe, that the debaters are Armenians.

A truly mature debate. I find it hard to believe, that the average age of debaters is 22.

A two-week educational camp organized with the initiative of International Debate Education Association is coming to the end. More than three dozens of young Armenian women and men (only 4 guys!), have gone through a demanding training process on every aspect of Parliamentary Debate to reach this very exciting Grand Final Debate.

Armenian Debate Culture?

An argument full of insults and mutual accusations broke up in the Armenian Parliament back in November 30, 2011, pointing to the total lack of debating culture and basic manners among Armenian MPs.

“Good Lord!” I thought to myself at that point. “And these are the people who make laws for my country?”

The Solution

In a matter of days the group of bright, but rather undisciplined training participants underwent a miraculous transformation as an international team of trainers: Lublin University’s Sergey Naumoff, Anna Merkurievia of the St Petersburg debating association and IDEA UK’s Alexander Cavell, along with Armenian trainers Lucine Arakelyan and Anahit Galikyan progressed with their curiculum.

Armenia has no developed culture of university-level or post-graduate debating. The above-mentioned Armenian debate trainers, Anahit and Lucine, are involved in an initiative of bringing debating to Armenian schools.

There are a couple of new initiatives to widen the scope of debate education and perhaps bring it to the University level.

With time, effort and more investment, hopefully things will change and we will see much needed meaningful debates in the Armenian Parliament as well. As these brilliant young people from the Debate Camp go back to their lives, I somehow feel very optimistic for Armenia.

PS: The best debate speaker at the camp is Mariam Muradian. She’s a charismatic, bright young lady who lays out her arguments with such a masterful combination of logic, structure and persuasion, that the listener starts nodding before realizing: “Yeh! She talks sense!” Looking at Mariam, I catch myself on the thought, that emerging young female leaders in Armenia are the best hope we got for this country’s future.

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4 thoughts on “The Grand Debate

    1. I very much hope, that they will be successful in Armenia. And in fact – they are. They were either students, or working professionals. All had had quite a lot of achievements in Armenia and abroad.

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