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Sargsyan, whose “Nagorno-Karabakh card” has already been beaten, faces popular uprising

The method “feeding dreamers a fairytale” can be effective up to certain period of time, but it does not stand against the objective factors…

Vugar Masimoghlu/ APA Analytic Center

Although in Armenia, social problems deepen with each passing year, mass protests have not covered a wide range and have not become constant. Here, mass consciousness obeys the feeling of fear and this factor plays a key role.

 

Nagorno-Karabakh is a factor that keeps the society from the protests that will lead to serious political changes. Armenian society has such a fear that "if the country's stability is broken, it can lead Azerbaijan to launch military operations and liberate Nagorno-Karabakh." Sargsyan always uses the feeling of fear for his own political interests and "if not us, then Karabakh can be lost" thesis is the main line of unofficial propaganda.

 

Even now, while mass protests continue in five Armenian cities, Sargsyan’s media resources unceasingly try to calm down mass consciousness via this thesis. We need to admit that the propaganda - “keeping Karabakh under Armenia’s control depends on the political stability” - has had certain effect up to recent years regarding Sargsyan’s interests to be in power.

The ruling party has tried to control the masses by fear and achieved it. But, now even “the fear to lose Karabakh” does not help Armenian government. There are different reasons.

 

Youth factor. New young generation has been formed in Armenia, who do not understand the graveness of the conflict directly. This generation approaches processes differently, and can more easily understand Sargsyan’s usage the Nagorno Karabakh card for own interests. It is difficult to impact via Soviet propaganda methods (these methods are widely used in Armenia to influence the company) the minds of young people who think that to live as beggars in the 21st century is absurd.

Therefore, the main booster of protests in Yerevan and other cities, is young people, but not the social groups that suffer electricity tariff hike.

 

Migration factor. There are always people in Armenia, who realize that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict harms the country, rather than benefits. And this social layer is even the majority of the country. We are talking about millions of people who feel the impact of the conflict directly on themselves and find leaving Armenia that flounders in morass as the only way out.

According to different calculations, two third Armenian citizens left the country in the last 27 years. Of course, the reason of massive emigration from Armenia is economic problems, but people, who decided to leave the country, understand that economic problems are coming from Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Emigration is not only an economic and demographic problem in Armenia, but also a kind of mass protest of the people against the government. Because thesis “keeping Karabakh under Armenia’s control depends on the political stability” does not fill an average Armenian’s belly. People see that the thesis does not meet anybody’s interests except of Sargsyan government. But like in all the totalitarian regimes, people have to choose as there is no democratic way to change the government: Either to reconcile themselves to the endlessness of Sargsyan’s regime and with the fact that country is closer to the bottom of abyss day by day or to leave the country. The level of the emigration confirms that Armenians prefer the second option.    

 

Economic factor.  There is dreaminess in the structure of Armenian society and this condition has reached on the level of illness for Armenians. The government always strikes this weak chord and has tried to convince that the prize for all the difficulties will be “Great Armenia”, Nagorno Karabakh will get independence and etc. The method “feeding dreamers a fairytale” can be effective up to certain period of time, but it does not stand against the objective factors. The objective factor is economic crisis. 40 percent of Armenian population lives below the poverty level, the Central Bank announced that economic development rate is decreasing, money transfers from foreign countries are decreasing year by year and finally prices of foodstuffs are rising speedily. Just the fact can be noted, if price increase occurs, then one Armenian family’s average yearly electric fee will be 876 USD. It means that a family spends several-month salaries only for the electricity.  In fact, problems have brought Armenian society to its knee and by increasing the electricity fees, the government shows incapability to solve economic problems.

Psychological factor. Psychological factor plays key role in intensiveness of mass protests and government’s failure to use Karabakh card. Sargsyan government is not able to give hope to the Armenian society, and this is the main psychological moment. Because, becoming member of the Eurasian Economic Union and Eurasian Customs Union has decreased Armenia’s already limited political independence; becoming member to the Eurasian Customs Union and applying new customs tariffs have caused speedy rise of prices in the country. This factor puts the correctness of the government’s choice under serious doubts.  

The adopted resolutions and released statements on the international level have started to convince the society that the ideas about the “Great Armenia” and independence of Nagorno Karabakh are nothing but utopia. It is sufficient to recall the decision of the European Court of Human Rights confirming Armenia as an occupying state. Such decisions create a pessimist state of mind in the society and people, started to think practically, pour into streets.  

 

There are sufficient grounds to say that the protests in Armenia will continue for a while. As Sargsyan government has only 3 ways out of the situation. First, the government can take into account all the risks and stifle protest with blood - this option is always actual but it is difficult to say that it will be effective. As the use of force during the first protests had no results, in contrary the map and scale of the mass protests widened. Second, the government agrees with the demands of people, “Inter RAO” company delays the decision to increase electricity tariffs with Kremlin intervention and parliament annuls the decision. This option causes to stop the protests but can be the stimulus for the next mass protests.  The idea “the government is afraid and steps back” will strengthen in Armenian society and each small problem can result such protests. Third and the most real option - the government will continue to indoctrinate the fear against the society. The most optimized method is to benefit from “the war card”.  Straining the situation on the front line, escalation of military operations will give an opportunity to Sargsyan regime to keep Armenian society under fear for a while. But now this method, tested successfully a number of time, has one shortcoming – in case of the outbreak of the conflict, Azerbaijan’s successful response can end Sargsyan regime.

 

Sargsyan does not have the fourth way out because the processes lead to “Maydan” to happen this time in Armenia with graver consequences for the government. 

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