What happened in Armenia was the first step of a social transformation. The people rose against the widening gap between haves and have-nots, growing corruption, and a dominance of injustice in all aspects and spheres of life throughout the country.
Struggle for social injustice has been at the heart of all major revolutions of history. When a people’s power is suppressed; when accountability and transparency become slogans; when state-run institutions do not respond to the needs and expectations of people; when the arrogance of power—in all its forms and expressions—establishes its firm control over the people, the people react and act.
The people of Armenia have reacted to this humiliation and dehumanization with non-violence. Now that social transformation in Armenia has begun, it is the time for action and for critical and realistic assessment. Action must now move from the streets to the political arena. The initial phase of the process requires courage, wisdom, and vision. This is a new hope and a unique opportunity, but only if the transformation process is genuinely owned by and responsive to the needs of the people.
The new government at this crucial point must be one of national unity. If it is to counter the corruption of the past, it should immediately and seriously address economic injustice; it must also monitor closely the developments regarding Karabagh (Artsakh) and the geopolitical landscape of the Caucasus, which remains an extremely fragile region; and it must maintain Armenia’s international relations and engagements, and give new quality and focus to Armenia-Diaspora collaboration. These major challenges must be faced with a profound sense of responsibility and firm commitment.
This peaceful social transformation confers on the holders of power the responsibility to remake the nation. They must not betray the Armenian youth, who were the driving force of this movement. The rule of law should remain above all. The impulse of this movement to serve the people should be based on ethical values. Future action must embrace all the people and must be implemented as a people-oriented process sustained by a solid strategy and a clear vision.
Note: A version of this op-ed by Catholicos Aram I first appeared on the Catholicos of Cilicia’s official website under the title “Armenia: A Model of Social Transformation.”