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  • Documents on Democracy


On 8 May 2018, Nikol Pashinian was elected prime minister of Armenia following a month of peaceful antigovernment protests leading to the resignation of Serzh Sarkisian, who had been in power since 2008. On 1 March 2019, Pashinian spoke at a memorial event for the people killed during protests following the 2008 election of Sarkisian. (For more information on the peaceful revolution in Armenia, see the article by Miriam Lanskoy and Elspeth Suthers on pp. 85–99 above.) Pashinian's remarks are excerpted below:

This day eleven years ago, on March 1, 2008, blood was shed in the center of Yerevan, capital of Armenia.

The then authorities used illegal force against peaceful demonstrators as a result of which 8 Armenian citizens were killed and two others died later from the injuries received on that day. …

Eleven years after these events, it is extremely important for us to give a political assessment to what happened. And now I consider it necessary to state that the actions of the ruling elite in 2008 were not at all aimed against a target force, a group or an individual: the main and perhaps the only target of such violence and illegalities was the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, our rights, dignity and freedom. …

March 1, 2008 was not a phenomenon that emerged overnight; it was the massive eruption and culmination of long-standing crackdowns, fraud, political killings, persecutions, and arbitrary actions that had oppressed Armenia and its people for many years. Those impermissible phenomena emerged soon after the declaration of independence of the Third Republic, when it seemed that democracy was irreversible in our country.

These ill-omened memories may arouse concerns and fears that after the non-violent velvet popular revolution of 2018, after the triumph of democracy, Armenia could fall into another cycle of turbulence. [End Page 182]

Today, on March 1, 2019, I want to make it clear that the return to the past is impossible in our country. Armenia will not return to corruption, political persecutions, political violence and abuse. …

Our mission is to make Armenia a country of law and justice, truth and values, and we will not deviate from that mission in any way.

This does not mean that there are not cases of illegalities, violations of human rights, and even cases of bribery and violence in today's Armenia. Unfortunately, such instances still exist in our country. But every Armenian citizen should be confident that the government, the Prime Minister, is not the sponsor and the coordinator of illegalities, but their opponent instead. We will definitely succeed in the fight against lawlessness, rights violations, abuses; we will expose the crimes committed by the ruling elite, because the people and the government are united, and our unity is invincible and unshakable. …

Therefore, long live freedom, long live the Republic of Armenia, long live the Republic of Artsakh, long live our children and us, as we are living and will live in a free and happy Armenia!

Dear compatriots, spring is in the air today, and you have brought this spring to Armenia.


Thirty scholars, writers, and intellectuals signed a letter composed by philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy and novelists Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, Elfriede Jelinek, and Orhan Pamuk entitled "Fight for Europe—or the Wreckers Will Destroy It." Among the other signatories were Nobel laureates Svetlana Alexievich and Mario Vargas Llosa, historian Anne Applebaum, and writer Adam Michnik. The full text follows:

The idea of Europe is in peril.

From all sides there are criticisms, insults and desertions from the cause.

"Enough of 'building Europe'!" is the cry. Let's reconnect instead with our "national soul"! Let's rediscover our "lost identity"! This is the agenda shared by the populist forces washing over the continent. Never mind that abstractions such as "soul" and "identity" often exist only in the imagination of demagogues.

Europe is being attacked by false prophets who are drunk on resentment, and delirious at their opportunity to seize the limelight. It has been abandoned by the two great allies who in the previous century twice saved it from suicide; one across the Channel and the other across the Atlantic...