Armenia’s depoliticized politics

The ten years of the presidency of the incumbent president of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, made a significant change in the Armenian political life, namely, the formation of negative attitude towards the phenomenon of “politics” and the emergence of “taboo” of engaging in politics.

“Do not politicize”

The calls not to politicize political issues have become commonplace in the words of Republican Party members during the recent years. Armen Ashotyan, the then Minister of Education and Science came up with calls not to politicize the activity of the ministry during the period when there were public discussions about pressures on the employees of education institutions because of their political views. In June 2017, such a call was made by the Republican Mayor of Hrazdan Aram Danielyan. It should be reminded that last summer there was a wave of public protests because Aram Danielyan was not subjected to any responsibility for his negligence of his service vehicle when a 59-year-old citizen was hit by his teenage son driving the car.

There are many similar examples. Even police officers regularly demand from the demonstrators “not to politicize their demands.” The government has clearly demonstrated in recent years that it seeks to depoliticize political life as far as possible, and give a negative connotation to the word politics. Such statements have become so popular that some online platforms have even begun applying the #չքաղաքականացնել  (do not politicize) hashtag sarcastically.

 A depoliticized president

Perhaps the culmination of this tendency became Serzh Sargsyan’s statement on the features of the future president. On January 16, he announced that the future president should be an impartial person who has never engaged in politics and has not been a party member. In fact, this statement once again gives a negative connotation to the word “politics.” According to Serzh Sargsyan, if an individual has ever engaged in politics, he cannot be impartial. At the same time, a question arises as to how a person can occupy the post of a president if he has never been involved in politics and has not been a party member.

What is the reason for this policy of depoliticizing? There is an impression that the Republican Party is trying to petrify the following perceptions by depoliticizing all possible political issues and giving politics a negative connotation: 1. Politics is evil, do not interfere in that process, 2. Because politics is a dirty process, the person who engages in it gets dirty himself. Finally, if the society considers politics a negative phenomenon and keeps away from it, it merely becomes the monopoly of the Republican Party.

Consequently, Serzh Sargsyan’s statement is not just an insignificant episode but a culmination of the process of establishing a “monopoly in politics.”

Finally, it is worth noting that the word politics, in its classical “non-Armenian” sense, translates from Greek (from the Greek word πολιτικός, politikos) to “of citizens, for citizens, or related to citizens.” Consequently, any question that concerns an ordinary Armenian citizen is political, and since having a clear understanding of and participation in these issues is an inevitable duty of any citizen, we are all engaged in politics in one way or another. Even the decision not to be politicized is a political option, and, thus, the new presidential candidate will hardly be found in Armenia or any other part of the world.

Anna Pambukhchyan
“Union of Informed Citizens”

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