In order to understand the current situation in Armenia, one has to look back almost 30 years ago to after the collapse of Soviet Union. In 1990,the Armenian nation voted for independence but what also happened was that the country was subjected to a change of system from socialism to a harsh neoliberal shock therapy by the new rulers.The economy was brought to a standstill and the structures were left to rust, hence Armenia became a country of mass unemployment and mass poverty. Armenia also went to war with Azerbaijan to defend the people of the enclave region of NagornoKarabakh, which used to be part of Armenia, laying the perfect ground for the birth of the freeloading oligarchs in Armenia.
During the first free elections that took place in 1990, the Communist Party of Armenia amassed 136 seats out of 259.However, the situation began to change and as the darker elements took over,with the replacement of the first president, the metrics of election changed – i.e. vote buying and vote rigging so as to diminish the Party’s hold in the country and its ability to provide resistance and solid answers to the economic and political issues of the day.Therefore, in the 1995 elections, with changes to the number of parliamentary seats and oppression against the people and the communists,the Party took 10 out of 190 seats.In 1999,the Party retained its 10 of a reduced 131 seats. The suppression of the Party, which started after the collapse [of the Soviet Union] by the first administration, changed gear by the second and the third administrations, resulting in the confiscation of buildings, offices – including the headquarters and the branch offices – throughout the countryas well as all other assets that belonged to the Party.
With the coming of the second administration,led by president Robert Kocharyan- who, incidentally, is on remand in prison pending trial for crimes committed in 1995 – not only did the socio-economic problems get worse, the Party’s situation got worse too, as the country and a population in a state of shock was pushed into a depression. Privatisation of key economic structures and the destruction of sub-structures left the country and the people in an unprecedented ruin. The wealth of the nation was divided amongst the ruling circle, hence the ascent of the oligarchy into the novo-bourgeoisie which enabled and facilitated the West as a whole to work and push their geopolitical strategy. The opportunity created a justification for the Imperialists to run their business-as-usual strategy under the auspices of the IMF, World Bank and the European Union.
Armenia’s debt up to 2018 was 7 billion plusUS dollars, with the state pot divided up between the ruling oligarchs.So, from the collapse of the Soviet Union, we have had nothing but the pillaging and plundering of the nation’s wealth and the destruction of healthcare and education system that once produced so many doctors, teachers and engineers for society. The population of 4.5 million duringthe Soviet era has been reduced to a debatable 3 million as a result of mass migration while, according to the present government; there are 1.5million living in absolute poverty. In April 2018, one slogan formulated by Nikol Pashinyan captured people’s attention; “Reject Serj” referring to Serj Sargasyan, the then president of Armenia, whom was in the process of changing the country’s presidential system to a parliamentarian one which he would then lead as prime minister.
The people had had enough of the corruption, undignified manner of living, unemployment and poverty and oppression, and of providing cheap labour for the oligarchs. The political change that took place – that came to be referred to as a revolution – was defined by Pashinyan as anti-corruption, non-violent, democratic and national. Thus,the Party’s assessment of the changes is that they are just [cosmetic] political, not in-depth and lacking in substance – because the main element, the spine of what Marxists know as revolution, is the class struggle which gives that unity and [cohesiveness] in the logical progression of the whole struggle for democracy, workers and trade union rights, and human rights.
The leadership of the Communist Party of Armenia has agreed on the strategy of supporting the present government on the merits of those of its policies that serve the people and particularly the working class, farmers and the poor, but also reserves the right to criticise and struggle against those policies that are not beneficial and which do not serve the interests of the working class and the people as a whole. For instance, the country is badly in need of investment.Hence, under the economic revolution announced by [Pashinyan] last year, the government is fully engaged in encouraging foreign investment.However, there seems to be no indication or willingness on the part of the government to invest in the country. So as not to upset the foreign investor’sinterests, there follows a lack of regulation, in particular regarding the rights of workers in the private sector with no base rate – nor any indication one will be set – for wages in that sector.
The prime minister and his government have increased the wages of public sector workers, which is a welcomed by our party, but if the government is hoping this will createhealthy competition between the two sectors then it is mistaken, as there are currently no laws and regulationsthat protect private sector workers or to which the sector must adhere.
The Communist Party of Armenia believes that the changes that have taken place in Armenia are positive but thatfurther changes need to take place in order to move in the correct direction.Clear and resolute policies, to protect the workers right and in the interests of the country,are needed in making sure the people of Armenia can have a better life and for lifting 1.5million people out of absolute poverty,something which cannot be left solely to private investors and the private sector.
In terms of foreign policy, the recent changes have given Armenia a renewed opportunity to look objectively at what is in the country’s interests- with the strategy of peaceful coexistence.And, as a country, we have to start with our immediate neighbours – Russia in particular, as we have that historical relationship politically and economically. We do see Russia as an important geopolitical partner and a relationship which has to be nurtured. The challenges of international relations are never easy to solve but a commitment to peace can play a major role going forwards.
Communist party of Armenia