Despite turbulent political developments, the combat between the authorities and the opposition and election campaigns of political parties, the environmental activists have drawn the attention of the Armenian public with their fight for Trchkan and Teghut, protests again installation of stores in Mashtots Park. Social networks, in particularly the Facebook, are the vivid proof of this.
Political parties, particularly the opposition, also got hold of the “green topic”. Environment is yet another tool for the opposition to hit the authorities, while the “green” activists present a fertile field for recruiting new supporters. It is worth noting that these will make bold supporters who are not afraid to confront the authorities to protect their principles, something many parties fail to do (real, active environmentalists are meant here, and not those who protect the nature by occasional clicking and “like”-ing things at their computers).
Views regarding the role of environmental activists in the political life vary from total idealization of their fight to accusations of “wasting grant funds” and activities undermining their own statehood with support of foreign resources.
Vahran Soghomonyan, member of the “We are the owners of this city” civil initiative, says that environmental movements are in fact merely civil ones and will remain to be such. “They can have their part in raising the civil awareness, and political forces that focus on civil awareness, will benefit from it,” Soghomonyan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.
The civil activist positively assessed possible use of the “green issue” by political parties during the election campaign. “Of course, they can do it, but their business is to represent the interests of citizens. If they believe they can support representing the interests of citizens, each can mind their own business; it is up to citizens to decide which of them better represents their interests. I think this is natural and I see nothing special in it,” he said.
Soghomonyan also mentioned he does not see any prerequisites for establishing a green party in Armenia like those existing in European countries. He says it's possible in the future, taking into account the urgency of ecological problems faced by the country; however, he said, “this must be a result of a natural process”.
Coordinator of the most influential opposition force in Armenia, the Armenian National Congress (ANC) Levon Zurabyan praised activities of the environmental enthusiasts, mentioning also the role of ANC in this.
“We can only welcome such developments; people are ready to launch protest actions, even confront the police and state agencies in order to solve problems they are concerned about. I assess this very positively; this is namely what we dreamt about. We kept going in this direction for 4 years, trying to engage people, andtook the blow of the repressive state machine on ourselves,” he told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.
According to Zurabyan, people’s confrontation and hundreds of legal actions filed against the police and prosecutor’s office, including those filed to the European Court, resulted in certain success and “sobered up the authorities to some extent”. “The difference between the police actions today and one or two years ago is apparent. This is the result of the educational process we’ve been pursuing for 4 years. Now the numerous civil groups with their various initiatives have all conditions to combat for solution of their problems,” he emphasized.
Zurabyan also mentioned that he does not see any political implication in opposition parties’ close attention towards environmental problems; “they (the parties) are fighting for specific objectives”, he said noting that environmental issue will certainly appear on the political agenda of the forthcoming elections.
Political expert Karen Kocharyan considers the recent activities of environmental groups from a different angle. “Any environmental movement seems artificial to me; there is no such movement. This is just a cause to gather a mob. And when psychology of a crowd starts working, it is being used to reach political goals. Just remember the 1988: the movement started with Nairit and Nuclear Power Station issue, then transferring into Karabakh movement,” he declared.
However, many experts believe that currently technologies of driving people to streets are being tested in Armenia, environmental issues being part of preparation for a possible “orange revolution” in the country.
Never doubting the sincerity of common environmentalists fighting to secure a better future for their children, one still wants to hope that the experts’ assumptions refer to “conspiracy theory” domain, and the leaders of these movements are as sincere in their aspirations as their common members, and they combat against all mining companies not limiting their actions to the capital coming from Russia only, as some companies are hinting. As to opposition parties, we’d like to believe they are really concerned over ecological issues, and the “green topic” is not just a way for them to collect political dividends and votes in the upcoming elections.
So far, one can state that the environmental issue hits rather hard the authorities’ rating, in particular, Yerevan mayor Taron Margaryan, quite promising representative of the ruling elite. The Mashtots Park chronicle will definitely emerge some day in his further political career.