Has Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan lost the legitimacy and confidence of the people of Armenia?
After 11 days of continuous protests in the Armenian capital city, Yerevan, the protests have begun to spread to other cities. “I have already said that I consider myself the number one responsible for the current situation. I am also responsible for overcoming the situation and establishing stability and security in the country. I emphasize that not only do I do not intend to relinquish that responsibility, but I am fully committed to this work,” Pashinyan said.
After facing waves of resignations and dismissing many party members and prominent officials, Pashinyan has presented a 15-point road map for the current situation plaguing the nation.
1. Restore the Karabakh peace process in the format of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship, with the emphasis on the status of Artsakh and the priority of the return of Artsakh people to their places of residence.
2. Ensure the return of the people of Artsakh to their homes. Completely restore the normal life in Artsakh. Rebuild damaged houses, apartments, and infrastructure in the territories under the control of the Artsakh authorities.
3. Provide social guarantees for the families of killed servicemen and citizens.
4. Restore residential and public structures and infrastructure, damaged in the territory of Armenia during the war.
5. Provide social guarantees, prosthetics, and professional training for disabled servicemen.
6. Secure immediate return of captured soldiers and civilians. Provide social guarantees for their families. Quickly clarify the fate of the missing. Provide social guarantees for their families.
7. Form a system of psychological rehabilitation for the people who took part in the war and for society in general.
8. Establish and launch a reform program in the Armed Forces.
9. Overcoming COVID-epidemic and eliminate its consequences.
10. Restore the environment for economic activity.
11. Intensify programs aimed at the resolution of demographic issues.
12. Adopt amendments to the Electoral Code and a new law on parties.
13. Introduce an institute of judges specializing in anti-corruption work as the first step toward establishing an anti-corruption court. Bring into force the law on confiscation of illegal property.
14. Conduct regular thematic consultations with representatives of Armenia’s political and civil community.
15. Conduct regular thematic consultations with Armenian organizations and individuals from the Diaspora. Involve individuals and organizations of Armenia and the Diaspora in the above-mentioned processes.
While these goals may sound great on paper, what is even more impressive, is Pashinyan has promised to accomplish them in just a 6-month timeframe. However, these are just that, goals, and there has been no clear plan on how he can achieve these goals, nor is there a guarantee he will last 6 months.
Ironically, he finished this with the statement that, “The most important goal of all this is to ensure the democratic stability of Armenia and to create guarantees that nothing threatens the formation of power in Armenia through the expression of the free will of the people.” All this while he continues to arrest anyone who protests.
Whether you support Pashinyan, or want to see him hanged, 2020 has been an especially difficult year for all Armenians. Those abroad in the diaspora have been left feeling helpless, while those in Armenia and Artsakh are facing several impending crises. The current political system is in flux. Over 100,000 Armenians have been forced to leave their homes. Winter is on the doorstep. The security and political situations in Artsakh are unresolved. There is an ongoing debate amongst Armenians about what has transpired, and what this all means. Armenia is one miscalculation away from turning this hardship into a calamity.
So, what can you do to help?
If you are like most Armenians, you are living abroad, and you may feel like there is nothing you can do. Or you may wish to wait and see what happens politically before you decide. However, this would be a grave mistake, as Armenia needs each one of you now more than ever. The Armenians forced to flee their homes, who risked their lives on the frontlines, who loved and lost in this war, who have been relying on outside support, and gave up everything to save their lives, they need you now!
Richard Girgagosian, from the Regional Studies Center in Armenia’s capital Yerevan, warned of further instability. “The government has done very little to prepare the population for the scale and severity of losses. The tension is to linger, and unfortunately, the domestic situation is increasingly unstable,” he told Al Jazeera.
Furthermore, Pashinyan has announced that all donations made to Armenia, including the $170,000,000 to Hayastan All Armenian Fund will go to the Armenian government for distribution. This accounts for most donations to Armenia. Originally, Pashinyan promised each person who has moved from Artsakh to Armenia, will receive financial assistance of 68,000 Drams or $135. Children will also receive assistance, if the parent or one of the parents is considered a beneficiary of the program. If the citizen does not have real estate in Armenia, additional assistance of 15,000 Drams or $30 will be provided. Reportedly, this assistance will also be provided if the citizen has already returned to Artsakh.
This has caused a steep backlash from the diaspora, who want to hold Pashinyan’s administration, and these organizations accountable for where the money is going. In turn, many diaspora Armenians have ceased donations until a clear political picture prevails. This caused Pashinyan to announce further support, 300,000 Drams or $622 to each Armenian displaced, along with free utilities for a year if they return to Artsakh. Using rough calculations and an estimation of 100,000 people paid out, this would account for approximately $80,000,000 in assistance, or just shy of $800 a person, or about a month and a half of average income. While this is a good start, it does not begin to address the losses of most of the refugees. At the end of the day, the people stuck in the middle of this are left out to the cold.
What if there is another way?
The Armenian people are torn about what to do, what they can do, and what they should do in this situation, but they all agree upon one thing, we want to help the people of Artsakh!
Luckily, we live in a new age, a digital age. We are the most connected, wealthiest, and best-educated generation of Armenians to ever exist. To borrow from the lyrics of the famous song Sardarabad, “When there is no hope, and no way out, it is the crazy ones that find a solution!” So, lets cut through the red tape and take the initiative to find a way! Armenians around the world, now have ways to reach those in need, directly or indirectly through various social media, crowdfunding, peer to peer lending platforms, microloans, and non-governmental organizations.
Let me introduce you to Ayo, it is a fundraising platform of Fund for Armenian Relief (F.A.R.) that emphasizes the power and agency of the Armenian people and their ability to make positive changes in their society, by providing a vehicle to raise money for local development projects. Ayo was designed to engage and empower young people who wish to take change into their own hands and give agency to those who seek to contribute
The Fund for Armenian Relief, Ayo’s parent organization, is a U.S. humanitarian organization that provides short-term emergency relief and implements long-term programs focusing on child protection, economic development, education, health care, and social services. F.A.R. was founded by the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), in response to the devastating earthquake that struck Gyumri in 1988.
GoGetFunding empowers you to raise money for anything that matters to you. From personal causes and events to projects and more. They have helped people from all over the world raise millions online. They have been recognized by Forbes as one of the top global crowdfunding websites and their campaigns have been featured in a vast number of leading press publications. It is easy to start a campaign, then share it with the world, and accept donations with debit and credit cards, along with PayPal.
Boostbloom is an Armenian crowdfunding platform that supports of a variety of creative activities from book writing, independent films to music development, civic projects, inventions development, scientific research, and charity. Truly anything with a clear, definable, and finite goal can be a project in Boostbloom terms. BoostBloom helps make these projects come to a reality thanks to crowdfunding and the rewarded efforts of people who believe in your ideas.
Another Armenian started site is Armstarter. It is a free online platform for creating, discussing, and supporting projects that are related to Armenians worldwide. The platform allows for any individual or organization to launch their project, no matter where in the world they are. Crowdfunding is allowed if payments go through a third party, with a description in the project section. Armstarter is looking for partner to expand into the Kickstarter one stop shop for the Armenian people. If you think you can help them grow, please check out their site!
For those in need of business, consumer, or agricultural loans, Finca is an organization that has a history of being established in Armenia. Their mission is to alleviate poverty through lasting solutions that help people build assets, create jobs, and raise their standard of living. They desire to be an unconventional community-based financial institution, that profitably and responsibly provides innovative and impactful financial services, to enable low-income individuals and communities to invest in their futures.
Mintos is a unique peer to peer lending platform, which provides unparalleled diversification possibilities. Currently, you can invest in loans issued by 68 loan originators from 33 countries on four continents. Also, Varks is a similar leading alternative lending company in Armenia. Loans from Varks are listed in euros with expected returns of 13%. Clients can receive their loan from the company in cash, after applying at one of the 30 branches the company has across Armenia.
If none of these options suit your needs, then I encourage you to check out one of the many other organizations on the ground in Armenia and Artsakh. One Armenia is one of the organizations I have personally preferred, due to their specific, and targeted projects in rural communities. However, as I am not a financial advisor, as always it is important to do due diligence when sending money online. There are numerous organizations with the means and people on the ground, but there is nothing stopping you from reaching out to those you know. If you cannot find what you wish, then create it yourself, each and every Armenian is a representative for our nation, no matter where we are!
All these organizations listed, will have their links in the description section below. If each Armenian church were to pick a specific project, and to help fund raise and resettle the Armenians of Artsakh, we would have the issue solved in no time! The political situation in Armenia is unclear, but that does not stop us from doing what we can to make a difference. Why wait in despair when your dreams and other people’s hopes are just a click away? Whether you choose to sponsor a family directly, donate books and clothes to children, sponsor an aspiring musician, or help fund an agricultural project in a rural community, if you can dream it you can make it a reality. Get online, get organized, we are in this together, no deed is too small, every action makes a difference, and what is important is we show our support to our people in this time of need. If you want to help inspire other Armenians in our time of need, please like and share this video! This video is only a starting point for what we can accomplish, so let’s start sharing ideas in the comment section below! If you enjoyed this content and wish to see more, don't forget to subscribe, as I will be creating more content in the near future!
If there is one lesson we should take from the latest events, it is that as Armenians, we only have ourselves to rely upon. The tools are available for us, we have the technology, the only question remains, what will you do for Armenia?