Ronald Suny: I Cannot Imagine Armenia Without Russia
Ronald Suny, Professor at the University of Chicago, presented a talk entitled “Where Did All the Transitions Go? Façade Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Post-Soviet World” at a conference entitled END OF TRANSITION: Armenia 25 Years On. Now What?, organized by the USC Institute of Armenian Studies in Yerevan, on May 23-24. CivilNet LIVE streamed the conference. Below is the full text of Professor Suny’s lecture.
Ronald Grigor Suny is the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago, and Senior Researcher at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Let’s turn our minds back to those difficult, exciting, euphoric days a quarter century ago. It was a time of triumphant optimism; the end of dictatorship and the promise of democracy; a return, it was said, to the “path of civilization;” and an “end of history” with the universal establishment of western-style liberal societies that would look a lot like the United States and Britain but with all the welfare guarantees of Sweden or Norway. Armenia, it was believed, would become a new Singapore or Hong Kong.
That optimism soon met reality: the manipulation of democratic practices within former Soviet republics; the rise of obscenely wealthy oligarchs closely tied to and influencing or competing with government leaders; the collapse of the economy; and the impoverishment of much of the population; the blockade of Armenia by Azerbaijan and Turkey; and the emigration of hundreds of thousand of Armenian citizens. Pax Soveticus, which regulated and repressed the more vicious features of interethnic and social conflict, disintegrated in a cascade of civil and ethnic wars in Karabakh, Transdneistria, Georgia, Chechnya, Tajikistan, and elsewhere, and the former Russian mediator became in some places once again the brutal conqueror of its own internal periphery. Some countries succeeded in building democratic states and market economies – in the Baltic republics, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia most notably – but others witnessed the restoration of the old Communist nomenklatura, now in national garb, in the countries of Central Asia and Azerbaijan. Nationalist oppositions took power in Armenia, Georgia, and Tajikistan. Bright spots have appeared but shadows grow longer.
In the West political scientists tried to think theoretically and practically about what was happening. Governments asked their advice about how democracies might be created in new states and how they might be maintained. While a post-modern sensibility should make us suspicious of progress, either in the real world or in social science, we can at least note that some development took place in both. Consider what social scientists thought about the possibilities for democracy in the last half century. Broadly speaking, there were three major paradigms that thought about democracy building.
The first was the MODERNIZATION MODEL. From the late 1940s through the early 1970s, at a time when social science was concerned about the difficulties of establishing democracies in the “underdeveloped” world, then recently emerging from a century of European colonialism, democracy and economic development went together. In the context of the Cold War, poverty was not only undesirable but positively dangerous, since it enflamed minds and could potentially lead to communism. Human history was generally seen to be progressive, leading upward to something that looked like the developed West. A great social scientist in the modernization tradition like Gabriel Almond could optimistically proclaim that “in the new and modernizing nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America, the process of enlightenment and democratization will have their inevitable way.” The modern was construed to be American liberal capitalist democracy, which itself was less carefully examined for its limitations than the poorer, more authoritarian regimes of the Second and Third World. But as modernization, with its component industrialization and urbanization, often led to greater social instability, or the development of democratic institutions and civil society gave rise to potentially anti-capitalist or pro-Soviet elements, the emphasis of many Western leaders was on promoting political stability (read: pro-Western policies), even if it meant curtailing democracy and supporting authoritarian regimes. Independent nationalist modernizers, like Egypt’s Nasser, were construed to be unreliable or rhetorically condemned as “Nazis,” while more pliant states, like some notoriously undemocratic African states (the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Kenya, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Zaire) or the autocratic monarchies of the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Gulf States) received generous economic and military aid from the United States, Britain, and France.
Worried about the effects of militant anti-imperialist nationalisms, the modernization theorists were confronted with revolutionary movements at the moment of decolonization that had to be captured for the building of democracy and capitalism and prevented from adopting Soviet state-socialist models. After all, the USSR represented a non-capitalist, statist road to an alternative modernity and looked very attractive to anti-imperialist revolutionaries. Western social science was engaged, of course, then as now, in projects that conformed to the values of its practitioners. American political science, after all, is first and foremost American, often quite parochial, and liberal in its assumptions.
The building of democracy had both a normative as well as a strategic side to it. Happily for many of us, this interest in stopping Communism and leading the Third World into the self-nominated “Free World” led governments and other funders to promote the study of areas of the world that had hitherto been neglected. But a Western master narrative was brought to bear on non-Western societies: they too were expected to evolve as had Western Europe from theocratic to secular values, from status to contract, from more restricted to freer capitalist economies, from Gesellschaft to Gemeinschaft, in a word, from tradition to modernity. This powerful, evolving discourse of development and democracy legitimized a new post-colonial role for the developed world vis-à-vis the underdeveloped: it would lead the less fortunate into prosperity and modernity, stability and progress. But it would require that the West lead and the South (and later the East) follow.
Initially there had been enthusiasm for the export of the “Westminster system,” as if liberal institutions could in and of themselves serve as a base for democracy. But such hothouse democracy did not work; and new state after new state in Africa and Asia fell from the imagined grace of imperialism into the chaos of civil war or the false stability of military dictatorship. In that heyday of Cold War dichotomies and Manichean binaries, the old institutionalist faith – that with the right constitution and democratic institutions democracy would be built – had to be supplemented by greater consideration of social and economic conditions. A new paradigm about the possibility of building effective democracies hardened in social science. This was the PREREQUISITES MODEL, which held that the only way to become democratic was to fulfill a whole list of prerequisites or what were called “social correlatives” of democracy.
Among the necessary preconditions were a certain level of economic development; a civil society like that of the developed West; an entrepreneurial bourgeoisie; and a culture of tolerance. In such an ambitious scenario some despaired that only Anglo-America and perhaps the Scandinavian countries were truly reliable candidates for real liberal democracy. In other words, in order to become democratic you had already to be Sweden! Some pessimists, like Samuel Huntington and the historian Bernard Lewis, have argued that whole civilizations, notably Islam, are incompatible with democracy. Yet the “preconditions school” had its share of optimists. They believed that a democratic political culture or civicness, values of trust and tolerance, are crucial for democracy.
The prerequisites model was closely related to the dominant ideas of liberal modernization theory. Economic growth was linked causally to a more skilled, literate population and therefore to political liberalization. Prosperity would lead to education, which in turn would lead to cultural change and provide a social base for democracy. As David Apter put it,.”Successful development would sweep away ‘traditional’ parochialisms and ‘primordialisms’… and establish pre-conditions for democracy.” Samuel Huntington wrote in this vein in 1991: “In considerable measure, the wave of democratizations that began in 1974 was the product of the economic growth of the previous two decades.” Larry Diamond went even further to claim that capitalism is a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition for democracy.
Critics of the “preconditions school” point out that though there appears to be a correlation between certain values and successful democratization, many of the conditions cannot be shown to be causally linked to democracy. Indeed, such values may be more often an effect of democracy, rather than a cause. Secondly, this school relies highly on structural factors, and fails to take account of the role of actors, agents, or elites that might promote or prevent democracy, no matter what the general culture of the population. Moreover, the idea of culture proposed in modernization theory tends to be quite fixed, bounded, and internally uncontested. More generally, the modernization approach has been criticized for its Eurocentrism, its sharp contrast between the traditional and the modern, as well as its determinism, if not fatalism. And nagging them from the Left were the dependency theorists, who questioned the benefits of a Western-inspired and directed modernization program that led, not to autonomy and independence, but to subordination to the metropoles of the northern hemisphere. Against the liberalism of modernization theory, dependency theory presented a Marxist alternative that questioned the unvarnished advantages of capitalist development. While modernizationists neglected the state, dependency theorists warned that the state was an agent of the most powerful classes and international actors. Interestingly enough, modernization and dependency theory depended on one another and rose to prominence and moved to the margins along with one another.
The third important paradigm in the search for how to make a democracy was the well-known school of TRANSITOLOGY. In 1970 the prominent political scientist and founding editor of the journal Comparative Politics, Dankwart A. Rustow introduced his “dynamic model” of democratization. Rustow pointed out that conditions for initiation of democratic transition might be very different from those needed for consolidation of democracy. He suggested that the emphasis of research shift from conditions that might trigger democratization to the dynamics of the process itself.
An absolute monarchy is best sustained by unquestioned acceptance of tradition and heredity but evidently cannot be newly founded on the same principles. Democracy arises through conflict and compromise but survives by virtue of growing consensus.
Rustow argued that democratization moves forward “on the installment plan” through a series of compromises in which no social or political group can impose its own “ideal project.” This notion that “a second-best solution which none of the actors wanted or identified with completely but which all of them can agree to and share in” proved an inspiration for the next generation of democratization theorists.
A half decade later, in the mid-1970s: new democracies appeared in Portugal, Spain, and then Latin America, and a number of scholars studying the Hispanic world began to elaborate a new approach to democratization theory, a body of work that would soon constitute the “new orthodoxy” known as Transitology. Instead of listing all the prerequisites for democracy, or cautioning patience until the necessary level of economic development had been reached – a practice that had left many of the customers for democracy outside the shop staring hungrily through the window – scholars like Guillermo O’Donnell, Phillipe Schmitter, and Adam Przeworski now argued that there were almost no necessary prerequisites and anyone could become democratic. The only prerequisite for democratic transition that the transitologists recognized was Rustow’s existence of a territorially defined state. This would become very important in post-colonial transitions, like that in Africa or Asia, and in post-Soviet transitions, where the borders of republics were contested.
Instead of the structuralist limits of the preconditionists, the transitologists emphasized agency, actors, and elites that try to maximize their interests and gains during transitions. Rather than Marx, they were attracted by the Chicago School of Economics. Belief in democracy was no longer important; what was important was if elites benefit from playing the game of democracy. The crucial thing was whether democratic regimes could generate incentives that would encourage political groups that lose to stay within the democratic framework to play again, rather than try to overturn the whole game. Democracy, they warned, occurs in conditions of uncertainty.
Important in this new orthodoxy was the mode of transition. Transitology highlighted the importance of agreement between the ruling elite and its moderate opponents. Everyone on all sides must act as a rational actor, pursuing their own interests, maximizing their own expected utility. Ruling elites make agreements, called pacts, with reforming counter-elites that smooth the transition. Such pacts make democracy more likely an outcome, prevent revolution, and guarantee the existing property distribution. Old regime actors seek to preserve as much of their power and privilege as possible, while democratic actors seek to gain as much as possible. But both sides understand they cannot have everything. O’Donnell and Schmitter wrote: “…all previously known transitions to political democracies have observed one fundamental restriction: it is forbidden to take, or even to checkmate, the king of one of the players. In other words, during the transition, the property rights of the bourgeoisie are inviolable.” The transitions in Iberia and Latin America, despite the attempts of the Communist parties to change the economic system or Castro-supported rebels to institute a state-socialist system, were carried out by authoritarian elites and their more moderate opponents and prevented a socialist transformation. Transition is most emphatically not revolution; indeed it is the principal transformative alternative to revolution. A successful transition to democracy must come up with a reasonable set of rules by which a political group could lose but still play the game. Political groups give their contingent consent. In such a transition conditions of uncertainty are limited (bounded uncertainty), unlike in revolution. Transitions move from unbounded to bounded uncertainty. This contingent consent and bounded uncertainty are key to a successful democratic consolidation. Democracy is consolidated when politics becomes routine and even boring.
Transitology argued against Barrington Moore and others that a bourgeoisie was needed before democracy could be achieved and against the political culturalists who claimed that civic culture was required. There was no need for popular mobilization; that like civic culture usually comes after transition. Transitologists disagreed with De Tocqueville who had argued that political equalization would lead people to demand social and economic egalitarianism. There need be no radical redistribution of wealth
The transitologists admitted to their “frank bias for democracy.” They were anxious to provide an alternative to revolution and to mass mobilization. They saw elite negotiations as a more predictable road to setting up the rules of a democratic game. Their highly agent-oriented approach, not only played down preconditions and structures but also international actors, and heightened the autonomy of local actors. Still the transitologists focused on political regimes themselves, not on societies and economies. The political regime changed, but the distribution of property and power in society did not.
This is where social scientists had left democratization when about fifteen years ago radical changes began in the Communist world. Here the outcome was much less promising than in Latin America. Almost all of the states that emerged from the former Soviet Union – leaving out Eastern Europe and the Baltic republics for the moment – have ended up as “illiberal” or “delegative democracies” or authoritarian states. This, despite a determination on the part of many Soviet successor leaders to create democratic, capitalist states – and the widespread optimism in the late 1980s and early 1990s that successful transitions to democracy were possible, even if difficult. The question is what happened and why; what explains the variety of outcomes in the post-socialist world; and what does the post-Soviet experience tell us about political transitions and theories of democratic transitions.
Transitologists recognized that transitions to democracy are very often unsuccessful. Some two-thirds fail and most of them return to the previous regime. Some result in partial democracies, soft dictatorships or hard democracies. Still others limp along with no functioning democratic rules; these are unconsolidated democracies. And a few make it all the way to a consolidated democracy. They also took note that the post-Communist transitions were doubly complex, because they involved both a change in political regime and in economic system. Spain had already modernized its economy and welfare system before Franco’s death, and important political changes had occurred that would aid democratic passage, e.g., a promise of devolution of power to regions was placed in the constitution. But all of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union was faced with dismantling the structures of Stalinism that had been in place in some republics since the early 1930s.
The state socialism of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union – with its party monopoly of both politics and economics, the penetration of civil society, the civilian dominance over the military, and the mobilizing, transformative ideology – meant that there were no alternative elites (Armenia and Georgia are exceptions here because of independent nationalist movements). In the former Soviet Union this was not just a political shift but a radical social and economic revolution. Moreover, the post-socialist transitions took place (and are taking place) in a completely different international context that required “not just modification of the state’s foreign policies but also a profound redefinition of the role of the state in the international system.”
The end of the Communist regimes occurred in different ways – “pacting in Poland and Hungary, mass mobilization in Czechoslovakia and East Germany, and a mixture of reform from above and below in the Soviet Union.” Yet almost everywhere the Communists gave up power without much resistance – Armenia and Georgia, certainly, but not in Yugoslavia, Rumania, Azerbaijan, and the republics of Central Asia. In Poland mass protest preceded a negotiated pact between the party and society in the form of Solidarity, while in Hungary the party and the opposition pacted without much public protest. “[I]n the more repressive systems, such as Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, East Germany, and the Soviet Union and in systems that had featured protests in the past that were then put down by Soviet armed intervention, such as Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the costs of protest were high and the publics tended, as a result, to be more quiescent…” Hungarian caution, along with its constitutional design, “provided an unusual stability to a post-Communist Hungarian politics.” Where the revolutionary changes were most peaceful – Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and East Germany – they led to the most effective post-socialist democracies, but where the changes were accompanied with violence – as in Yugoslavia, Albania, and Romania – there has been “far less of a break with the socialist past.” These latter regimes were also outside the Soviet Bloc and, therefore, less under the military control of the USSR. Where the Soviets had control over local militaries and police – as in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Bulgaria after 1968 – popular action, plus the unwillingness of the USSR to intervene as it had in the past, led to the rapid and largely non-violent collapse of the party regimes. But in the three states – Albania, Romania, and Yugoslavia – that controlled their own military, the transitions were far more violent.
Valerie Bunce (as well as Michael McFaul, M. Steven Fish, and others) point out the centrality of mass popular movements in many of the transitions in Eastern Europe. This starkly contrasts with the elite pacting strategy that transitologists applaud in Latin America. Mass mobilization correlates neatly with successful democratic transition in the Baltic states, Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, to an extent in Russia, and for a time in Armenia and Georgia. In contrast, in those countries in which Communist nomenklatura managed to maintain power – in Central Asia in particular – mass mobilization was largely absent. The political and economic tasks of most of the states of Eastern Europe, many of which had not been independent before 1991, were much more far-reaching and radical than those faced by the established states of Latin American. In Eastern Europe both nation and state had to be constructed at the same time as democracy, the rule of law, and a market economy, not to mention that all of this happened while the international order, alliance structure, and power relations between East and West were reordered.
In other words, history matters: the form of state structures, ideologies, and institutions determined the strategy of transition and the likelihood of success or failure in democratization. More than just the mode of transition, effective analysis of transition must take into account “the nature of the authoritarian past and its institutional characteristics, and the role of that past, along with economics, nationalism, and the international system, in shaping the dynamics of recent democratization.”
In a number of critical articles, and in a book-length examination of the Russian transition, Michael McFaul, long before he became US ambassador to Russia, argues against some of the assumption of the transitology school, and in his most substantial work emphasizes the central role of democratic agents. In 1999, at the end of the Yeltsin period, McFaul noted that Russia had made two unsuccessful attempts at democratic transition – Gorbachev’s [1987-1991] and Yeltsin’s first [1991-1993] – and predicted that the country was more likely to succeed in its third attempt – Yeltsin’s post-1993 constitutional arrangement. He was wrong, it turned out. Gorbachev failed because of revolutionary confrontation between two competing sovereignties – the USSR and the Russian [and other] republics; Yeltsin failed because two rival claimants to sovereign power within Russia – the presidency and the parliament – could not agree on how to share power or which side should be supreme. But after Yeltsin’s parliamentary coup in 1993, a new constitutional arrangement gave the bulk of power to the president and thereby allowed for a series of elections and normalization of politics, albeit in an illiberal ‘democratic’ form.
McFaul’s analysis accepts many of the premises of transitology. As a rule he proposes, “A successful transition occurs when all major political actors adhere to a shared set of rules of the game that organizes political behavior.” He recognizes, along with the leading theorists of political transitions, like Juan Linz, Alfred Stepan, Schmitter, and O’Donnell, that negotiated pacts – general acceptance of the new rules of the game – and a balance of power between the major actors enhances the probability of reaching a democratic conclusion. But he believes that transitions from Soviet-style regimes are significantly different from the Latin American transitions because in Eastern Europe there was a simultaneous massive property shift coinciding with the negotiating of new democratic institutions. McFaul is also unconvinced that the unpredictability that comes with mass mobilizations is a threat to democratic transition. “Institutions formed under conditions of high uncertainty may be more democratic, more sustainable, and more efficient than institutions formed under less uncertainty.” He concludes that the most successful transition in Russia was the one that was not pacted but was imposed by the strongest actor, Yeltsin, in 1993. This led to an illiberal but electoral, partial democracy. While pacts are certainly to be preferred, says McFaul, and are more likely to lead to liberal democracy, other forms of transition to other forms of democracy are also possible.
But what if strong actors do not opt for democracy, and elites actually pact against democracy? This is precisely what Kathleen Collins has been investigating in her work on Central Asia. While the preconditions school would have expected that democracy must fail in Central Asia, given its lack of civic culture, traditional structures, and long experience with authoritarian rule, in fact one small republic, Kyrgyzstan managed to build a relatively democratic system after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Here the transitologists seemed to be right. But in the neighboring republic, Uzbekistan, pacts were concluded by powerful, clan elites, not for democracy, but for sharing power among clans in the framework of an authoritarian, post-Communist regime. Here the preconditionists appear to have the better argument. Traditional leaders acted to preserve their own power and ways of doing business, rather than agree to move toward a more democratic order. And in Tajikistan, the former Communist rulers resolved to hold onto power, despite competition from rival clans and regional Communist leaderships. This lack of pacting and refusal to move toward democracy led to a devastating civil war and the physical destruction of people and country.
Transitions, whether reformist or revolutionary, have both commonalities at a certain level of generality and their own specificities in different regions and countries. In the area of the former Soviet Union that I know best, the one in which I have done my own field work and research – what used to be called Transcaucasia and now is more often referred to as the South Caucasus -- all three states – Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan – embarked at one time or another in the 1990s on the road to democracy. But today they have made very little progress, and in many ways they have slipped backwards.
The first general point to be made, both in reference to this area, but also to the whole of the former Soviet Union is that the collapse of the old empire resulted in the unexpected independence of fifteen very weak states. Though some had nuclear weapons, the former Soviet republics were weak in the important sense of having fragile and embryonic state institutions, weak and disputed authority over their populations, and often no widely-accepted ideological rationale for the particular rulers to be in power. In the South Caucasus governments had weak, in some cases almost non-existent, military forces and were occasionally faced with local or regional paramilitary opposition.
Second, all three republics had to deal with the problem of national identity. A coherent and widely shared sense of the nation was strongest among Armenians and Georgians and weakest among Azerbaijanis. The republic of Armenia benefited from the highest degree of ethnic homogeneity in the former Soviet Union, while Georgia and Azerbaijan were ethnically much more heterogeneous. Fragmentation of the latter two republics occurred precisely along the lines of the Soviet-era institutionalized autonomies – Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Osetia, and Ajaria.
Third, localism, “clan” and regional elites, dominate both the economy and the political order in all three republics. The power of the central authority is highly contested, particularly in Georgia, and complex negotiation and sharing of economic and political power is the political norm in the whole region. Corruption is not just rampant; it is a way of life, deeply imbedded in the social structure and facilitated by kinship ties and cultural practices.
Fourth, commitment to democratic government and capitalist development was rhetorical and formal, and elites were willing to play fast and loose with human rights, elections, freedom of the media, and fair business practices. All three republics have experienced coups d’état, though there have also been a series of contested elections. The trend in all three republics has generally been from chaos and state weakness to relatively greater political stability and state solidity. This remains true, despite the assassination of the top leaders of the Armenian government at the end of October 1999 and the progressive erosion of authority of the Shevardnadze government and the rejection of Sahakashvili.
Fifth, the transitions have only partially removed the former Communist nomenklatura. Much of state property went into the hands of the former state managers. Communists became a new bourgeoisie in a highly monopolistic economic system. Politics gave powerful people economic power, and economic power gave these people clout in the political sphere.
As a result, fifth, ordinary, non-elite people have been effectively depoliticized, in a sense, disenfranchised; they are passive, sullen, disillusioned, angry, and see little hope for change for the better in the future.
Several factors help explain the variation among the South Caucasian transitions: the unity and consensus achieved (or not achieved) within the nationalist movements; the intransigence or flexibility of the ruling Communist elites; the nature of leadership in the nationalist movements; the nature of the various, competing nationalist discourses (inclusive, tolerant, and democratic; or exclusivist, intolerant, and authoritarian); and the divisive factor of interethnic strife (largely absent in Armenia; thrust upon the Azerbaijanis by the Karabakh resistance; and fomented and encouraged by nationalist leaders in Georgia).
The relatively peaceful and democratic victory of the nationalists in Armenia was facilitated by the moderately flexible Communist elite, which by mid-1989 was already working with the nationalists. The homogeneous ethnic composition of the republic, which precluded internal ethnic problems (Azerbaijanis were quickly deported or emigrated from the republic late in 1988 and early 1989), and the displacement of armed conflict outside the republic, to Karabakh, allowed Armenians to experience a relatively violence-free transition to democracy. The transformation of elites, finally, was lubricated by the ability of the nationalists to generate leadership and language that emphasized measured, pragmatic policies.
The delayed ascension to power of the Azerbaijani nationalists can be explained by the successful resistance of the Communist elite; its relative coherence and determination to hold on to its power; the late formation of the nationalist elite, its weak social base, and internal divisions. The inability of the nationalist elite to control effectively the autonomous mass movement, which expressed social as much as ethnic discontents, combined with the unpredictable and radicalizing factor of the Karabakh war, to undermine the legitimacy of the old elite and open the way for the return of representative figures from the old regime.
The road to civil war in Georgia lay through the extremism of the nationalist leadership that emerged in the conflict with the Communists. The April 9th killings radicalized the opposition and made accommodation with the Communists -- even as the latter attempted to find common ground -- almost impossible. The multinationality of the Georgian republic became a source of conflict, in part because of the legacy of Georgian hegemonic and privileged rule, in part because so little effort was made to find an inclusive rhetoric and program. Conflicts with the Abkhaz and Osetins created a cycle of violence that eventually enveloped the Georgian factions as well. When the divisiveness of the nationalist leader Zviad Gamsakhurdia's policies and rhetoric reached into the very heart of the nationalist counter-elite, leading politicians coalesced to overthrow the elected president and invite Eduard Shevardnadze, seen as a more conciliatory and prestigious figure, to reunify and pacify the fractured nation.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the simultaneous erasure of the "socialist choice," the new political game in town was nationalism. Only nation-based claims could compete in the new discursive and political environment for the available political and economic resources, for legitimacy and recognition by the great capitalist democracies and the multinational sources of funding, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. But in order for the claims of nationality to self-determination, sovereignty, and independent statehood to be fully acceptable to the international community, they had to be combined with the rhetoric and practice of democracy and a commitment to build a market system and to reject what was thought to be "socialism". The difficulties, if not impossibility, in the short run to create stable democratic states based on a dominant nationality were compounded by the deep and continuing weakening of state power, which was well under way under Gorbachev and only accelerated after the fall of the USSR. Just as a rule of law seemed within reach, a new and pervasive lawlessness overwhelmed the means of enforcement. The successor states, particularly the least repressive, lost their monopoly over violence, as semi-independent militias (like mkhedrioni in Georgia), nationalist guerrillas (fedayee in Armenia), remobilized Afghan veterans and mercenaries (in Azerbaijan) turned into independent, armed political actors. Over the whole process of state- and market-building hung the ever-present threat of civil and interethnic war. For the new national leaders the first priority was civil order and the creation of a credible state power.
When Mikhail Gorbachev provided an opening for pent-up political frustrations, the Armenian intelligentsia mobilized around three major issues: environmental pollution and the danger posed by the nuclear plant at Metsamor, near Yerevan; the perennial issue of Karabakh; and the corruption and stagnation connected with the long reign (1974-1988) of party chief Karen Demirchian. At the same time, the political leadership in Armenia was being undermined both from within and from above. Following the accession of Gorbachev to power, the central party press attacked the Armenian Communist party for corruption and favoritism. Unified around Demirchian, the Armenian Communist elite managed to thwart perestroika exponents who wanted to reform the party and replace Demirchian with a leader more in the Gorbachev mold until the outbreak of the Karabakh movement in February 1988. The Armenian Communist Party, largely discredited in the eyes of much of the population, rapidly lost authority to the growing movement in the streets.
After Demirchian fell in May, his successor Suren Harutiunian attempted to find common language with the growing national movement. But the Karabakh Committee, made up of nationalist intellectuals, many of them members of the Communist Party, became more radical, calling for full democratization and national sovereignty. Moscow's refusal to agree to the merger of Karabakh with Armenia and failure to deal firmly with the perpetrators of the Sumgait pogrom contributed to the greater intransigence of the opposition. Shortly after the December 7, 1988, earthquake, Soviet officials decided to restore their authority by arresting the members of the Karabakh committee. The attempt of the old authorities to rule, in a sense, "without the nation" led to voters boycotting the general elections called by Gorbachev in March 1989 and massive demonstrations in early May. Harutiunian's gestures to win over popular sentiment -- recognizing a holiday on May 28, the day the Dashnaktsutiun had proclaimed Armenian independence in 1918 and accepting the tricolor flag of the independent republic as the national flag -- culminated in the release of the Karabakh Committee members to the joyful greetings of demonstrators in Yerevan.
The next five months (June - October 1989) were marked by a kind of condominium of the Communists and the nationalists. As uncomfortable allies, much like the Popular Fronts and Communists in the Baltic republics, the competing Armenian elites actually made it possible for the popular nationalist movement to grow in a relatively free environment and for an eventual, peaceful transfer of power. In June, the mushrooming unofficial organizations joined together to form the Pan-Armenian National Movement (Haiots Hamazgayin Sharzhum, HHSh), and the government gave them official recognition. The emerging leader of the opposition, Levon Ter Petrosian, praised Harutiunian's defense of Armenian national interests at the Congress of People's Deputies and stated his belief that the interests of the Armenian Communist Party and the HHSh were converging. But by the late fall of 1989, the cooperative relationship between the Armenian Communist authorities and the HHSh broke down. The benefits of moderation had been exhausted, as Moscow not only refused to cede Karabakh to Armenia but decided to return control of the region to Baku. The Karabakh movement accelerated its efforts toward democratization and independence. Under HHSh pressure, the Armenian Supreme Soviet revised the republic's constitution and gave itself the power to validate USSR laws.
Torn between the Kremlin's refusal to allow the merger of Karabakh with Armenia and the growing popular movement that would be satisfied with nothing less, Harutiunian resigned as first secretary of the Armenian Communist Party (April 6, 1990). The Communists, identified with the now-unpopular Gorbachev, with Moscow's refusal to allow Karabakh to join Armenia, and with the legacy of corruption and repression that had marked their recent rule, had accumulated too many liabilities to govern effectively in Armenia. They fared poorly in the elections of the spring and summer of 1990, and the new Armenian parliament chose Ter Petrosian instead of the new Communist chief, Vladimir Movsesian, as its chairman.
As it moved step by cautious step toward independence through 1990 and 1991, the Armenian national leadership loosened the political and ideological ties between the USSR and Armenia, all the while assiduously avoiding direct confrontation with Moscow. Its leading theorists rejected the traditional Russian orientation of the Armenian intelligentsia. In place of the long-held view that Armenia could not become an independent state in face of the dangers of Pan-Turkism, that it required protection from the Russian or Soviet state, the HHSh argued that Armenians must abandon their reliance on a "third force," rethink their traditional hostility toward and fear of the Turks, and be prepared to create their own independent state by themselves now that the opportunity had arisen. These views echoed those long expressed by the leading diaspora party, the Dashnaktsutiun, though with significant differences. Exhibiting caution and pragmatism, the HHSh noted it was prepared to defer the question of Armenian lands in Turkey until the issue of full sovereignty and independence was resolved.
When the anti-Gorbachev plotters in August 1991 delivered the coup de grace to what was left of Soviet unity, Armenian voters struck out on their own political path, first on September 20 reaffirming the commitment to independence and secondly on October 16 overwhelmingly electing (83% of the vote) Levon Ter Petrosian president of the republic. The Karabakh Committee had by fall 1991 been transformed into the popular government of an independent state with only a weak and divided opposition. Ideologically forged in the struggle for Karabakh, the movement had quickly developed into a movement against the mafia-like party in Armenia.
The Armenian national movement, which had from its very inception been able to employ a repertoire of symbols and cultural constructions immediately recognizable to large numbers of Armenians, was both able to mobilize large numbers of people in a single cause and to remain relatively united around its leadership. The leaders' strategy of gradualism and constant pressure, rather than confrontation, was an important factor in the peaceful and relatively violence-free transfer of power. No enduring interethnic conflicts within the republic contributed to a cycle of violence, and the perceived danger of the Azerbaijanis worked as well to unify much of the population around the emerging nationalist leadership. When the Karabakh conflict escalated into the killings at Sumgait, blockade, and open warfare, Armenians forcibly deported Azerbaijanis from the republic but with little bloodshed.
In some ways the Armenian case parallels those in the Baltic regions, but in other ways it is quite different. As in Lithuania, so in Armenia the majority of the Communist party chose the nation rather than the Soviet Union. Unlike Latvia and Estonia, there were no so-called "internationalist" factions of the Communist parties in Armenia to appeal to the "forces of order" in Moscow. The attitude of the Armenian Communist Party, which worked with the nationalist movement for a time, resisted pressure from Moscow to take a harder line toward the Karabakh movement, and eventually rejected the option of a coup against the elected majority in parliament, contributed to the low level of internal violence. Even though Armenia was the first of the Transcaucasian republics to form a non-Communist government, the nationalists deliberately adopted a strategy of working within the limits of the Soviet law of secession and thereby avoided much of the violence from the center that responded to the more uncompromising push for independence, particularly in Lithuania and in Georgia.
Despite the war, blockade, failure to repair the damage suffered in the December 1988 earthquake, and growing apathy and despair that encouraged migration to the West, the government of Armenia under Ter Petrosian displayed an enviable stability and an apparently steady trajectory toward democracy and capitalism. But by the mid-1990s the chronic economic problems and the lack of tangible benefits from the victory in the war in Karabakh eroded the political base of the government. In February 1998 Ter Petrosian was deposed in a “constitutional coup d’état” and replaced by his prime minister, Robert Kocharian.
Almost immediately the new government adopted positions on the key national issues that differed from Ter Petrosian’s. The Ter Petrosian government had tried a turn toward Turkey instead of Armenia’s traditional orientation toward Russia. Instead of continuing militant efforts to merge Armenia with Karabakh, his government had adopted a much more nuanced policy, not recognizing Karabakh independence or calling for annexation, but emphasizing that the conflict was between the Armenians of Karabakh and Baku. At first, the Armenian public had been willing to support these unorthodox positions, though the diaspora and parts of the traditional intelligentsia were wary if not hostile, but both the withering away of Ter Petrosian’s personal authority and the government’s inability to obtain significant concessions from Turkey or Azerbaijan undermined support for these positions. The Kocharian government reverted to a more traditional nationalism, one more congenial to the diaspora and in line with the hard-line position adopted by the Karabakh government. Armenia turned back to a Russian orientation, and the genocide issue, always a source of pain and emotion for Armenians and a powerful wedge between Armenia and Turkey, re-emerged in public discussions with state sponsorship. As a consequence, a profoundly risky attempt to reorient the national discourse, albeit within the broad limits of Armenian identities, ultimately failed before intractable obstacles both domestic and foreign.
Armenia had a pact. The Armenian Communist Party basically agreed to allow the Armenian nationalist movement to come to power once it won contested elections in 1990. The nationalists under Ter Petrosian carried out a democratic transition, but economic collapse led to polarization between the ruling nationalists and more militant oppositional nationalists. The growing authoritarianism, dependence on the army victorious in the Karabakh war, and the unwillingness to accept the president’s solution to the war led to the fall of Ter Petrosian in the “constitutional coup d’état” in February 1998. The Minister of Defense, Vazgen Sarkisian, allied with the former Communist chief, Karen Demirjian, and won the elections of 1999. But they were both murdered in the fall of 1999, leaving Kocharian as the most powerful politician in the country but one that had to bargain with other powerful leaders. The public remained alienated and passive. Elections are held; the press remains relatively uncensored; but a general sense that real decisions are made without the participation and representation of society is widespread. Armenia is a kind of façade democracy.
The Failed Transition to Democracy in the Former Soviet Union
Now I have a kind of confession to make. A quarter century ago I worried greatly about the effort by enthusiastic Armenians to create an independent state and break up the Soviet Union. The USSR was an ed mpire, of course, but a very unusual one. It was an ideological state that refused to recognize that it was an empire. While all sovereignty was maintained in Moscow, the Communist system made colossal efforts to develop the peripheries of its empire. The Soviets transformed their vast country, industrialized a peasant society, created capital cities for each republic, built an immense infrastructure that included metros in all the union capitals. But ultimately the system worked in the interest of the whole as decided by Moscow. Armenia developed into a modern state but was restrained by the rules and practices of the center.
Twenty-seven years ago, in 1990, I was invited to give a talk at Yerevan State University. We did not know it then, but the Communist era was nearing its end. We were one year before the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the independence of Armenia and fourteen other union republics. Someone in the audience asked me, “What do you think of our independence movement? I was in an odd position, for I was opposed to the breakup of the Soviet Union and was hopeful that the reforms initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev would result in a more democratic socialist federation of equal, autonomous republics. In other words, that there would be a system different from the centralized Soviet state economy, then in collapse, but not imitating the market centered, largely unregulated capitalism favored then by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (what we now call ”neo-liberalism”). I was hopeful that what would emerge from the chaos of perestroika would be a looser more democratic federation of republics with greater self-rule but within a single state. I also feared Armenia on its own next door to Kemalist Turkey would be perpetually threatened by its neighbors. So, my answer to that question was: “I cannot imagine Armenia without Russia.” The audience was not happy with my answer.
As we remember, the end of the Soviet Union ushered in a brief euphoria both in the former Soviet states and the West that democracy and free market, neo-liberal capitalism was on the rise. Empire and autocracy, dictatorship and state-run economies, appeared to have been thrown on the “trashheap of history.” Western powers gloated that they, and the logic of the free market, had triumphed over the dark forces of communism, and that democracy would soon be in full bloom across the former Eastern Bloc. As it happened, while some post-Soviet states, like those in the Baltic region, were able to establish and consolidate democratic governments, most were not. Since roughly 2007 the world has experienced what some political scientists have called a “democratic recession.” Whereas the years from 1985 through 2007 were marked by a collapse of authoritarian and communist dictatorial regimes, the years after 2007 have witnessed the failure or decline of democracies. Armenia and Kygyzstan started off most promisingly on the path to democracy, but war and civil strife led to less democratic leaders coming to power in both republics.
Russia descended quickly from a failed democratic transition to an authoritarian system in which one president deftly handed power to another. The people in power controlled the media and made sure that oppositional candidates were not given much air time. “No election in post-communist Russia can be considered to have been free and fair,” Sakwa reminds us. Just as Yeltsin had engineered his own succession, ceding his office to his personal choice Vladimir Putin, so Putin in 2008 decided that instead of changing the constitution to allow himself a third term he would have Dmitri Medvedev, his faithful lieutenant, become president with himself as prime minister. There would be change but no change. Again, in 2012, Putin replaced Medvedev and retook the presidency in another engineered succession. Democracy, which by definition is about competitive elections and popular choice, was supplanted and subverted by elite manipulations of the electoral process.
As post-Soviet rulers in Russia and in most other formerly Soviet republics (with the exception of the Baltic republics, Ukraine, and Moldova) reestablished their own monopoly of power, not unlike their Soviet predecessors, the media came increasingly under the influence of the state and alternative elite figures were disciplined or punished. Post-Soviet politicians – according to Russian political scientist Vladimir Gelman – “consciously and consistently ‘poisoned’ political institutions for the sake of maximizing their own power and restraining (if not eliminating) their rivals.” Electoral laws were passed to favor incumbents, and elections were manipulated. The people in power designed the rules of the game to their own advantage. A soft authoritarianism with manipulated elections and state dominance of the media, but without widespread terror, became the norm in Russia and most of the other former Soviet republics.
Politics was not about winning, losing, negotiating, and compromising but about winning at any cost and holding onto power without surrendering it. Lenin and Stalin would have understood well this form of politics as warfare rather than negotiation. Russia’s authoritarian regime is comparatively less repressive than many other non-democratic, semi-democratic, and dictatorial regimes in the world. Media is controlled but allowed a degree of autonomy. The state is most concerned to maintain its hold over television, the medium through which most Russian citizens learn about domestic and foreign affairs. Demonstrations and protests are allowed but restricted. Elections are hardly truly competitive but they are performed. An opposition is tolerated, its members occasionally jailed; journalists investigate corruption and are occasionally bumped off.
Many of the leaders in the post-Soviet Union have nearly the same goals as Vito Corleone, the Godfather, and his clan – “maximizing their own power and wealth.” Both men use patronage and cronyism as the base of their power. Gelman argues that Russia had a good chance to become democratic in 1991, but in the struggle of political actors for power, the weakness of institutional and political constraints allowed them to maximize their power more than their counterparts elsewhere in the world. Yeltsin, unlike Gorbachev, did not hesitate to use military force against his determined (and formerly loyal) opposition in October 1993 with his siege of the parliament building.
Putin’s regime has been described as “managed democracy,” “sovereign democracy,” “façade democracy,” “electoral authoritarianism,” “competitive authoritarianism” – the list goes on. Putinism is a hybrid of constitutional forms that reflect democratic aspirations, the actual practice of authoritarianism, and a mix of both state capitalism and neo-liberal reliance on markets local and global. Putin used his military and police to subdue Chechnya as well as protestors in the streets of Russian cities. He successfully coopted potential opponents in the elites or had them arrested or driven out of the country, while much of society remained passive or supportive of his actions. “Over two decades of regime changes in post-Soviet Russia,” writes Gelman, “when at certain critical junctures Russia’s political actors faced the choice between moving in an authoritarian or a democratic direction, they opted for the former option almost every time.” In making those choices Yeltsin and Putin differed most profoundly from Gorbachev, whose hesitant moves tended toward expansion of liberalism and democracy and reluctance to use physical force. Yet Gorbachev is far less admired by ordinary Russians than either Yeltsin or Putin. He is seen as the man who destroyed the Soviet Union, weakened and impoverished Russia. Gorbachev, and democracy more generally, are equated in the popular mind with the chaos and collapse of the 1980s and 1990s.
Political scientist Adam Przeworski contends that authoritarian regimes are built on three pillars: “lies, fear, and economic prosperity.”
Those in power had no incentives to change the system in the direction of democracy, which would have led to their loss of power and property. The democratic opposition was no real threat to the Kremlin. The country muddles through; the regime hangs on; and Russia and the Russians suffer from a slow petrification of politics. As in much of Russian history, to paraphrase the Communist theorist Antonio Gramsci, the state is strong and society gelatinous.
In democratization theory we moved from structuralism to a high degree of agency, from preconditions to free elite or rational choice, from pessimism to optimism to pessimism. Political scientists have moved from transitology to intense studies of authoritarianism. They like to keep up with the times. What seems clear is that truth (excuse me for invoking that modernist word) must lie somewhere in the radical middle. Again, let me turn to the work of Kathleen Collins, which resonates so well with what I find in the Caucasus. Dr. Collins argues that agents and elites are certainly important; pacting makes the trip to democracy a lot easier; but we are doomed to misunderstand what is likely to happen in a pact if we do not consider the context in which elites operate. Thus, we must return – not to necessary preconditions for democracy – but to a serious consideration of culture, structure, and the importance of institutions. Culture and structure “shape and change -- stabilize or destabilize -- the very institutions that new elites are in the process of creating.” Along with elite decisions and pacts, other independent variables must be considered, like ideology, social pressure, religion, civil society, pre-transition political institutions, socioeconomic levels of development and economic distribution, and literacy levels. And finally the security or insecurity of the state, the dangers facing it internationally, must be considered.
Wars, the threat of war, frozen peace are the enemies of democracy and the friends of authoritarianism and national chauvinism. The conflict in Karabakh in many ways helped to erode democracy in Armenia. Armenians seem always in history to face a dangerous, unpredictable future, and the same in true today. What happens in Russia, Turkey, Iran, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and the United States has profound effects on Armenia. The turn, particularly in Turkey and Russia, away from Europe, away from democracy, toward authoritarianism and rabid nationalism, toward some vague and confused ideas of Eurasianism has dangerous consequences for Armenia. Since the Ukrainian crisis and the annexation of Crimea Putin’s Russia has become more nationalistic and has turned its face toward Asia, dreaming of an alternative to the Western variant of modernity. Turkey as well is playing with the fire of Eurasianism.
Four kinds of Eurasianism in Turkey
Pro-Russian Eurasianism: The main promoter of this variant is a community clustered around the small but vocal Homeland Party of Dogu Perincek, which functions as a virtual Russian lobby in the country. According to this community's point of view, Turkey today needs an alliance with Russia, similar to the anti-imperialist collaboration with the Soviets in the days of Kemal Ataturk. Turkey, this community argues, should develop close cooperation with Russia, the natural leader of the Eurasian bloc, in the realms of foreign policy, defense and security. To achieve that, it needs to shrug off the NATO tutelage, which the Western defense bloc has imposed on Turkey, and get rid of American shackles on defense and security matters.
Pan-Turkic Eurasianism: This variant, which has an ultranationalist and irredentist outlook, rejects alliances not only with the West, but also with Russia, which it sees as a historic foe that can never be Turkey’s friend. According to their vision, Turkey needs a rapid opening to Central Asia to secure the support of the region’s Turkic republics and build an alliance based on common ethnic roots, which could be then expanded to the Middle East under Turkey’s leadership.
Islamist Eurasianism: The proponents of this vision, too, argue that Turkey needs neither the West nor Russia, but point to the country’s Ottoman and Islamic legacy as the alternative path. The argument goes that Turkey’s Ottoman past and Islamic identity dictate for it a global role, which it cannot escape and will have to assume, sooner or later. The proponents support a global ummah vision for Turkey, which, they believe, is the only country that can become the driving force of a new order of justice, especially in the Sunni world. A Turkey-led Sunni world, they argue, can balance both the West on the one hand and Russia and China on the other.
Erdoganist Eurasianism: In this variant, Erdogan’s charismatic leadership is seen as the main factor securing the continuity of the state and strengthening the bond between state and nation, especially since the failed coup attempt last year. Proponents of this thinking argue that the West is averse to Erdogan because he is a strong leader. Erdogan, they believe, can fix most problems of the East, especially in the Middle East region. Thanks to his leadership, Turkey has asserted itself on the global stage, threatening US and European interests. Erdogan’s leadership — described as “transformative” and “resting on moral ground” — is seen as a challenge and a rebellion against the West-centered global order, reflected best in his assertion that “the world is bigger than five.”
Metin Gurcan is a columnist for Al-Monitor's Turkey Pulse. He served in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Iraq as a Turkish military adviser from 2002-2008. Resigned from the military, he is now an Istanbul-based independent security analyst. Gurcan obtained his PhD in May 2016, with a dissertation on changes in the Turkish military over the last decade. He has been published extensively in Turkish and foreign academic journals and his book titled “What Went Wrong in Afghanistan: Understanding Counterinsurgency in Tribalized, Rural, Muslim Environments” was published in August 2016. On Twitter: @Metin4020
So almost twenty-seven years after the fall of the Soviet Union, for better or worse, I still cannot imagine Armenia without Russia. But the imperial relationship between Russia and Armenia is not the same as it was in Soviet times. This small country lives in a dangerous neighborhood and for better or worse requires protection and support from its giant neighbor from the north. Many considered the ties between Russia and Armenia to be colonial and exploitative in Soviet times, but in many ways the relationship of Armenia with today’s Russia is in many ways far more colonial than those relationships were before 1991. The Soviets transformed Yerevan from a large village into a grand capital city, built a modern infrastructure, a metro, and while they restricted the freedom and sovereignty of Armenians they turned Armenia into a viable nation-state. But Putin’s Russia is not the Soviet Union, and Armenia is not part of a common state with Russia. Moscow thinks primarily of its own interests, which are often at odds with those of Armenia. And yet, still, I cannot imagine Armenia without Russia and wonder how that connection will help and hinder Armenia and Armenians in the coming years.
Armenia cannot be left alone with its own insular nationalism. Let me end with a rather dark and bitter joke that was popular at the end of the USSR.
This late Soviet-post-Soviet story tells of a young worm asking his father about life:
“Dad,” says the young worm, “what is it like to live in an apple?”
“Oh, son,” answers the dad, “living in an apple is wonderful; its juicy, crispy, delicious. It’s like living in Michigan.”
“Dad,” asks the son. “What is it like living in an orange?’
“Oh, son, living in an orange is incredible, it’s liquid sunshine, it’s California.”
“But, Dad, why do we live in shit?”
“Son! There is such a thing as the motherland!”
 Gabriel Almond, Political Development: Essays in Heuristic Theory (Boston: Little, Brown, 1970), p. 232.  Adam Przeworski criticized this idea by pointing out that this macrohistorical comparative approach correlated “the features of the point of departure and the point of arrival,” but ultimately “the outcome is uniquely determined by conditions, and history goes on without anyone ever doing anything.” [Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 96]  David E. Apter, “Comparative Politics, Old and New,” in Robert E. Goodin and Hans-Dieter Klingemann (eds.), A New Handbook of Political Science (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 382.  Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), p.  Larry Diamond, XXXXX  Marxists clustered in the “dependency theory” camp included Paul Baron, Andre Gundar Frank, Perry and Benedict Anderson, Eric Hobsbawm, Gavin Kitching, and Colin Leys.  Dankwart A. Rustow, “Transitions to Democracy: Toward a Dynamic Model,” Comparative Politics, II, 3 (April 1970), pp. 337-363.  Guillermo O’Donnell and Philippe C. Schmitter, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 38.  Ibid., p. XXXXX.  “Conversely, no transition can be forced purely by opponents against a regime which maintains the cohesion, capacity, and disposition to apply repression. Perpetuation in power or armed revolutionary struggle become the only likely outcomes of such cases.” [O’Donnell and Schmitter, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule, p. 21.  Abraham F. Lowenthal, “Foreword,” in O’Donnell and Schmitter, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule, p. viii.  As Valerie Bunce put it, “What is open for negotiation is not just the character of the regime but also the very nature of the state itself, not just citizenship but also identity, not just economic liberalization but also the foundations of a capitalist economy. What is also at stake is not must amendment of the existing class structure but the creation of a new class system.” [Valerie Bunce, “Should Transitologists Be Grounded?” Slavic Review, LIV, 1 (Spring 1995), p. 121]  Ibid.; ibid, p. 123. The debate continued, and concluded, with Terry Lynn Karl and Philippe C. Schmitter, “From and Iron Curtain to a Paper Curtain: Grounding Transitologists or Students of Postcommunism?” Slavic Review, LIV, 4 (Winter 1995), pp. 965-978; and Valerie Bunce, “Paper Curtains and Paper Tigers,” ibid., pp. 979-987. Karl and Schmitter denied pitting area studies and comparative politics against each other, displayed their own area studies credentials, and called for both cross-regional and intra-regional comparisons. Bunce agreed that both intra-regional and cross-regional comparisons were valuable, though she prefers the former as promising the best payoffs. By the end of the debate there was actually significant agreement on many points by all three authors, but Bunce remained agnostic as to the value of attempting to construct a big general theory of recent democratization that, in her view, would be so theoretically flexible that it would explain very little in fact.  Valerie Bunce, Subversive Institutions: The Design and Destruction of Socialism and the State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 5.  Ibid., p. 31.  Ibid., p. 68.  Ibid., p. 70.  Moreover, Bunce suggests that “comparatively robust civil and political societies, severe economic problems, and Communist parties with a strong reformist contingent [all factors found in Poland and Hungary], provide the foundation for pacted transitions.” [Ibid., p. 75] Bunce sees the structure of the Soviet Bloc, the hegemonic role played by the USSR and the particular approach of Gorbachev, along with the insignificant impact of civilian-controlled militaries, as contributing to a strategy of transition far different from the strategy of much of Latin America. It should be noted that here Bunce agrees with the transitologists that the process and forms in which transition takes place are relevant to the likelihood of successful democratization. But noting other differences between the east and south, she mentions the critical impact of nationalism, both in the democratic opposition, as in Poland and Armenia, and in the separatist movements that ultimately ended in the breakup of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.  Ibid., p. 158.  Michael McFaul, Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001); “The Fourth Wave of Democracy and Dictatorship: Noncooperative Transitions in the Postcommunist World” World Politics, LIV, 2 (2002), pp. 212-244.  Michael McFaul, “Lessons from Russia’s Protracted Transition from Communist Rule,” Political Science Quarterly, CXIV, 1 (Spring 1999), p. 104.  Ibid., p. 109.  Ibid., p. 111.  Richard Sakwa, The Crisis of Russian Democracy: The Dual State, Factionalism and the Medvedev Succession (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 3.  Vladimir Gel’man, Authoritarian Russia: Analyzing Post-Soviet Regime Changes (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), p. 25.  Ibid., p. 75. See also, Karen Dawisha, Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014).  Gel’man, Authoritarian Russia, p. 10.  Ibid., p. 13.  Adam Przeworski, Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 58-59.  Kathleen Collins, Class, Pacts, and Politics: Understanding Regime Transition in Central Asia (PhD dissertation, Stanford, 1999), p. 21.
Daron Acmeoglu, world renowned economist and author of Why Nations Fail delivered a talk over skype at a conference hosted by the University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies. The conference, entitled “END OF TRANSITION: Armenia 25 Years On. Now What?” was held in Los Angeles, on April 9.
Armenia’s former foreign minister Vartan Oskanian talks about the factors hampering Armenia’s development at the University of Southern California’s conference - “END OF TRANSITION: Armenia 25 Years On. Now What?”
The April 9 conference was hosted by the USC Institute of Armenian Studies.
Հայաստանի նախկին փոխվարչապետ Վաչե Գաբրիելյանը ՍիվիլՆեթի Կարեն Հարությունյանի հետ խոսում է Հայաստանի տնտեսական քաղաքականության մասին։ Տնտեսագիտության դոկտոր Վաչե Գաբրիելյանը, որն այժմ Հայաստանի ամերիկյան համալսարանի Մանուկյան Սիմոն բիզնեսի և տնտեսագիտության ֆակուլտետի դեկանն է, մայիսի 18-ին Լոս Անջելեսում մասնակցում էր Հարավային Կալիֆոռնիայի համալսարանի Հայագիտության ինստիտուտի կազմակերպած «Նորարար Հայաստան» ֆորումին։
«Քաղաքական շահագրգիռ կողմերը պետք է ձեռնպահ մնան գործողություններից և հայտարարություններից, որոնք կարող են ընկալվել որպես դատական ոլորտի վրա ճնշման գործադրում»,- նշված է Յուլիա Լովոչկինայի և Անդրեյ Շիրցելի հայտարարությունում, որը հրապարակված է ԵԽԽՎ պաշտոնական կայքէջում: Համազեկուցողները նշում են, որ Փաշինյանի կոչը հաջորդել է Հայաստանի երկրորդ նախագահ Ռոբերտ Քոչարյանին կալանքից ազատ արձակելու դատավորի որոշմանը:
«Առանց այս որոշման առավելությունների հանդեպ վերապահում անելու՝ ուզում ենք ընդգծել, որ դատական իշխանության անկախությունը օրենքի գերակայության նախապայման է, օրենքի գերակայությունն էլ լավագույնս ապահովվում է քաղաքական դերակատարների կողմից ցանկացած միջամտության բացակայության պայմաններում։