Let me suggest two words: relativity and stagnation. Relativity could describe the large gap between the impressive economic statistics and the reality of everyday life here. Stagnation could describe an Armenian’s lifelong experience watching things remain the same, without ever seeing real progress.
But there were other reasons for the abrupt loss of public patience. Corruption has been characterized by the intertwining of power and capital and the use of one for the sake of the other, and vice versa. Ultimately, corruption has deprived Armenians of the right to good governance. And caused an erosion of public trust and confidence in the state and its institutions.
When the initial protest march left Armenia's second city, Gyumri, it consisted of only a few dozen people, most of them journalists. But by the time the march reached the capital Yerevan in mid-April, thousands more people had joined the movement. Within a few days, streets across Yerevan and the entire country were flooded with young people, most of whom were born and brought up in the “dark” years of the 1990s (i.e. without electricity).
A new generation was marching peacefully and with self-confidence, spreading the message that they are not indifferent anymore – on the contrary, they are fully invested in their future! There was a new sense of ownership and responsibility now for the country’s development.
In Armenia, one political era is over, and another just beginning. The burden of victory is heavy – fundamental change beckons. As does institutional change. I am quietly confident. It will take some time for the new leadership to adapt, certainly, but they are surely cognizant of the need to act with the people’s best interests in mind. Expectations are, understandably, high.
And the economic outlook remains positive. This suggests a window of opportunity now to tackle and accelerate the challenging reforms that Armenia needs in order to unleash a new growth model – one that is both inclusive and sustainable going forward. The upcoming World Bank Country Partnership Framework for 2018–22 will support Armenia on this important journey.
I am optimistic that the momentum will continue, and that this blink of hope will eventually lead to a brighter future for Armenians. Now is not the time to remain apathetic – it is the time to move forward.