Armenian president speaks about role of youth in politics in thinly veiled reference to Erebuni incident
28 August 2016

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan on Saturday addressed the issue of the role of young people in Armenian politics and society, and made thinly veiled references to the events that took place in July when armed men occupied the Erebuni police station and held hostages for two weeks, whilst police clashed with demonstrators outside. The armed men were mostly veterans from the Karabakh war and their action received unexpected support from different sections of Armenian society, including many young people. In his speech the Armenian president said it was normal for young people to have different views but condemned the use of violence and said it was not right that certain forces try "to stir-up the conscious and mentality of the people, stemming from their own interests".

Sargsyan visited a pan-Armenian youth camp, BAZE 2016, where around five hundred young people from Armenia, Karabakh, the Georgian district of Samskhe Javakheti and the diaspora were attending a week-long event which finishes today.  Earlier in the day the President also visited a training camp of the Yekrapah organisation a verteran's organisation that also plays the function of a semi-official territorial army.

Speaking at the tightly choreographed BAZE 2016 event, the Armenian President told the gathering that violence never makes anyone stronger, but only weakens them.

"I'm saying this since revolutionary sentiments are in many cases peculiar to the young people too, since that romanticism comes from lack of experience. This should always be taken into consideration.  Political struggle is very normal, and our youth has not once engaged in political struggle - including a street one - for defending their and the society's rights. I reiterate, this is normal. The abnormal thing is when people or organizations and services try to stir up the conscious and mentality of the people, stemming from their own interests," the President stressed.

Referring to the issues of interest to youth, the President noted that they lack Western model of education, but that is not their fault: introduction of such a competitive system requires long time. He assured his audience that Armenia will carry out work in that direction.

"I must once again confess that I have a very high opinion about our new generation. It is not a secret that oftentimes and in different situations people complain of our youth and the new generation, saying that they read little, are passive and depoliticized, that they refuse many of our national traditions and try to introduce foreign traditions into our society, etc. I reiterate, I don't agree with that idea and I don't think that our youth needs re-education or patriotic admonitions, since there have been fatal points for our country, during which our youth manifested itself brilliantly," he noted.

The President considered it normal for the young people to have different opinions on certain issues "But it is unacceptable when during a political struggle, or such arguments, an attempt is made to solve the issues through violence or, worst of all, weapons. This is unacceptable," he stressed, adding that violence has never led to good results.

Since the events in Erebuni there has been considerable disquiet in Armenian society where discontent on a number of issues bubble under the surface in a tightly controlled political environment. Speaking earlier this month President Sargsyan promised change, but so far little has been said about what this change will look like and he made no reference to that in his speech on Saturday.

Earlier in the day the Armenian president also visited the camp of Yekrapah, an organisation that plays a dual role as a veteran's organisation and a semi-official territorial army. 13 batches of trainees passed through the camp since last May, the President was informed.

During his visit to the provinces of Kotayk and Ghegharkunik on Saturday President Sargsyan also visited the "Sevan Start-up Summit tent camp" at Sevan National Park. 350 young people from Yerevan, other Armenian provinces and the diaspora are taking part in an event organised by "Start-up Armenia Foundation" from August 18 to 28.

source: with the press service of the Armenia president and

photo: Armenian president Serzh Sarrgsyan visited Gegharkunik and Kotayk provinces on Saturday 27 August 2016 to meet groups of veterans and young people at the end of their summer camps.(picture courtesy of the press service of the President of Armenia).