Spring 2015

11 May 2015
Armenia: A Country in Search of Leaders. An Analysis of Post-Soviet Armenian Political Elite and Its National Discourse
Irina Ghaplanyan, PhD in Political Science and International Studies

This study is an empirical study of the post-Soviet Armenian emergent political class. The study suggests that the understanding of how post-Soviet Armenian political class emerged requires analysis of both internal and external factors. Drawing on an interpretive account of cultural and historical sources of the emergent leadership and contending that in the process of constructing and articulating the new national narrative, this political class played an overwhelming role. In doing so, this class constructed and articulated the national narrative guided foremost by the notions of power appropriation and consolidation, leading not only to a disconnect between the political narrative and the subsequent policies, but also and most importantly to a failure of the national project.

27 April 2015
Political Power is More than Deontic Power
Arshak Balayan, AUA Instructor

The author attempts to provide a critical evaluation of the conception of “political power” as understood by John Searle. In the first section of this paper, he presents J. Searle’s arguments which take him from brute facts to political power and identify some shortcomings. In the second part of this paper he evaluates J. Searle’s results and brings arguments that justify the claims that J. Searle: 1) misinterprets the difference between brute facts and institutional facts by overestimating the role of language and status function declarations in formation and sustainability of social institutions. 2) equates political power with legitimate political power and thus is unable to explain political actions such as war and terrorism, and 3) does not explain human behavior or social processes, but offers a new description of social phenomena, which, however, are not particularly promising in heuristic sense.

13 April 2015
Azerbaijan’s Anti-Armenianism and Aggression: A Need to Re-Evaluate Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Plan
Nvard Chalikyan, AUA PSIA Alumna

The talk addresses the present realities of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with a particular attention to anti-Armenianism that is rampant in Azerbaijan. Anti-Armenianism in its different forms, both as a state policy and a publicly acceptable phenomenon in Azerbaijan, coupled with intensified ceasefire violations are discussed in the framework of the long-term security of Nagorno-Karabakh and the whole region. It is argued that there is a need to address the problem of anti-Armenianism both within the Nagorno Karabakh conflict resolution process and within the framework of the current international outcry on human right violations in Azerbaijan. Based on the above, the talk highlights the need to re-evaluate the peace plan currently on the table (and particularly some key issues such as the question of territories) and to explore other alternatives towards long-term peace.

02 April 2015
Policy Priorities for Building an Inclusive, Rights-Based, Barrier-free Armenia
Victor Pineda, Adjunct Professor, University of California at Berkeley and Research Fellow at the World Institute on Disability

Professor Pineda’s talk evolves around the idea of transforming urban systems for persons with disabilities and increasing their access to local planning. In doing so the author presents an award winning framework developed as a result of the “Inclusive Cities Lab” Initiative. Dr. Pineda discusses the importance of legislative measures, executive leadership and support, administrative coordination and participation of target groups in the process of building a society for everybody. He also reflects on the importance of developing a strategic communication and engagement plan to eliminate social barriers defined as public attitudes and awareness. The author concludes recognizing the importance of academic communities’ involvement in providing solid evidence to the policy and decision makers to make conventions, and highlights that disability activists are useful partners for the governments.

30 March 2015
Old Challenge, New Priorities: Deterring Russia And Smart Defense
Arman Gasparyan, PSIA alumnus, AUA

Since the regime change in Ukraine, an unprecedented chain of events has been set into motion. First, the rise of secessionist sentiments in the East and Southeast of Ukraine has led it into a brutal civil war (officially it’s an “Anti-Terrorist Operation”). This is the first civil war on the European ground ever since the collapse of Yugoslavia. Likewise, it is the first time after the war in Yugoslavia that a local conflict has led to an intervention (overt or covert), namely, the Russian involvement in the Ukrainian events, first by a covert (and then confirmed by Kremlin) military intervention in the Crimea (despite the minimal level of violence) and then by supporting – indirectly and militarily, by force – the Ukrainian secessionists fighting against the Ukrainian military and paramilitary. This happened right in the middle of discussions about the future of NATO and its strategic goals – and the old rival has stepped in to “assist” the alliance in its consolidation against Russia – even temporary. This process has been fueled by the legitimate concern of the Baltic countries that have significant Russian-speaking population. This paper addresses the issue of NATO’s eastern border’s vulnerability to any hypothetic Russian aggression; assess NATO’s current deterring and fighting capacities; and propose ways that Smart Defense could best be utilized based on these findings.

23 March 2015
Religious Dimension of Armenian Genocide: Islam
Anush Bezhanyan, Institutional Research Manager and PSIA alumna, AUA

Ordinary Turks today continue to call Armenians “Gavur,” meaning unbeliever in order to emphasize the religious difference. This difference was the most significant pillar for justifying massacres during the decline of Ottoman Empire that culminated in the genocide of 1915, and the attempt to obliterate the Armenian statehood. The ideal type of homeland, as a symbol of Turkish identity exhibits that the aspiration for the rebirth of a mythical Turan populated by Turkish speaking Muslim nations is not buried in the past. While the collapse of Ottoman Empire raised hopes for a secular society, reference to Islam, more precisely to its pervasive interpretation overtly or covertly overwhelmed the mind of political leaders throughout modern times. How Islam was interpreted by Ottoman and Young Turk officials to justify the cruelties toward the Armenians? I argue that the lack of national identity in Turkish consciousness impacted the Ottoman perception of other nations and led Turks to pervasively interpret Islam as a source for achieving political ambitions. The increased level of grievances that followed Tanzimat reforms and the influx of persecuted Muslims along with territorial losses in the Balkans served for an effective mass mobilizing instrument that legitimized the power of authority to carry out cruelties against the Armenians. In this context, the efforts that were believed to secularize and modernize Turkish society resulted in de facto exclusion of pluralism and had the reverse effect, the proof of is which was the Armenian Genocide.

16 March 2015
Armenian Civil Society after Twenty years of Transition: Still-Post Communist?
Valentina Gevorgyan, Research Associate, TCPA

The recently-completed study by the Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis discusses the communist legacy, trust toward the civil society sector, engagement and membership in the civil society organizations, volunteering, changes in the social and political environment of Armenia and more. This is a comprehensive study based on the secondary data analysis and application of quantitative and qualitative methods: an organizational survey and semi-structured interviews. The study was conducted from 2012 to 2014.

02 March 2015
Global Fascism and the Armenian Genocide: Revisiting Forgotten Parallels
Vahram Ter-Matevosyan, PSIA, Senior Lecturer

Until recently, there has been little interest in Turkish experience with fascism, treating it as a purely European phenomenon unsuitable for non-European contexts. However, literature has emerged that offers an alternative framework to the study of fascism outside of Europe, which is also known as a “Global fascism”. The paper is an effort to look at the emergence of the fascist ideological currents in the Ottoman Turkey and to examine their impact on the emergence of the genocidal policies in Turkey.

16 February 2015
New Realities in the Middle East – “Islamic State”
David Manasyan, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for National Strategic Studies

The establishment of the “Islamic state” in the territory of Iraq and Syria as a new reality in the Middle East adds considerable relevance to the problem for comprehensively covering this phenomenon. This presentation covers the topic dealing with the rise and evolution of the “Islamic State” in the context of political and social transformation of the Middle East and growing radicalization of the region. Main focus is on the Ideology of “Islamic State”, its system of government and structure, financial and military resources as well as its foreign fighters’ recruitment strategy and the extensive use of social media propaganda. The problems of containing and degrading the “Islamic State” and the challenges facing ethnic and religious minorities of the region are also presented. The focus also is on the research process including the conceptualization of the problem, the literature review, the data collection and analysis, as well as the interpretation of the results.

09 February 2015
Europeanizing the Other: an EU Model of State-Building
Aram Davtyan, Head of the Department of International Cooperation and Foreign Affairs, Public Administration Academy of the Republic of Armenia

With the adoption of a wide range of crisis management tools within the framework of Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), the EU has shifted towards an active international role in crisis management. This represents an instance of EU’s state-building practices with state-building understood as the externally-assisted construction and reconstruction of the institutional infrastructure. EU’s highly invasive forms of external regulation seem to be a legitimate way of assisting underdeveloped, post/under-conflict countries. The example of EU illustrates that policies of state-building have become an important crisis management, or better put crisis prevention, strategy. The EU is hardly the sole actor in launching state building strategies. Its role has emerged in tight interaction with other players. The current study aims to outline the perspective of the EU-US-UN dynamics to draw out this shifting interdependence of expectations and roles. It also summarizes the strategies of state-building demonstrated by EU and US to examine whether they represent different approaches to shaping ‘the other’ and thus an attempt to protect ‘the self’.

02 February 2015
100 Years 100 Facts
Nareg Seferian, Adjunct Lecturer, CHSS UGRAD

The 100 Years, 100 Facts Project is a unique way to commemorate the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. The website 100years100facts.com has been regularly publishing facts on Armenian history and culture – one hundred in total, from April 24, 2014, to April 24, 2015 – linked through social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+. 100 Years, 100 Facts aims to take marking the Armenian Genocide into the 21st century as an educational and awareness campaign leveraging the power of the internet and social media. This event includes a presentation of the project, followed by a discussion on changes in and novel approaches towards commemorating the Armenian Genocide. This presentation is part of the 1915 Centennial series at AUA.

26 January 2015
Should Vaccination Be Compulsory? Political Theory and Individual Rights
Simon Clarke, Associate Professor and Program Chair, AUA PSIA

Immunization is an important social good but many people choose not to have their children vaccinated. This presentation examines whether there is any principled objection against mandatory  vaccination. The author examines two of the strongest theories of individual rights, and argues that on neither of them there is reason to think that compulsory vaccination violates people’s rights.