23 April 2018
The Future of Local Government in Europe: Lessons for Armenia
Arman Gasparyan, PhD student at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Over recent decades but especially following the financial crisis of 2008, local governments in Europe found themselves facing a multitude of new challenges, such as demographic change, climate change, public debt, digitalization, demands for more participation and inordinate inflows of migration into some European countries. Consequently, a wave of political and administrative reforms aimed at coping with these challenges has changed local governance in many countries. In part, these changes were the result of reform policies introduced by national and state governments, often triggered by austerity, which has become a daunting issue for an increasing number of European municipalities. Drawing scientific conclusions from the comparative study of “The Future of Local Government in Europe: Lessons from Research and Practice in 31 Countries” the current research derives evidence-based policy recommendations for consideration by policymakers and local governments in Armenia. The research attempts to measure the extent to which local reforms carried out in Armenia have replicated those of Europe? Is that even practicable? These are some of the questions that will be discussed during the seminar.

22 March 2018
The Future of Local Government in Europe: Lessons for Armenia
Siranush Dvoyan, AUA lecturer

The Soviet Gulag was an inseparable part of the Soviet state system. Based on the Marxian idea of man’s dialectical relationship with labor, Soviet Corrective Labor Camps (Gulag) was an institution exploiting the potentiality of work and man’s body. Official protocols and literary descriptions show us what life in the Gulag was like. In the Gulag, two opposing languages developed: one by administrative authorities for their official communication and another by prisoners for daily communication. Both prisoners and administrative authorities used codified language. While official protocols and records of interrogations of detainees represent a fairly well-developed language, the language of detainees evolved spontaneously. For prisoners it was a means of survival, while for administrative authorities it was a means of control. Examining the vocabulary and structures used by both languages, a complementary, but deep-rooted relationship between the detainees and the administrative authorities in the Gulag will be discussed.

27 February 2018
Startups, Setbacks, and Solidarity: Lessons and Surprises from the Syrian-Armenian Experience
Hagop Toghramadjian,Fulbright scholar, TCPA

Since 2011, approximately 22,500 Syrian Armenians have arrived in the Republic of Armenia, around 12,000 of whom remain in the county today. Despite the relatively small size of this population, its symbolic, economic, and cultural importance is profound.

This seminar will address the following questions:

How does the influx of Syrian Armenians differ from previous waves of immigration to Armenia?
Is it possible to quantify Syrian Armenians’ economic impact?
Is Armenia “home” for Syrian Armenians? Will they stay in the country?
What does the Syrian Armenian experience teach us about the current capabilities of the government of Armenia? What does it teach us about Armenian NGOs?

FALL 2017

22 November 2017
States, Society, and Genocide-Prevention
Benjamin Abtan, President of EGAM: European Grassroots Antiracist Movement Coordinator of the Elie Wiesel Network of Parliamentarians for the prevention of genocide and against genocide denial.

What actions by civil society and states can protect life and prevent genocides from occurring? This talk will provide a historical overview from the Armenian genocide to current mass murders and give a presentation of current initiatives for genocide-prevention.

8 November 2017
Two Concepts of Nationalism
Mikayel Zolyan, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Philosophy, Sociology and Law, National Academy of Sciences

In the presentation Mikayel Zolyan will talk about the conceptual distinction between ‘ethnic’ and ‘civic’ types of nationalism, sometimes also known as ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ types of nationalism, and about the degree to which this theoretical distinction applies to the Armenian case. He will start by defining the main concepts, such as nation, ethnicity, nationalism, in order to avoid misunderstanding, since these terms usually have quite different meanings in everyday usage and in the academic discourse. Then the speaker will examine whether the Armenian nation is ethnic or civic and discuss how useful the distinction between ethnic and civic nationalism is for understanding Armenian national identity.

25 October 2017
Rousseau, Democracy, and Moral Liberty
Simon Clarke, PSIA Program Chair, AUA

In The Social Contract (1762), Rousseau provides a justification for democracy over other forms of government. Democracy is more legitimate, he argues, because when the people are Sovereign and rule through the General Will they achieve moral liberty. Moral liberty is obedience to a law which we have given to ourselves. Having moral liberty makes us masters of ourselves. A problem with this argument is that it is unclear how the losing minority in a democratic vote achieve moral liberty. The majority may have given the law to themselves, but how do the minority achieve moral liberty when they did not vote for the law and disagree with it? In this seminar, I will critically examine some possible solutions to this problem. These solutions all try to show that in a democracy, everyone achieves moral liberty when the people decide the laws, whether they vote for a law or against it. I will argue that most of these proposed solutions fail but that one of them does succeed.

11 October 2017
Hierarchy in International Relations: Regional specifics and the post-Soviet space
Vahagn Aglyan, Chair, Public Administration, Department of International Relations, Yerevan State University

A phenomenon of hierarchy in international relations not only exists in practice but also matters significantly. Empirically, a common hierarchical regional system can be defined as a regional international system composed of a single Great Power and a number of relatively small states. Structural preconditions for the sustained hierarchical pattern of interstate relations rest on variety of factors, among them resource asymmetry between the dominant state and smaller countries, structural dependence on dominant state as well as political will and readiness on the part of the dominant state to carry on the burden of sustaining the hierarchy. The major dimensions of hierarchical international relations comprise the economic and security spheres, pertaining to the issues of policy convergence between the dominant state and subordinate ones. Some scholars describe the post-Soviet region as a separate security system, a unipolar structure that is obviously predisposed to the hierarchical patterns of international relations.

27 September 2017
Current Debates in Turkish Foreign Policy: the Case of Cyprus
Muzaffer Şenel, Assistant Professor, Director, Center for Modern Turkish Studies, Istanbul Sehir University

The aim is to map the current issues of Turkish foreign policy especially focusing on the Cyprus issue. The talk will discuss the positions of the key stakeholders, i.e, Turkish Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Turkey, Greece and the UK together with the USA, UN, the EU and Russia. Developments after the UN-backed Annan Plan, the implications of EU membership of Greek Cypriots, and series of intensified talks will also be considered in the light of newly founded energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

20 September 2017
LGBT issues in Armenia
Mamikon Hovsepyan, Executive Director, Pink Armenia

This seminar will examine the politics of LGBT issues in Armenia. What are the rights of members of the LGBT community and to what extent those rights are respected in the country? What does the government do to protect those rights and what more can it do? The absence of legislative arrangements to ensure the proper realization of LGBT persons’ rights allows homophobic people in society to carry out attacks against LGBT people. Moreover, the opinions of the law enforcement agencies are a hindrance to the disclosure of offenses committed against LGBT people. As a result, bringing perpetrators to justice is practically unsuccessful within the framework of existing legislation. What are organizations such as Pink Armenia and others doing to bring about greater recognition and protection of the rights of LGBT people?

6 September 2017
The Crisis in Democratic Governance in Armenia and the US
Eric Hacopian, Political Consultant, EDH & Associates (California, USA)

The seminar will compare and contrast the crisis in democratic governance in Armenia with the current political events in the United States and Western Europe. Comparison will be made between the underdevelopment of the democratic system in Armenia, specifically of its unique non-democratic, yet non-totalitarian political structure and the challenges to the legitimacy of traditional democratic politics expounding on last year’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election to the presidency of the United States. We will discuss the specific areas of commonality and differences in detail and finish with a discussion of what these mean to the future of democratic politics in Armenia and in the West.