BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Typically, when writing about great events, articles are laudatory, extolling the virtues, significance, and grandness of dates such as May 28, 1918.
There’s no question as to the tremendous importance in the life of the Armenian nation of the creation of the first Armenian republic. It is stunning how such a feat was accomplished when hundreds of thousands of Genocide refugees filled the land, the world was being reshaped in the aftermath of one of the greatest wars in history, and Armenians had not had a full-fledged state in five and a half centuries (meaning that we had largely lost our tradition of governing).
It was in this context that the leaders of that generation, having just lived through the hellfire of genocide, war, and a four decade-long revolutionary process impacting three empires, had the presence of mind and wisdom to establish Yerevan State University whose 100th anniversary was celebrated just last week. A silver coin was even issued by the current republic in commemoration.
The foundations established by the first republic enabled the second, Soviet, Armenian republic to consolidate the gains of the first and establish some semblance of normalcy for Armenians living on their homeland. But even this was tempered by the realities of Soviet misrule.
The beginnings of the third Armenian republic, some three decades ago, were thus on a firmer footing. Cultural, educational, industrial, military, scientific, and broadly speaking, institutional infrastructures were in place. A quarter century has elapsed since it was formally constituted and what for we have to show for it?
A second uprising in Spring 2018 was necessary to begin cleansing the rot of corruption carried over from the Soviet period and entrenched through three presidential administrations. Those spearheading this uprising were among the best educated, savvy, and internationally trained elements of Armenian society.
It is in this context of a century’s worth of extreme sacrifice, wise building, and making the best of bad situations that I am compelled to view and interpret a recent development I became aware of a few days ago.
Noubarashen is home to Yerevan’s city dump (in more modern and polite parlance, the “landfill”). It seems the life of this facility is almost at an end, with only 5-10 years remaining. Naturally, an RFP (request for proposals) has been issued for a replacement. So far, so good, right? Planning ahead, preparing.
But, it seems this RFP never once mentions the term “recycle”! In this day and age, when zero-waste production, waste-becomes-food, and the planetary costs of overproduction are the concepts that are guiding societies towards a sustainable future, an omission such as this is utterly unacceptable. What’s worse is that those in power now are not stodgy carryovers from the Soviet era. They are younger, more aware, people, some of whom were probably involved in the environmental actions that saved important resources in the country and brought attention to the horrible practices poisoning the land surrounding the many mining operations that bring tidy profits to their owners.
Even worse is the fact that before the regime change that brought the current authorities to power, discussions had been under way for several months with a Polish company that was interested in setting up a recycling plant in the Republic of Armenia. A 96% recycling rate was claimed for this facility. That could have significantly reduced waste that would have to be landfilled. Thus, any new landfill would have had a much longer life.
It’s time we demanded more of the new leadership of the third Republic of Armenia. All the training and education the new generation has had the opportunity to receive must be put to full and good use in the interest of building up the country.
It is insufficient to just clean out the bad (i.e. the corruption currently being targeted by the new regime). It is necessary to create good, long lasting, wisely planned, infrastructure that will benefit future generations. That is the lesson of the first Republic of Armenia, governed by the greats of that revolutionary generation who came together under the banner of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation to plant the seeds which have borne the fruit we enjoy today.
Start urging your friends, contacts, and acquaintances in the homeland to live up to the standards set by Aram, Vratsian, Roupen, Tro/Dro, Aghpalian, and all the rest.