Anna Mkrtchyan from Armenia

Anna Mkrtchyan from Armenia

Text: Daniël Francke (EFF Intern)

About Anna

“My name is Anna and I am from Armenia, living in Yerevan and 26 years old. Right now I’m trying to finish my PhD. I’m active in politics in the Republican Party of Armenia and I’m currently working in the private sector as a lawyer, specializing in private law. I’m not only active in politics as an individual, but I am also the co-founder of the so called platform Armenia First, which is an initiative where professionals and also young specialists from different fields are trying to raise some questions and issues that need to be solved in the Armenian society and political life, we’re trying to be heard in public.”

What does democracy mean for you?

"A while ago I would have answered that democracy for me is a place where every person knows that your rights and freedoms are guaranteed and implemented. Unfortunately right now there is a conflict between Armenia and Azerbeidzjan in the Artsakh region with civilian casualties. In this case it is really difficult to tell what democracy is for me. I always think that for every person and country democracy is implemented in different ways, because some things might be important for me, but may not be noticeable for you. This is a phenomena that we need to solve. I think it is important to be aware of double standards, because very often the countries and individuals are trying to raise questions and are very open to finding the solutions in a different way. A certain act may be a freedom of speech for one person, while it can be violence or aggression for someone else."

"Democracy is also not something static. You cannot say that we have achieved some level of democracy and that’s all, we’ll be democratic forever after. I think it’s something dynamic and your political institution, your country, your society has always something to do in the field of democracy to maintain or improve the level, and not lose the achievement that you have made. It is the idea of evaluation: what is important and what is less important when we talk about democracy."

What developments do you see that are shaping democracy, in a positive or negative way, in your country?

"I hope we will improve and fix this misunderstanding between the society and the government that exists now. I think that the right way for Armenians and for Armenia as a country to maintain the level of democracy is that you need to find what is true and which way of democracy we want to choose. The perception of populism is that everything is good and beautiful, the sun is always shining, the freedoms and rights of the people are always maintained at a high level. I don’t think this is the right way and will lead us to a beautiful and sustainable country. I think it is time for my country to really face the challenges, to face the mistakes that we have made. I know that external factors have a lot to do with what is going on in the country with the region and the geopolitics surrounding us. We cannot ignore the fact that we have two geographic neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan, that we don’t have any diplomatic connections with and we are currently in war and have problems in the region. But I also know that we have internal problems that we can and have to fix, because in our country, a lot of things are going on. Doing nothing and picking about everything is exactly what is going on now in my country. "

"In our legal system we also have the checks and balances of the legitimate, executive and judiciary. In practice we see that the decisions made by the government and the ruling parties of our country are very much implemented without any doubt and without any discussions in the parliament, so this is a real threat to democracy and to other main values of the state."

What do you like about politics and what motivates you to be active in politics?

"In my country the majority of the people are talking about politics as if it is something very bad. People in politics are considered not to be honest and are considered to be liars and are people who just want to benefit from this position. I don’t think this is always the case, because in my perception the real politician, the person that really loves his country, needs to be ready to give to politics, and not to benefit from it. I have been in politics for six years now, and the main things that I receive are my skills, knowledge and background. I think that I am in politics because I think I have something to say to my country and society. I have ideas that need to be heard and discussed in public. Some people say politics is not the right field for women, but I want to show that politics is not only for liars and corrupt people, but I think it is time to change this misunderstanding."

Of which political achievement are you most proud?

"I’m not sure if I achieved things in my life that can be called a political achievement, but I do think that I have done things that I am proud of. For example, when I was 23 I was elected as a member of the Yerevan city council and also a thing for me to be proud of is that I have an opportunity to represent my country, my organization,  and my party in the different platforms outside and I always try to raise the issues that are, in my viewpoint, important for people living in my country. For example to speak about genocides, about the rights of people living in Artsakh and that is the thing that I’m really proud of."

What kind of support would you, or other young people active in your country, need more?

"I think that young people, for example in my area of law, need more platforms where our voices can be heard. I’m not speaking about privileges given to the young people because I really appreciate men and women who have a lot of experience, knowledge and skills. But I think that the platforms and opportunities that are given to young people are very narrow in my country, so you have to work really hard to be noticed as a young person. You are always considered to be someone who does not have enough experience. The dilemma is where we can gain this knowledge and experience if you are not allowed to come to the area you want to have experience in. For example, the ruling party in Armenia does not have a youth wing. They are not really interested in problems important for the youth. So I think that a fluent generation change in all the areas, also in politics, is very important."

What is the added value of the training (from organisations like the EFF) to your (political) development and to your country?

"Thanks to the trainers of the EFF, I have participated in many events with them and I can say that I gained a lot of skills and knowledge. In my academic sphere of law, everyone is silent about and not interested in politics. I’m a lawyer, so I have no chance in the academic field to have a discussion about what is right and what is wrong in the political system, what mechanisms are working, what should be forbidden in the political field etc. So I really appreciate the skills that I gained with the help of the trainers of the EFF. I became more self reliant, I can say that I am more confident and I really started to feel myself comfortable in politics and understand better how politics works. For example, I learned how to negotiate, how to behave in a political party and how to behave in relation to other political parties. I met a lot of people from other parties and all over the world because of the training of the EFF."

What was fun about learning something in the field of democracy or leadership?

"We had a so-called political game. All the participants had a role that we could choose, a world leader or a local leader in your country. First we had to define and characterize that person and describe the features and their behavior. After that we had to play that person, while other people from the workgroup were trying to assess if we played the role well and mimicked the characteristics of the leader. This assignment really gave us insight on how to approach someone if you had the chance to talk to them about a certain problem and how you can come to an agreement."


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