The second part of this headline has been borrowed from Rev. Abraham Hartunian’s memoirs on the Genocide, Neither to Laugh Nor to Weep, because it reflects and defines the mood in Armenia today.
In preparation for the forthcoming 30th anniversary of the country’s independence, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced in a parliament session that the government had set up plans to mark the anniversary with grand and colorful celebrations.
The reaction was swift and intense, yet not for the reasons the premier might have hoped for. The announcement touched a raw nerve particularly amongst the family members of the martyred soldiers. There were flash mob events facilitated through Facebook by the grieving families, some of whom threatened to disrupt those celebrations.
In today’s polarized atmosphere, any issue can be cause for controversy. Therefore, it was not surprising that the opposition seized the opportunity to capitalize on the massive emotional outbursts by the families of the victims.
In the past, the independence anniversary was celebrated on Republic Square, with military parades and the demonstration of state-of-the-art weaponry backing the Armenian armed forces’ claims to be the most powerful fighting force in the region. After last year’s defeat, any such display not only would prove to be arrogant but would also expose and project the true picture of the army; if Armenia displayed its obsolete hardware, that would encourage the enemy to plan its next move accordingly. On the other hand, if Armenia paraded weapons recently procured from Russia, that would pose another political problem. That is why the government has opted for a colorful, civilian celebration and a company was hired whose founder revealed that “only classical music would be featured.”
But that did not calm the public and the controversy went viral.