“What Consequence will Granting the Russian Language an Official Status Have in Armenia?”
On July 17, during the meeting with Ara Babloyan, Armenian National Assembly Speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, Russian State Duma Speaker, proposed to grant the Russian language the status of an official language so that the national driving licenses could be recognized in Russia.

“I can say only this –grant the Russian language official status in Armenia and in this case, the law will be automatically refer to Armenia,” Volodin said. 

The purpose of Russia to make the Russian language official in the post-Soviet states, including Armenia, is not news, and the Russian officials have frequently made similar statements.

Russian Official Policy and Armenia's Insufficient Official Encounter

During the discussion entitled “What Consequence will Granting the Russian Language an Official Status Have in Armenia?” at Media Center on July 19, the speakers were very strict while talking about the Russian side's suggestions, saying that the proposal is so absurd that even it should not be included on the agenda for discussion.

Arayik Harutyunyan, a member of “Yelq” Faction of Yerevan Council of Elders, Lecturer at Yerevan State University, mentions that one of the priorities of Russian foreign policy has always been to get official status for the Russian language in the CIS countries, which fits within the framework of the so-called “Russian world” ideology. The latter informed that in 2007, such request-demand was made to the Armenian authorities at the highest level.

“In 2010, during a closed meeting in the framework of “We are against the Opening of Foreign Language Schools” movement, one of the Armenian officials told us about it. I cannot give his name because it was a closed meeting. At that time, the Armenian authorities strongly opposed the Russians. However, such experiments are regularly conducted. Now is the same process, through soundings, they try to understand how the society in that country reacts.”

The speaker adds that in this case, the government is not so much important, they focus on the society. And the society opposed very strongly and will go on doing it.

Armen Hovhannisyan, Member of “We are against the Opening of Foreign Language Schools” movement, replied to Media Center’s question whether the pro-Russian moods in some large part of the Armenian society could be an additional pressure by Russia on the language issue. He said that the issue of the language is an exceptional topic and the foreign political orientation will hardly have a big impact.

“I do not think that all the people, who, for some reason, are pro-Western or pro-Russian oppose our language, the Armenian statehood. I think that the attitude towards the language is one of the fundamental values of our society, which unites regardless beliefs, social and political orientations,” Armen Hovhannisyan said, expressing conviction that changing the status of Armenian is unacceptable for the overwhelming majority.

Samvel Karabekyan, a higher education expert, mentions that he is not interested in the official Russian policy, even considering it natural, as they are trying to advance their interests. However, he is surprised by the reaction of the Armenian officials.

“When I got to know Armenian officials' responses, I was just amazed. I was amazed at such irresponsible reaction, “there is no such an agenda..." and we are satisfied with this saying that we have rebuffed. As a citizen, when I hear such a statement from an official, I doubt if it is another cheating,” Karabekyan said.  

Insufficient State Policy to Protect the Language

Arayik Harutyunyan thinks that in order to protect the language from such encroachments a clear state policy is needed, which, however, is absent.

“It is necessary to encourage the creation of Armenian content, to deprecate writing in Latin, Cyrillic and other similar instruments,” the speaker said.   

The latter considers a positive trend that this generation speaks excellent Armenian because they pass all the subjects and get the content in Armenian.

“But this is not enough. Today, we have very little content in Armenian in the age of information technology. In the 21st century, electronic content should be taken seriously,” Arayik Harutyunyan said.

Armen Hovhannisyan noticed that the current authorities have a problem to understand what means constitutionalism and state language.

“If a state recognizes a state language in the Constitution, it is not only that they speak Armenian in the parliament. It is also a very serious commitment to the state to preserve and develop that language,” Armen Hovhannisyan said.

Samvel Karabekyan expressed an opinion that Armenian studies are in an awkward state.

“That's because our Armenian studies are not up-to-date, it is left in a very small circle.”

To watch the video, follow the link.  

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