Some say the most important dates in Armenian history occurred thousands of years ago, but the nation has also undergone important changes in its recent history.
Hrant Bagratyan, the former Armenian prime minister, said Armenia now needs to go through a second wave of political and economic reforms to emerge as a modern nation.
Students and professors filled the Kalamazoo Room of the Michigan League last night to listen to Bagratyan speak about his time as prime minister from 1993 to 1996 and about the continuing work he says needs to be done in Armenia today.
Bagratyan became prime minister at the age of 35, and is considered the architect of Armenia’s transition to a market economy after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
His lecture, titled “Adapting to New Economic Values: Armenia in Transition,” focused on progress and evolution in Armenia.
He also spoke about the problems that arose after the first wave of reforms in the post-Soviet era, such as the difficulties stemming from privatizing businesses and industry after years of heavy state control over the economy.
Bagratyan explained some of those issues using amusing, yet informative analogies.
“An empire should be like a cake that’s on the table until everyone has a piece,” he said. “Once all the cake is gone, it should be over.”
He likened Armenia to a car that can only move forward if all the pieces are working properly.
Since resigning as prime minister, Bagratyan has held a variety of positions, but he is currently the vice president of an Armenia-based brandy company, one of the oldest companies in Armenia.
“He has first-hand experience in changing a part of the 20th century, and he will go down in history,” said History Prof. Gerard Libaridian.
Libaridian, who organized the lecture, said he expected a large and diverse crowd of students to attend the event.
Attendee Christine Harper, a graduate student in the School of Public Health, said she came to learn about how the country has recovered since the collapse of the Soviet system.
Harper said her brother will be serving in the Peace Corps in Armenia in June.
Another student who attended the event because of his interest in the recovery of Armenia was RC sophomore Aram Sarkisian, who said he came to get Bagratyan’s perspective on important governmental issues facing Armenia.