<<< Der Kaukasus und Europa / Caucasus and Europe
Europe – A Model of Replication or a Threat to Identity
Tigran Matosyan (Center for Cultural and Civilizational Studies, Yerevan State University)
The period between 2001 and 2007 has been marked by at least two major turning points in Armenia-Europe relationships: at the beginning of 2001 Armenia became a member of the Council of Europe; in 2004 the European Commission included Armenia into its European Neighborhood Policy. Along with these processes, Armenian officials in charge of foreign policy have been trying to demonstrate that Armenia, at least culturally, is an integral part of Europe, while the latter, with its different spheres of life, has been presented as an aspirational model.
However, the elitist discourse on the European ness of Armenia and the necessity to follow the European pattern has been accompanied by a non-official public discourse, a considerable portion of which – though being Eurocentric in its essence – has been criticizing European values and questioning their applicability to the Armenian reality. My paper attempts to define the contents of pro-European and anti-European rhetoric used in the public non-official discourse of Armenia in the period mentioned above. Besides this, the paper will gain a better understanding on current identity issues as expressed in the public debates relating to the general topic of Europe.
More specifically, my paper will draw the following conclusions:
- Modern Armenian public non-official discourse on Europe is characterized by debates representing essentialist and critical interpretations of present European culture as well as cautious attitudes toward certain European values and processes. Traditional constituent elements of the Armenian identity such as strong patriarchal family, heterosexuality, and the Armenian language are considered as potential victims of further Europeanization.
- Judgments about Europe are usually made with reference to the place of Armenian society and Armenian identity relative to Europe. In general, Armenia is perceived as located in the middle of Europe and Asia, while the Armenian identity is considered to be carrying both European and Asian elements.
- Dichotomous interpretations of the cultural location of Armenia contribute to the formulation of a general resolution to the Armenian identity threatened by globalization processes. More specifically, public discourse makers are offering a type of fusion of Western and Eastern value systems which will eventually enrich the Armenian identity.