‘‘Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”George Orwell
Effective communication between the public and the authorities builds trust in citizens and is one of the cornerstones of establishing an orderly society. It should be even more effective in challenging times, such as natural disasters, wars, and pandemics, as the lack of communication can cause major issues, such as the spread of fake news, negative government image, and loss of trust.
These are issues the Armenian society encountered during the 44-day war with Azerbaijan as well as the post-war period. As the country declared martial law, authorities urged the public to follow only official news sources, as Azerbaijan led an aggressive information war.
Mane Gevorgyan, the press secretary of the prime minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, was and till this day is one of the official sources the public is supposed to follow for updates on the current situation as the consequences of the document signed on November 9 keep the tension high.
The press secretary, however, seems to not meet the requirements and expectations of the public, being heavily criticized for her perplexing clarifications as well as what facts show, false statements.
Why Does the Armenia’s Press Secretary Face Criticism?
As the Nagorno Karabakh War ended on November 9, 2020, the sides set about to realize the points of the ceasefire agreement. As the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan became subject to major changes, the public was nervously following the events as an utterly new border was being ‘drawn’ between the sides, the Armenian side suffering significant losses.
On November 26, Azerbaijani armed forces entered the gold mine of Sotk, located on the border of Gegharkunik Province, Armenia, and Kalbajar District, now Azerbaijan. This came as a shock to the society as not only the Azerbaijani troops could freely enter the territory of Armenia but also claim the mine to be theirs.
Mane Gevorgyan categorically denied this information. In the meantime, civilians were spreading videos of Azeri soldiers in the area of Sotk, telling the workers to leave the mine. This statement of the press secretary received a harsh public reaction and it seems like this was the incident to start the wave of criticism against the press secretary.
A recent incident that agitated the public was Gevorgyan’s perplexing clarification on the issue of the Nakhijevan corridor Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev keeps talking about since signing the November 9 joint statement.
Mane Gevorgyan has also allegedly edited her social media posts multiple times which is a valid reason for the public to put all her statements under doubt.
Another reason why people criticize the press secretary is that it looks like Gevorgyan doesn’t care to refute the serious accusations and claims of the opposition against the prime minister. This prepares ground for various allegations
The Consequences of Failed Communication
Playing an important role in providing communication between the public and the authorities in such challenging times, the fails of the press secretary Mane Gevorgyan may be judged too harshly by society.
As the facts show, Gevorgyan’s actions have negatively impacted the current relationship between the authorities and society.
It seems like people have lost trust in official sources and are now constantly looking for other ‘informal’ sources of information, which results in the spread of disinformation and social media chaos.
Additionally, such actions of the press secretary create a negative image for the prime minister himself. Considering the current negativity around Pashinyan as a political figure, Gevorgyan’s false statements don’t help the situation.
What is more concerning, as a result of these statements, along with the ambiguous clarifications given by the press secretary, the country and the government may receive negative media coverage, both local and international.