With only a few exceptions, the intensity of feedback and indicators of views of materials on army topics in online media were within typical range, regardless of the fact that the topic of the army was among the topics that have deserved stable attention especially in the recent years.
For example, about half of all materials on the topic of the army in 1in.am was viewed from 1000 to 5000 and more times, half of suchlike materials in Aravot.am were viewed from 100 to 500 times, the vast majority of materials in 168.am – 88% – remained within the range of 1 – 500.
The level of active feedback from the audiences was even lower. The obvious majority of materials about the army in all media outlets had a stable 1 – 500 likes/shares, and 91% of the materials in 168.am had 1 – 100 likes/shares.
A few materials of different kinds and focusing on other issues caused special attention, being read tens of times more frequently within the same period and getting a few thousand more likes than usually. For example, in 1in.am the article on the topic of the army, titled “The Opration to “Throwing Mud” on Vigen Sargsyan is Successfully Completed” (on evasion from the army), was read 160 920 times. In Aravot.am the most viewed material (“Azerbaijani military forces are bombing Barekamavan”, the topic of Karabakh conflict) had an indicator of 13647, in 168.am the most read material was “The Term for Mandatory Military Service by the Contract Signed with the DM Is About 3 Years, and the Right to Deferral Is Highly Limited” (read 12413 times, an indicator that is three times higher than the next highest number of views).3
In fact, the Nation – Army concept was declared as a formula for improving the management in the military, ensuring closer connections between the public and the army, regulating the attitude to and relations with the army at war and at peace, regardless of the already vivid manifestations of this connection and attitude (definitely positive towards Armenian soldiers, serving in the army and standing at the border posts, and versatile towards officers or military of higher ranks) due to different circumstances and events, namely: mandatory two-year service (as a result of which the population had/has sons, nephews, friends’ and acquaintances’ sons conscripted to and serving in the army), an attempt to mobilize volunteers in the conditions of varied tension and duration of tense situations on the Karabakh line of contact, and practices of assisting the army in different ways.
The media discourse on Nation-Army rolled out following the track of the discussions/debates and speeches in the National Assembly, frequently, on the occasions of domestic and civil processes related to them. The Armenian authorities and the Ministry of Defense had initially spoken about the need for public discussions on the innovation and not adopting them by a “quick march”. And we are convinced that the ideological/propaganda reason behind it was the demand for it by the central provision of the Nation-Army concept – that of the unity of the army and the public. However, the unequivocal, and in some cases, critical attitude mainly came from the fact that the foci of these innovations (particularly, the programs “It’s Me” and “I’m Honored”) had more to do with not internal reforms within the army, but the pre-army (draft and right to referral, social packages after the army, etc.) and post-army stages. In other words, the declared innovations did not justify the expectations of a part of the society; they did not address the more vividly expressed and acute issues raised as a public demand after the April war – “eliminate corruption and legal arbitrariness to enhance security”, “there is money for the army, look for it more diligently, and make an efficient use of state resources.”
However, most of the substantiations in favor of the concept were formulated in accordance with the publicly raised issues. For example, “Every wasted cent is a factor that influences our capacity to buy arms and armaments. Every abuse undermines the security of the famailies of every single one of us” (RA Minister of Defense V. Sargsyan).
3 We recorded this indicator, as well as the indicators for views, likes and shares of the materials as of the next day of publication.