Armenian Police prevented the attempt of a group of 20-30 young opposition supporters to hold a protest-action in front of Armenia’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) “to mark one year of the elections faked on February 19, 2008.” today.
At 14:30 about 30 young oppositionists came up to CEC building, bearing posters and three-colored flags and chanting, “Serzhik, go away!”
The demonstrators had hardly moved for 10 meters when the representatives of law enforcement bodies rushed to tear the posters and leaflets. They tried to arrest some of the demonstrators but failed due to the interference of opposition politicians – Vladimir Karapetyan, Aram Manukyan and Zaruhi Postanjyan (MP).
The opposition is planning to conduct a big rally and a march on March 1, to commemorate the 10 victims of the events of March 1, 2008. Yerevan Municipality has not authorised the rally and the march, although the opposition claims the Municipality has responded to their notification about the event after more than 72 hours defined by RA Law on “Meetings, Raalies, Protests and Demonstrations”, which would technically mean that the rally is authorised.
Georges Colombier (France, EPP/CD) and John Prescott (United Kingdom, SOC), co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Armenia, will be in Yerevan on 15 January 2009, for a follow-up visit in connection with the implementation of PACE Resolutions 1609 (2008) and 1620 (2008) on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia.
The co-rapporteurs expect to meet the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the leader of the Armenian delegation to PACE, the Chair of the parliamentary committee set up in the wake of the events on 1 and 2 March 2008 and the committee of experts responsible for establishing the facts regarding these events, as well as the General Prosecutor. Their report is due to be debated during the Assembly plenary session, on 29 January.
Following the report made by the co-rapporteurs to the meeting of Monitoring Committee of the PACE on December 17 in Paris, the Committee had expressed concern with limited progress on the provisions of resolutions 1609 and 1620 and voted for a proposal to deprive the Armenian delegation to the PACE from its voting rights to be considered in the Assembly plenary session in January.
Since no visible progress can be seen thus far, following the weeks after December 17, I wonder how will the Armenian officials persuade the co-rapporteurs to amend their report in favor of Armenia.
As a sign of desparate attempts by Armenian officials to avert the PACE decision to curb Armenian voting rights, the head of Armenian Parliament Hovik Abrahamyan has recently sent a letter to the PACE member countries’ heads of parliament, asking their support in voting against the possible resolution against Armenia.
“Did my small part today”, American citizen Nazarian writes, having voted for Obama,”The polls opened at 7 am. There were people who had been in line since around 6 am. Some of the poll workers said that people came over at 5 am. I was there at quarter past seven and the whole thing took less than an hour with half an hour of wait outside”, the blogger describes his voting experience.
Unzipped is inspired: “They proved that impossible is possible in America. They proved that ‘American dream’ exists”,he says, meanwhile, warning of possible disillusionment,”Expectations are so high of him that chances to get disappointed are very high too. Beginning of new era, or so I hope.”
Political scientist Artashes Boyajian believes in Obama campaign motto – “Change we can believe in!”, he says, “The world needs a positive and respectful attitude from America, for a change”, Artashes goes on to explain. “Let this be a victory of intelligence over arrogance, of responsibility over recklessness, of decency over shameful fear-mongering!!!”.
Pigh is original, as always -”Friends, why is it that you’re taking Obama’s election with such joy”, writes the blogger, known for his Republican political outlook and coincidentally, bearing the name Pigh, which stands for elephant in Armenian,”What, do we all care for the rebirth of powerful America?”
“IMHO”,the blogger goes on to say, “the brave-little-soldier Mccain and silly Palin would quickly bring the “global stronghold of democracy” to its logical end. Our Armenians, instead, are so joyful! So joyful! All our office looks like at Easter holidays.” And don’t hope that Obama will deliver his campaign pledge and recognize the Armenian Genocide, Pigh warns at the end, thus explaining his reservations on Obama victory.
Throughout the US election campaign and especially more so in the recent weeks, there were speculations in the Armenian blogosphere, that Obama is only the result of skillful PR. Uzogh, however, disagrees. “One thing I can see from Obama’s stance is – morality. He tries to show (and personally, I am convinced in it), that he cares about all the values, which are important for all the people, regardless of their being black, white or whatever. You can call all this – dirty PR and hold me for a naive romantic. Well, I guess we’ll have to live and see for ourselves”.
“It comes as no surprise that Armenian-Americans who supported Obama–most likely the vast majority of them although there’s probably no way to say for sure–are ecstatic about his being elected as president. He has made several promises to the Armenian-American community, most notably to recognize the Armenian Genocide. In a press release issued by his campaign Obama for America it clearly states his dedication to recognition”, Christian Garbis has written, reflecting on the overall excitement with Obama’s election among Armenians. “Even if he does not live up to this promise, it would not be his fault. He would not be the only president to refrain from doing so–in recent memory both President Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said similar things as campaign pledges. The US State Department policy has always been one favoring Turkey’s interests, and Armenian Genocide recognition has never been one of them”. At any rate, Christian concludes, “Obama will nevertheless embrace and instill change internally in the US and also around the world. I can’t wait to see him visit Armenia one day”
Download the Armenian language podcast of this post, also featuring an interview with LiveJournal blogger Aovin, from here or listen to it online, by clicking the player icon below.
Basically, while the great, educated egotist Ter-Petrossian was analyzing the situation in Armenia in nicely formulated sentences and trying to establish grounds for dialogue with current president of Armenia – Serzh Sargsyan, by laying most of the blame on Kocharyan, the Second president of Armenia chose to respond in the manner typical for his semi-educated egotistic self, calling the First president names, like “dumb” (տկարամիտ) and “deeply indecent” (խորապես անպարկեշտ), and saying, that it was the opposition who needed the blood and deaths on March 1st. [text here was edited, as the original post contained obviously biased points of views] Now, while I clearly recall at least one case, when Levon Ter-Petrossian spoke on the rallies, saying, that they will go till the end, that doesn’t mean, that human casualties can be blamed on the opposition. Moreover, in the situation, when the country disparately needs peace and reconciliation, and when the opposition has just attempted the first vague steps towards dialogue, Kocharyan’s words are rather unwelcome.
In the magic land of Armenia, the legal order was proving its efficiency. Trials of law-breakers were proceeding so fast no one could keep track of them.
Not even judges. They could hardly keep order in their courtrooms but they were intent on keeping order in the country.
This time the magic had become more magical than ever. Not a single law enforcement officer had broken the law. On the contrary, order had been disrupted by citizens who did not agree with the authorities; and that was breaking the law. Continue reading →
Here are some extracts from the interview with political analyst Richard Giragosian published on Zhamanak.com:
(Zhamanak) Mr. Giragosian, how would you evaluate the February 19th Presidential elections in Armenia, the post election developments, particularly the tragic events of March 1?
(Giragosian) In my opinion, it was not the election itself that was the most important development for Armenia. It was not the process of the election vote that was significant, but rather the process of the election campaign that was more revealing because the unlevel playing field and the closed political system were much more serious problems than the one-day problems with voter fraud and other irregularities.
And for me, as someone who has moved from the Diaspora to Armenia, the real test for Armenia is not about personalities, but is about policies. And this is not about Levon Ter-Petrosian. It is not about Serzh Sarkisian. It is about what kind of country Armenia is set to become and what kind of Armenia its people want for their children and grandchildren. And policies are more important than people to building a new and better Armenia.
Five out of seventeen ministerial posts have already been appointed, only two of which are new faces: Foreign minister Eduard Nalbandian, former ambassador to France, and Defense minister Seyran Ohanian, the former head of armed forces. Three ministers retained the positions they held in the outgoing government. Gevorg Danielian (Republican Party) will stay on as justice minister, while Armen Grigorian (Prosperous Armenia) will continue as minister of sport and youth affairs and David Lokian (Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun) as agriculture minister. Interestingly, as this ArmeniaNow analyses points out, despite the landslide victory achieved by the Republicans in 2007 parliamentary elections, the government formed after the elections was a coalition one.
When the non-partisan head of Central Bank Tigran Sargsyan was appointed Premier, after Serzh Sargsyan’s 53% victory, disputed as it may be, it seemed for a moment, that leaning on heavy Republican majority in Parliament and control over the executive branch, Serzh Sargsyan might attempt to form a merit based, professional government. Still, the developments are indicating the opposite. So far the weight of coalition is prevailing, and it seems more coalition appointments are to be expected.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I find it strange, that four political forces, with distincltly different political agendas are working in a coalition government. Moreover, with Republicans being strong enough to rule on their own, it is clear, that their political line will be dictating everything, so it looks, as though Bargavach Hayastan, ARF-Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir party won’t be able to push any of their appraches through, and have joined the government only to retain some administrative levers and ensure better life for some of their top party officials.
Meanwhile, the new government faces the challanges of strengthening its legitimacy in Armenia and restoring country’s image in the international community. “The Monitoring Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on April 17 urging the Armenian authorities to implement a number of reforms aimed at improving the situation in the country. PACE suggests launching an independent inquiry into the clashes, releasing all prisoners who did not commit crimes, amending the law on public rallies, and engaging in a dialogue with the opposition. PACE warns that, unless those conditions are met, it will consider suspending the voting rights of Armenia during its next session, which takes place in June.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)
The expected sharp rise of prices following the rise of natural gas price doesn’t help much with raising the government’s profile. Instead, it gives the opposition more facts to build their struggle – which has been generally a destructive one so far. Seems like the internal situation will remain tense over the next month or two, possibly with the influence of opposition gradually declining, although – if the government keeps the policies observed over the past week – price-rises, which should have been avoided at all costs in this tentative and tense political period, we might just as well see the opposite.
No changes are expected in the foreign policy sphere either. “In his first major foreign-policy speech on April 16, Armenia’s president was uncompromising. “Azerbaijan must understand the simple reality that the existence of the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is irreversible,”Sarkisian said. “The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have won their right to a free and independent life. And through our efforts, that right must be recognized by the international community.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)
For all the optimists out there – gather as much of it as you can, ‘couse looks like you will badly need it.
Passage on vehicles as well as on foot are restricted in the center of Yerevan. The Opera theatre and virtually all length of Mashtots avenue are blocked within a semi-triangle: police are prohibiting pedastrians and vehicles from entering the restricted are from Pushkin, Abovyan, Moskovyan, Tumanyan and Parpetsi streets.
According to the official note sent out by the Yerevan municipality yesterday, the area will be blocked from 10:30 to 16:00 today, while the presidential inauguration ceremony takes place in the Opera house.
Serzh Sargsyan’s inauguration ceremony will take place on April 9, at a special NA session.
Tomorrow there will be special conditions at Serzh Sargsyan’s inauguration ceremony at the special session of NA, to be held at the Opera building.
NA deputies have received special invitations to take part in that session, sent by the NA chairman Tigran Torosyan.
“RA NA chairman Tigran Torosyan invites you to participate in the special session of NA. The deputies are asked to be present 45 minutes prior to the beginning of the session,” is mentioned in the invitation.
Also, there is a special note in the envelopes of Tigran Torosyan’s invitations, stating, “Please switch off your cell phones and don’t use your cameras during the session.”
It is also mentioned in the note that the deputies must present an ID to participate in the special session of NA.
The NA deputies have also been warned to notify the NA management in case of not attending the special session.
The special session of National Assembly to be convened on the pretext of Serzh Sargsyan’s inauguration will start on April 9, at 14:00 and will last for 45 minutes.
E-channel has posted an analyses of March 1 events. There are a couple of key points in the analyses, which I want to draw your attention to:
Actually, in the silent, uncompromising psychological struggle conducted between the authorities and fundamental opposition on February 20-29, the nerves of the authorities were the first to give out, on which the whole strategy of the opposition had been built.
The authorities did not notice  the appeal of Ter-Petrossian towards the international public, according to which he was giving a ten-day period to Western democracies in order to define the future of Armenia.  Therefore, he had already defined a ten-day period for the movement led by him, which could be hardly interpreted as anything but a confession of actual failure.
Actually, no facts or irrefutable proofs have been presented to date, confirming the statement or justification of the authorities that on March 1 the opposition was going to start wide-scope actions of protest, full of provocations. To date, the only justification has been the statement of law enforcement bodies, claiming that the disorders near the embassy of France after the noon were those very provocations, planned in advance. If it was really like that, it turns out that the measures of cleaning the Freedom Square were completely useless. Moreover, it was a most serious tactical blunder because with that the law enforcement bodies have instilled the opposition with new charges and pretexts, contributing further to heating up the atmosphere.
Actually, if the blunder of the authorities were related to the measures taken at the Freedom square, the serious mistake of the opposition was not predicting the consequences of the spontaneous (according to them) gathering near the embassy to France. Taking into account the fact that a part of the members of Yerkrapah Volunteers union and almost the whole Trial of Spirit organization were with them, in case of demonstrating sufficient organizational skills, it would, perhaps, be possible and necessary to suppress or isolate the active participants of disorders, with the help of the above-mentioned resources. It did not happen, and it allowed the authorities to develop and, with the help of the further preliminary investigation, to support the approach that the disorders had been organized by one center. And it became a basis for presenting it as a coup d’Etat – that is, a danger immediately threatening the constitutional order.
The author of the analyses also suggests a very valid topic for discussion: