Armenia Economy Politics Society

Reactions to Levon Ter-Petrossian's Speech

“If the first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrossian takes part in the pre-election campaign for the upcoming 2008 presidential elections, he will become yet another opposition figure, with all the consequences flowing from it”, Robert Kocharian told Regnum News Agency today. The incumbent president has reminded his predecessor, that the state budget of Armenia was $300 millions along with a budget deficit of $40 million, when he took over, and today the government are planning a budget of $2.5 billions.
It took president Kocharian 4 days to spell out these words, branded by Uzogh as the “bringing in heavy artillery” against the former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, and serves as an important indicator, just how much importance the incumbent authorities are attaching to ex-presidents return.
Having noted the fast and balanced coverage of first president’s speech on Yerkir-Media (the video is available here), I have to state, that I’m utterly disgusted by the coverage on Public TV. This piece broadcast on Public TV (and made available on YouTube thanks to Uzogh) is sheer disgrace for all journalism professionals in modern day Armenia, and I can’t understand – why the money, which I’m paying as taxes to this country, is being used in such a hideous way, and who on earth has allowed a journalist with such poor understanding of the meaning and role of journalism to work on Public TV?
Responses follow also from various political parties: Republicans seem to take it easy, while ARF-Dashnaktsutiun, the party banned by Levon Ter-Petrosian, are being highly critical, as analyzed by the 2008 Presidential Election Monitor blog:

With speculation that the former first president, Levon Ter Petrosian, might enter the fray for next year’s election, his bitter foes, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation — Dashnaktsutiun (ARF-D) have responded to Friday’s speech given on the occasion of the 16th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. As has been mentioned on this blog before, although Ter Petrosian’s criticism of the current system might strike a note with much of the population, critics argue that today’s problems first materialized during his tenure as president. RFE/RL has more.

Reacting to the speech, Vahan Hovannisian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader and deputy parliament speaker, said Ter-Petrosian has no moral right to make such accusations because his eight-year rule was also marked by fraudulent elections, human rights abuses and other serious shortcomings.
“He spoke as if the population has already forgotten Levon Ter-Petrosian’s days in power — political repressions, the severe economic crisis that must not be linked with the war [with Azerbaijan,] and the terrible atmosphere that led to a massive emigration,” Hovannisian told RFE/RL.

Onnik Krikoryan also takes a look at the responses on Armenian newspapers, as well as the post by Nazarian, with very interesting comments on the video I’ve posted above:

In this piece they accuse LTP of allowing corruption become even worse, political assassinations, economic misdeeds, etc. Obviously, they did not forget to sing the old tired song about the cold and dark years either. It’s a powerful piece indeed; Goebbels would be proud of it.
But when you try to analyze the situation a little, you realize that this piece tells a lot more about the misdeeds of the current regime than LTP. Corruption now is much worse than during the LTP years as the amount of bribes has grown together with the number of areas where you need to grease palms to get business done.
The biggest political assassination occurred on Serzh Sargsian’s watch when the PM and Speaker of Parliament, together with ministers and MP-s, were murdered. Add to that a number of officials killed such as the Prosecutor General a few years ago and people who were officials during the HHSh rule (Artsrun Margarian,
The polarization of the economy in the hands of a few people again occurred during the Kocharian/Sargsian years.
I am still undecided about the condition of democracy during LTP vs. the current administration. LTP banned the Dashnak Party in 1994. The Kocharian regime allowed it back into business but has been suppressing any dissent with carrots like government posts or sticks such as jailing and/or beating the crap out of the oppositionists.

Of other responses to Ter-Petrossian’s return I find especially noteworthy the posts by Unzipped and Narjan. The latter posted on September 21st a thoughtful piece, in which he speculates, that the former president’s comeback is staged by the current authorities and is directed against ARF-Dashnaktsutyun.
I can say, that I also held the opinion, that LTP’s return is being encouraged by the incumbent authorities, but at the moment I’m really undecided as to what I should think. Guess we will just have to wait and see.
As to Unzipped, I am amazed at how similar to my own views is his description of current political situation:

I noticed general tendency that people try to create an impression that there is no other choice in Armenia, they are the only ones. I do not buy it. Unfortunately, it seems that so far there is no real, ‘working’ candidate for opposition. And I do not want to make a choice between the lesser of evils, it is not a choice, it’s like a lottery, and I do not trust lottery. I want to have real choice. And by choice I do not mean that “anyone else will be better”. I need real alternative. If you do not provide me with a CHOICE, I’d rather stick with the current status quo, however critical I may be towards them.