The Armenian people and the dialogue between authorities and opposition

While calls for dialogue between president Serzh Sargsyan and the opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian come from all sides – government, opposition and the international community alike, all those speaking about “dialogue”, starting from Raffi Hovhannisyan and ending with the PACE and US Helsinki Commission seem to take it for granted, that such a dialogue will put everything right. Nobody seems to ask what this dialogue will be about, anyway? Nobody seems to ask, who do these two people – Serzh Sargsyan and Levon Ter-Petrossian, represent, to engage in a dialogue and put things right in this country?

If these two – widely dispised and disregarded politicians are to meet and discuss how to share power between the two of them, and between their clans, what value does this “dialogue” bring to the citizens of Armenia? While Ter-Petrossian supporters stage protest actions and marches in the country, raising the stakes for their leader – some genuinely beleiving, that it is democracy and freedom they are fighting for, most citizens of Armenia seem to have preferred to hide under shells of indifference and watch for someone to do something good for them. The bad news for those who are indifferent is that – politics is about standing up and taking control of one’s destiny. And so it seems, that we will all continue watching the fight between the two power hungry elites, until they reach a compromise – mutually beneficial for both of them, or until one of them wins and gains full and unrestricted freedom to exploit and drive this poor country further into ruin.

Richard Giragosian on post-election situation in Armenia

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.

Continue reading “Richard Giragosian on post-election situation in Armenia”

Amid widespread public scepticism government undertakes some positive steps

Public attitude remained generally skeptical towards the efforts of President Sargsyan and PM Sargsyan to restore public trust by undertaking some positive steps over the past couple of weeks.

One of the first such steps was the dismissal of Armen Avetisyan, the chairman of the the Armenian Customs Service (ACS) for the last 8 years and the followed by a meeting of President Serzh Sargsyan with the ACS officials. On this highly publicized event President spoke about his determination to uproot corruption in the country especially in services like the Customs and Tax Inspection. While sincerity of his words is dubious, this genuine attempt by President Sargsyan to raise the government’s profile largely failed, because of rumors last week, that the import tariffs for manufactured goods have sharply risen, which was followed by a demonstration in front of the government building on Republic square. Coupled with sharp rise of natural gas prices announced two weeks ago, and then the recent reports that the gas prices will climb even higher by 2011 left no further room for optimism for middle class to poor families across the country.
Another blow to the authority of the government, internationally as well as at home, came as the resolution passed by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on April 17 called for the Armenian authorities to file an “independent, transparent and credible inquiry” into the March 1 deadly clashes in Yerevan between security forces and opposition supporters and “the urgent release of the persons detained on seemingly artificial and politically motivated charges.” It also said that the recently enacted legal amendments which effectively banned opposition rallies should be repealed “with immediate effect.” The Strasbourg-based assembly threatened to suspend the voting rights of its Armenian members if these measures are not taken before its next session due in June. In an attempt to turn the unfavorable international resolution into a tool to reach compromise at home, President Serzh Sarkisian established an ad hoc group, headed by President’s new chief of staff Hovik Abrahamyan, which is to look for solutions and present suggestions to overcome the political crises in the country. The effectiveness of this step is yet to be seen, however, it is clear, that a Presidential decree quickly releasing all, but the most serious offenders and mauradeours of March 1, would have been the most effective means to regaining public trust and appreciation of international community, rather then superficial half-measures like creation of committees head by highly discredited politicians like Hovik Abrahamyan.
On a related note, Armen Harutyunyan, the Ombudsman of Armenia – also released his report, echoing the international calls for an independent investigation and challenging the official accounts of March 1 riots, stating, in particular, that the Armenian police have so far failed to produce any evidence of firearms being used by the protesters against the police.
With no signs of the ongoing political crises in the country ceding anytime soon, all the other positive steps undertaken by the government are lost on public. Among such positive steps were undoubtedly PM Sargsyan’s announcements on Friday, that Government will start holding outgoing regular sessions in various regions of Armenia from now on, and that to enable more transparency of government actions the journalists will be allowed to follow government sessions live from the government’s Press Center and that more interest will be paid to media publications from now on, starting with the case of Syunik Governor (Marzpet) Suren Khachatryan published by Aravot Daily. Hopefully this, and more positive steps undertaken by the new government, mediocre and lacking political capital as it is, will soon render some kind of positive results and raise public confidence, otherwise we will be on a sure way to a final and total devastation, which is not something that any Armenian wants.

Photos by Tsitsernak and Azatutyun.am

Imaginary (but not improbable) interview with high government official in Yerevan

Via Tzitzernak | By the Intrepid Reporter
Q. How do you think events are progressing in Armenia after the recent election?
A. Oh, I think we’re doing really well. The outcome of the election is what it should have been; it came out just as we planned it.
Q. There are some who are still not convinced this was the best outcome.
A. Well, these are people who are still under a magic spell and can’t understand what’s good for them.
Q. Do you think that includes being imprisoned without charges?
A. Oh, sure! It’s the government’s duty to place them in custody for their own mental safety. They need to understand that disturbing the natural order of things is bad for them and for the country. Continue reading “Imaginary (but not improbable) interview with high government official in Yerevan”

Armenian Blog Roundup: April 24…

“This day, 93 years ago, by detaining (and later shooting) the top Armenian intellectuals and politicians in Istanbul, the Ottoman government started the massive effort to uproot its entire Armenian population ordering it to march from the historic Armenian lands into the Syrian desert. The result was the mass killings, rapes, death by starvation, and exodus of survivors. The Armenian Genocide was accomplished. Practically no Armenians live now on the lands populated by their ancestors for at least two millennia…

April 24, Yerevan © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008
I don’t forget. And I don’t forgive the perpetrators and executioners of this crime against my people.…” – this is how Artashes has expressed the feelings of many Armenian bloggers. Others have applied to the Armenian poets, publishing extracts from Shiraz and Tumanyan.
Athanatoi blog has carried out a massive amount of research and collected in one chronological list from 1915-2008, all the formulations adopted by various countries, effectively recognizing the Armenian Genocide. It becomes clear from this list, that France, United Kingdom and Russian Empire have issued a declaration already on May 24th, 1915 about the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, and that the US Senate has adopted a condemning resolution on February 9, 1916.

March with lanterns, April 23, Yerevan © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008
A wide review of Armenian Genocide related publications in international and Turkish media as well as Armenian blogs on April 24th is posted by Blogian, also detailing the populous marches held in Holywood and Yerevan.
The two different marches to Tsitsernakaberd: one by the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun youth with lanterns and the other by opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian’s supporters, without lanterns, were covered by
Onnik Krikorian on his renamed blog – The Caucaus Knot: Continue reading “Armenian Blog Roundup: April 24…”

The Armenian Genocide Museum and Institute declares April 20-27 "Remembrance Week"

The Museum is also requesting for your help in collecting originals or copies of:

  • family photos of Western Armenians
  • memoir manuscripts of the survivors
  • sacred and inmost family items
  • Please address to the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex, Armenian Genocide Museum and Institute, Yerevan, 0028, tel.: 39-09-81, 39-14-12,

    E-mail: [email protected]

    The week of April 24 has been declared “Days of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide” also in California, by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to the proclamation issued on April 16, 2008.

    Changes in the structure of government, Armen Gevorgyan and Hovik Abrahamyan change places

    President Serzh Sargsyan has signed a number of decrees, changing the structure of Armenian government and making some key appointments. Hence, Armen Gevorgyan, president Robert Kocharyan’s chief of staff has been appointed as deputy prime minister and minister of territorial governance; Nerses Yeritsyan has been appointed as minister of economy; Tigran Davtyan has been appointed as minister of finances, Gurgen Sargsyan will serve as minister of transport and communication and Mher Shahgeldyan, from Orinats Yerkir party – as minister of emergency situations.
    According to Serzh Sargsyan’s decree, former deputy Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan has been appointed as the head of the presidential staff.

    Echannel reports, that the following changes have been made to the structure of the RA government:

    1. The ministry of trade and economic development of Armenia has been renamed into ministry of economy of Armenia;
    2. The ministry of finances and economy of Armenia has been renamed into ministry of finances of Armenia;
    3. A ministry of emergency situations has been launched. It has been defined that the service of rescue is a governmental body functioning within the framework of the ministry of emergency situations;
    4. The agency of relations with Diaspora at the ministry of foreign affairs of Armenia has been reformed into a governmental committee of relations with Diaspora at the ministry of foreign affairs of Armenia, as a governmental body within the framework of the ministry.

    Armenia doing real good in sport!

    Via ArmeniaNow.com

    By Suren Musayelyan
    ArmeniaNow reporter
    Published: 18 April, 2008

    Tae Kwan do
    An Armenian fighter for the first time achieved a European title as Arman Yeremyan became the continent’s champion in the 78-kilogram section in the European Tae Kwan do Championships in Rome, Italy, Panorama.am reports. On the way to the gold medal Yeremyan beat fighters from Moldova, Ireland, Belarus, Norway and Spain.

    Weightlifting

    Armenian female weightlifter Meline Duluzyan (63 kg) repeated her success of a year ago by winning the gold at the European championships in Italy. The 19-year-old athlete lifted 235 kilograms in combination, including 107 in snatch and 128 in clean and jerk, to beat representatives of Turkey and Bulgaria who finished second and third, respectively.
    Meline’s teammate Nazik Avdalyan (69 kg) also won the gold showing 242 kg in combined (106 kg plus 136 kg). She outdid athletes from Russia and Bulgaria that finished second and third, respectively.
    Hripsime Khurshudyan (75 kg) managed only a “little gold medal” in clean and jerk.
    Armenia’s weightlifter Tigran Martirosyan (69 kg) won the European title among men showing the result of 346 kg in total (158 in snatch plus 188 in clean and jerk), leaving behind sportsmen from France and Bulgaria.
    Football
    The first leg of the semifinals in Armenia’s Cup Tournament were played this week. According to the Football Federation of Armenia (www.ffa.am), playing on home ground FC Pyunik (Yerevan) lost to FC Ararat (Yerevan) 1-2 and FC Banants (Yerevan) beat FC Mika (Ashtarak) 3-1. The second-leg semifinals are scheduled for April 23.
    Meanwhile, having shown good results in several friendly games, Armenia have moved five positions up to settle on the 78th spot on the FIFA world rankings for April. This is the highest world rating for Armenia since it joined FIFA in 1992. The more than 200-nation list is topped by Argentina, followed by Brazil and Italy. Full rankings are available on FIFA’s official website (www.fifa.com)
    Chess
    Armenian GM Levon Aronyan will participate in the M-Tel Masters Tournament to be held from May 7 (official opening) to May 18, 2008, in Sofia, Bulgaria.
    Aronyan’s opponents will be GMs Topalov (Bulgaria), Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Radjabov (Azerbaijan), Cheparinov (Bulgaria), Bu Xiangzhi (China).
    More than a dozen Armenian chess players will participate in the 9th European Individual Championships (men’s and women’s tournaments) held from April 20 (opening ceremony) to May 3, 2008, in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
    Among men to play in Plovdiv are GMs Vladimir Hakobyan, Gabriel Sargsyan, Karen Asryan, Tigran L. Petrosyan, Artashes Minasyan, Tigran Kotanjyan, Ashot Anastasyan, FIDE Master Samvel Ter-Sahakyan and Dmitri Harutyunyan.
    Among women are WGMs Elina Danielyan, Lilit Mkrtchyan, Nelli Aghinyan, WIMs Lilit Galoyan, Siranush Andreasyan, and Anna Hayrapetyan.
    Armenian GMs Sergei Movsesian (Slovakia) and Sergey Grigoriants (Russia) will also participate in the event.
    Meanwhile, Armenian GM Vladimir Hakobyan became Russian Club Cup Champion 2008 with “Ural” team. The tournament was held in Dagomis (near Sochi).
    (Source: www.armchess.am)

    GENOCIDE DENIAL — U.S. POLICY STAMPED IN BLOOD

    This letter came to my mail address, with a request to post on my site, which I am doing without further comments:
    In April 2006, I encountered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in an Alexandria, VA restaurant. I approached Dr. Rice who was accompanied by First Lady Laura Bush and a secret service cadre. As I shook her hand, I broached the subject of genocide by commenting on my family’s support of action in Darfur. She replied, “I have been there.” Moving to the topic of the Armenian Genocide, I told her I was in Washington to urge my congressional delegation’s support of a reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide — a horrific event every American Armenian connects to. She simply stared back at me – and, without further comment, departed.
    This February, I was again in Washington to promote Genocide reaffirmation. I met with first-term Colorado Congressman, Doug Lamborn. Mr. Lamborn, a former Colorado State Representative, had cosponsored a state resolution supporting Genocide recognition. As CO District 5 Representative, he cosponsored H. Res.106 in February 2007. However, that October, he withdrew his name. I wanted to know why!
    During my meeting with Representative Lamborn, he told me he had rejected multiple State Department attempts to persuade him to withdraw from H. Res.106 because he understood the historical facts of the event. The turn came with an unsolicited call from General David Petraeus. He told Representative Lamborn that his support of the Armenian Genocide resolution threatened the safety of our troops in Iraq because of Turkey’s view of this sensitive political issue.
    When I heard Mr. Lamborn’s explanation, I was stunned. All I could think was how could this happen in America — a country once viewed around the world as a beacon of moral justice. That America had actively and officially assisted my great grandmother Haiganoosh sue the Ottoman Empire for its government directed murder of her husband. My great grandfather, Dr. Nahabed Abdalian, an American educated medical doctor, ordained minister, and naturalized American citizen was murdered by Turkish gendarmes in Gurin, Turkey. In 1897, the U.S. Consulate in Sivas completed its investigation of his murder and provided an official recounting to the U.S. State Department and my great grandmother. (UCLA Professor Richard Hovannisian obtained a microfiche copy of this handwritten document and Tufts Professor Lucy Der Manuelian assisted me in its transcription.)
    This present-day official Genocide denial policy (i.e. use every word but genocide) is our community’s legacy initiated by President George Herbert Walker Bush. The slippery slope was strengthened and reaffirmed by President William Jefferson Clinton who personally intervened to subvert passage of a House Genocide reaffirmation resolution. President George Walker Bush has grown genocide denial into an Administration-wide policy, aided by the sheepish compliance of our 110th Congress. As my own experience confirms, President Bush’s denial zeal has permeated into every pore of government — even reaching into the highest levels of our traditionally non-partisan military command. Another consequence of his proactive denial is the currently diminished Administration-proposed financial support package for the blockaded Republic of Armenia.
    While both parties have been complicit in denigrating the first Genocide of the 20th Century, a change of course could come with our 2008 Presidential election. Senators Clinton and Obama have pledged to reaffirm the Armenian Genocide (Senator McCain would presumably maintain the current policy of denial). I would urge every American-Armenian to reflect on our presidential history of Genocide denial as they cast their vote this November.
    And should our next President come to office with a pledged policy of Genocide reaffirmation, it is our community’s duty to our history to press for that commitment to be honored.
    Pamela Barsam Brown
    310 Overlook Drive
    Boulder, CO 80305
    303 499 9673

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