First two appointments to key posts: Foreign Ministery and Ministery of Defense

President Serzh Sargsyan is forming a new government following the April 9 inauguration ceremony held behind the police wall, that separated him from the citizens of the country, which he will try to rule, following disputed elections on February 19th, which resulted in violent clashes between opposition supporters and security forces. Following the appointment of Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, President Sargsyan held consultations with representatives of the 4 party coalition, and today two key ministerial appointments were announced.

The current ambassador to France Eduard Nalbandian, a career diplomat who also served as the country’s ambassador to Israel, Andorra and the Vatican, will replace Vardan Oskanian on the post of foreign minister, AFP reports.

President Sargsyan has also appointed the chief of Armenia’s armed forces, Seiran Oganian, as the country’s new defence minister, according to presidential website news bulletin.

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54 thoughts on “First two appointments to key posts: Foreign Ministery and Ministery of Defense

  1. Strong, professional, positive appointments.

    Hopefully, this will give the Sargsyan administration a chance to succeed and realize the pledges made to the Armenian nation. Now is also the time for a constructive opposition to grow, one that keeps pushing policy recommendations and acts to bring the level of discourse around issues.

  2. many things in Armenia these days are managed by beurocrats – in the middle and lower level, and no amout of qualified ministerial appointments will change anything, unless there is an understanding, that those beurocratic rats, who have been working in the same agencies since communist rule, and survived HHSh, HHK and keep hanging on…

  3. Observer, I agree wholeheartedly. However, changing the top for the worse will definietly not improve things. And some good changes at the top can/will have strong ripple effect down the line.

    Nevertheless, I agree that there is no “magic wand” quick fix to entrenched problems. I simply remain guardedly optimistic when I see positive steps forward.

  4. Observer, do we have enough qualified rats to change this set of bureaucratic rats with another set of bureaucratic rats? Or you want to get rid of bureaucracy at all. Maybe the new generation of bureaucrats aren’t rats at all. Is this what you were implying?

  5. Unfortunately, you can’t change lower to middle rank bureaucrats because to do so would make the civil service prone to more corruption, nepotism and political appointments. It will take some time before the rot disappears, but unfortunately, the other alternative is potentially more damaging. What needs to happen is to look to the long-term and creating institutions away from political meddling. Nobody said it was going to be easy, and all the HHSh, HHK rats etc will stay until there is the legal reason for them to be kicked out or they move on by their own accord. However, it is imperative that there is a civil service made up by people regardless of their political orientation and not prone to being replaced every time the political wind changes. Of course, they should be directed from the top and obviously, corruption needs to be weeded out at all levels.

  6. I strongly agree with Observer and Anonymous. Neither of these appointments is progressive as such. They might be “strong and positive” for the ruling few, because they were made first and foremost to strengthen the regime and not the people, the independent statehood or its associated infrastructures. For one obvious reason: both nominees represent either the rotten old guard or a notorious clan. Nalbandian is not a career diplomat (serving under the diplomatic cover does not necessarily mean that a person is a actually diplomat), he is a career intelligence officer from Soviet times onwards. Ohanian is another karabakhci whom the critical majority of local Armenians came to despise, the one who was instrumental in bringing guerilla troops from Karabakh on March 1 to disperse and eventually kill peaceful demonstrators.

    And lastly, unfounded positivist propaganda for everything that this anti-popular, unelected, inherently corrupt government does, seen on this page thanks to the efforts of a couple of posters, does nothing but harm to the feelings of our impoverished and broke nation who have suffered for so long in the hands of their inconsiderate, repressive rulers. Respect theses feelings, please.

  7. Thank you AKhach for putting the situation in clear and precise perspective. I for one was getting a bit bored with those who speak with “forked tongue”.

  8. AKhach – I think that the assessment of the quality of the appointments is relative. I would be curious who you would argue for. Also, your interpretation of the events of March 1 is dubious. I do not believe that the ‘critical majority’ of Armenians despises Kharabakhtsis, though great efforts have been made by LTP to exploit this topic, creating a flashpoint of hatred, scapegoating, and excuse-making for everything wrong in society by lazy people for lazy people who are not willing to work to improve our collective problems.

    Personally I think it is shameful to refer to your brethren as guerilla. This is rhetoric used to undermine Armenia’s national spirit, and to divide and conquer, encouraging our people to turn their backs on our country’s future. The radical opposition can consider it a victory that they have built up false hope in the delusional only to watch it crash down into perceived hopelessness. That the authorities have mismanaged and abused power is sad, and what is sadder still, is nothing new.

    And a ten day call-to-arms laced with racist hate-speech culminating in a real call for a coup on March 1 in no way can be categorized as peaceful demonstrating. Please do not re-write the history.

  9. I just have to agree with Mher and avoid giving “those” a credit by entering into polemics with them. They still have a long life to live, a plethora of life situations to face and attempt to evaluate from broader perspective, many scholarly books to read and social theories to examine in order to be ready for a shift from a belief that their own personality is the best in everything and their own constricted judgments represent unobjectionable truth. I am afraid, however, that the handicaps of such individuals are handicaps that neither education nor experience can overcome.

  10. First of all there has never been an independent verification of this claim;

    […] Ohanian is another karabakhci whom the critical majority of local Armenians came to despise, the one who was instrumental in bringing guerilla troops from Karabakh on March 1 to disperse and eventually kill peaceful demonstrators.[…]

    So please refrain from using it against anyone. Unless we have an independent analysis of what happened this statement of yours has no content other than singling out one’s ethnicity. By the way, such comments make me feel that we have lost the Karabach war. Our only hope for retaining it is if we base our argument on the fact that they are Armenians, but if we believe that they are different species then Azeri case is much stronger as they strongly and rather blindly believe that it is their fatherland.

    Secondly, 17 years isn’t enough for producing politicians that don’t have non-Soviet like thinking. The majority of our university professors, our school teachers, even our taxi drivers are from soviet era. So criticizing one based on the fact that he or she is coming from the soviet times is a rather pointless criticism. That is what we have today and we have no other option but that, so please get over it.

    True, as Observer noticed, nothing will change unless we change the mid to low level bureaucrats. But we cannot do that today, so we should instead try to cultivate (word used by AH) such bureaucrats.

  11. Unobjectionable truth? I merely disagreed with your points. Thanks for the invitation to read the few books you have, anyway.

  12. To AH: No, you don’t merely disagree with your opponents’ viewpoints: you’re trying to IMPOSE your views that largely contradict (not totally, but largely) the realities on the ground. Many ordinary people do despise their rulers. Many ordinary people are not happy with their lives. Many ordinary people do not feel secure in their own homeland. Many ordinary people are impoverished and do not feel themselves as citizens of their own country. And they rightfully blame the government, let alone for the fact that it was not even elected by them.

    Your comments are detached from reality and create an impression that you advocate to blindly accept, conform to, and justify whatever this government does. Whatever it does, it does for itself.

    And, BTW, I’d be glad if university professors and school teachers from Soviet times be elected in our parliament or appointed in the government, but not kgb-shnkis from Soviet times like nalbandian, OK?

  13. Naira – I find your word choice strange…when am I imposing? Many people here on this blog are very opinionated. I happen to agree with the several of your points in the 1st paragraph. I am happy that you would be glad if university professors were appointed instead of kgb-shniks…let me add that I hope that your intended professors were also not shniks themselves!!

    I think your impression in the 2nd paragraph is wrong. Nowhere would I state or did I state that I advocate blind support of the authorities. Finding mistakes in radical opposition tactics or (lack of) strategy does not mean, for example, that I condone govt action or approach. This has happened on several ocassions, for instance, as I believe that LTP’s return to politics led to a step back (not forward) for democratic evolution in Armenia. This statement is not an endorsement of the authorities or their approach, though it is a harsh criticism (my opinion) of the LTP-led radical opposition.

  14. Whether shniks or non-shniks, whether L.T.P., R.O.B., or S.E.R.J., I want my government to be elected, representative, responsive to popular needs, and accountable to the people, and not self-serving their hunger for power, sick career ambitions, and pockets. PERIOD. This is what most of the people want and don’t get throughout their independent times. That’s why overly optimistic, detached, romantisized opinions look imposing, while on the background we see misery, wide-spread corruption, and authoritarianism. This has nothing to do with who was or is on the top: it’s about the deeply-rooted negative tendency that people are suffering from for 17 years. And there ARE open-minded people in our nation, but the tragedy is that whoever raises his head on the political horizon, the rulers whom you describe as “strong, professional, positive”, will chop it off, because the level of their maturity and the boundaries of their mentality can only prompt them to put self-interest above state interest.

  15. Naira,

    The point isn’t that we should be optimistic about our government. The point is that where does the negative criticism of our government lead to? Suppose we take all of them and burn, then what? This then what part is what I haven’t been able to understand in anyones comment who try to speak overtly against the government. If we got no alternative than this then we should try to make do with what we got until we have the alternative.

    It is clear that Levon’s pack is no different than Serj’s pack, so I for one cannot support him. I rather make do with what I got then make a change and start my fight from zero. Armenians have been fighting these guys for a long time now, and we should continue that fight, instead of trying to change the names of our, the people’s, opponent. Some said that change will scare the new ones, because they might think the same would happen to them. I would tend to agree with this if our alternative wasn’t Levon. He has a record which shows that exactly the opposite will happen.

  16. Then at least avoid making dithyrambs and panegyrics to this government, its nominations, and workings. If you think negative criticism leads to nowhere, groundless optimism is no better, and leads to making a deal with your conscious which, as you know, is the part of the human mind that is aware of the feelings, thoughts, and surroundings.

  17. OK Naira I better understand your point and agree with the principles. I have a few aspects with which I disagree: 1st I think there is a difference between the LTP supporters today and the new PM, for example. I am not comparing devils and angels, but I believe that TS has developed human capital at the Central Bank. I don’t think he would lead a campaign to undermine the state and its institutions. So in this sense, even if it is cautious or guarded optimism on my part, this is not the same as known evil.

    Also, as far as the people wanting free and fair elections, show me a group in Armenia who are rallying behind a leader with a positive vision, whose program is not predicated on hate or racist divisiveness, and who is not a discredited thief, and I will support them. In the meanwhile, there is less damage done promoting the better elements of those in power, while at the same time endeavoring to cultivate an opposition that is interested in something more virtuous than winning a king of the hill game, and that is a generous depiction of the evil-intent witnessed the last few months.

  18. I am not sure if I understand what you mean. How can one not be optimistic that his or her approach will be successful? If we don’t preach optimism that peaceful non-destructive, though in many cases negative, criticism will succeed then the only other option is what Levon camp has been doing, preaching optimism that destructive measures will lead to better Armenia. Please, do explain your point.

  19. I read somewhere that Vazgen Manukyan said that although he is opposition, he cannot possibly want the government to fail — because that would mean failure of Armenia. So although he is opposition, he will now do whatever he can as opposition to help the government succeed in its proposed objectives for the good of the nation. This viewpoint relates directly to what AH said above — I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  20. If I may add, hats off to Vazgen Manukyan: although he may never get vindication for having the 96 election stolen from him by LTP, he is demonstrating to the Armenian world what the concept of a constructive opposition is: opposed to the current government, for the strengthening of the state, its institutions, and the democratic process.

  21. TS already has a proven record of undermining the state and its institutions. Who pioneered artificial depreciation of USD under the guise of “strengthening the Dram”? Has this been beneficial to a large segment of the populace who heavily depend on remittances from abroad because their own government provides compensation, pensions, etc. commensurate to peanuts, while pouring money for luxurious villas, cars, restaurants, and casino gambling? Has this bolstered the state and improved people’s lives? I don’t think so. Nor does any unbiased, adept economist, I’m sure. TS would lead a campaign within the strict limits, or limitations, rather, and impositions of his masters. This is as clear as the daylight. How can a reformist or a moderate ruler, if we admit him as such, do anything beyond or anything different from his masters’ general line? Where exactly is the room for optimism here?

    To assert that one would support a group in Armenia who are rallying behind a leader with positive vision, if he is shown one, is somewhat cynical, I’m sorry to say. It reminds me of a chicken-and-egg story. Where would a leader with positive vision emerge from if opposition of any sort is ruthlessly incapacitated? Of course, there is a need to cultivate a vigorous opposition, but is there a recipe of how to do this artificially? I think things should have been left on the natural balance of a nation’s successes and failures. People should have been given more confidence and people’s choice to decide whom they wanted to support should have been respected. I tend to believe that if it were for people’s true choice (Manoukian in 1996, K. Demirchian in 1998, S. Demirchian in 2003), we might have seen a different leader and a different opposition in 2008. In other words, things would have progressed naturally as of now. With their own shortcomings, of course, but naturally.

    About optimism. I meant groundless optimism, and not optimism per se. I tend not to speculate on hypothetical notions such as this, but believe that feeding disillusioned people with a “better future” fairy tale is as much destructive as radical negativism. People are tired of such groundless optimism and their wide-spread apathy is the best manifestation to this. And here again, who are we to preach them, even if this is considered peaceful, non-destructive preaching? Have more confidence in people and their own judgments. People did not demand destructive measures when gathered on the streets in March. Nor have they followed LTP’s propaganda by initiating street fights or other forms of violence. They responded violently only after the government troops started provocations, brutal use of force, and killings en masse.

  22. Naira,

    LTP has never advocated street fights or any violence whatsoever. Non-violence is one of the founding principles of his movement. Even his detractors admit this. Where did you get that idea?

  23. I think I understand your point but I don’t understand why you think it is against me or others. I don’t think anyone was optimistic that TS will lead the country towards the right direction. I for one only wanted to give him the benefit of doubt. If he makes a mistake, then hey lets criticize him, but calling him names seemed unfair. His track record is open for interpretations. I would refrain making my judgment on how good he will or won’t be based on his track record.

    […]To assert that one would support a group in Armenia who are rallying behind a leader with positive vision, if he is shown one, is somewhat cynical, I’m sorry to say. It reminds me of a chicken-and-egg story. Where would a leader with positive vision emerge from if opposition of any sort is ruthlessly incapacitated? […]

    I agree with this and it has been suggested in many other posts (few of which were by me).

    I don’t think there is much evidence to conclude that Demirchyan won in 1998. I remember that a lot of people voted for Kocharyan, but I cannot say that he was actually elected either. In 2003 I have no idea. But I wouldn’t agree with your conclusion had you not included that magical “might”. I don’t see any reason why we would see a different leader had the elections were normal. I don’t trust Demirchyans anymore than Kocharyans so I don’t see why you show “optimism” in here. The nation elected Levon, and not much came out of it. What I mean is that there is no evidence that the majorities choice would be any different than what we got at the end (there isn’t even a good reliable evidence that this is indeed not the majorities choice). Don’t get me wrong, usually there is a difference here, but in our case two sides were just mirror images of each other, and the reason people wanted the other side was because they hate this side. They would reverse the places and then start hating what used to be the opposition. If people succeeded in reversing the sides then we would see two-three years of complete halt on the development of the country because the new guys would be occupied with taking their revenge and filling up their pockets with the lost money. This is the whole drama. One side is really no different than the other, and I for one rather continue fighting this guys than the others. I am at least used to the ways of this pack.

    I think you misunderstood a lot of comments above or maybe I did. Again, I don’t think we are optimistic that this PM would be great. The feeling was, by the way set by Observer, that we should at least wait until he starts working before we judge him. I might have argued that he is a good choice but not because I believe he is great man and etc. I just don’t see who is better, and therefore I rather wait.

    I also think you read words to directly. In my post “preaching” only stands for expressing opinion not the actual process of preaching. Though what Levon was doing looked more like preaching in the actual sense, but even here I didn’t mean this sense.

    I will also have to ask you not to create the image as if the police attacked first and not that I think people attacked first. I would love to agree with this statement but a quick glance of various analysis would show that we really don’t know what happened. And by the way is it even relevant who attacked first?

  24. Someone has brought forward a supposition to take the whole gang and burn them, and asked “then what?”. Well, I can see a growing number of elitist (I mean non-commoners) people who start adhering to this “cansiter of gasoline for rulers” notion. As for “then what?”, then every consecutive regime will know from the history of the Armenian people that there’s been such an episode and will at least rule with caution and fear for possible repeated reatliation.

  25. Armen, I haven’t said that LTP has advocated for streets fights or any violence. Unfortunately, postings on the Internet cannot deliver the accuracy of face-to-face communication. I said that people haven’t responded to LTP’s anti-government propaganda by resorting to violence. On the contrary, they responded violently only after the government troops started to forcibly disperse peaceful camps on the Liberty square.

  26. Khachatour,

    I only wish you are right. But our history is an evidence that it won’t happen. 1996 should of been a lesson for all other post 1996 governments but none has learn that lesson. In general, very often in the history after revolutions the victorious party is even more merciless than the ruling one. Take the communists example. At any rate, people forget who did what very easily (just like in the case of Levon) and most politicians, when they have so much support from the people (like 1992 with Levon) think of themselves as a king, and think that they are above the law. Another wonderful example of this is Bush with his second victory. However, I still tend to agree that punishing one might scare off the others, but in this instance, as our only other choice is Levon, I just know it won’t happen.

  27. I don’t claim to be right or wrong, I just said that I see growing number of people who, under desperate circumstances such as ours, could support the “canister of gasoline” idea. For better or for worse, I don’t know. I’m an evolutionist not revolutionist. I also don’t think that 1996 events can serve as distant evidence in relation to my post: I was referring to physical retaliation that I can feel in the mood of people especially after March 1 killings, and not failed revolt attempts of the past. And references to historical evidence (and not “history is an evidence”, it sounds odd to my ears) should be made carefully, avoiding generalizations. History is a relativist discipline, subject to different, often times mutually exclusive narratives and interpretations. Referrals to “our history” of independence of just 17 years old are very local in nature. By the same measure if evaluated from a broader perspective, it can be said that the French Revolution, which by all accounts was a bloodbath, has ultimately produced a civil society and responsible rulers. I think it is political culture, that is based on historical experience and the level of education of a nation, that gives a tone to the overall political process. This has nothing to do with Levon or Serzh. The tragedy is that we are still at an embryonic stage of nation-state development and maturity.
    As for Bush with his second victory, in America electoral fraud happens, too, but the foundations of the state and norms of protection of civil liberties are so strong, that the fraud essentially does not affect ordinary people’s lives. Any comparison with the Armenian reality is extraneous.

  28. Eduard Nalbandian is reportedly a Russian citizen. His father is a retired officer of GRU (Soviet/Russian Military Intelligence), and he himself is an officer of the same agency. I just don’t understand how such an appointment can possibly be considered “strong, professional, and positive” for Armenia’s independent statehood?

  29. Khachatur,

    I feel that there is a misunderstanding between us. My post was a re to your last line.

    […] As for “then what?”, then every consecutive regime will know from the history of the Armenian people that there’s been such an episode and will at least rule with caution and fear for possible repeated reatliation. […]

    Hence the comment about 1996.

    Bush supposed to be an example of a president who had a sounding victory and interpreted it as he can do whatever he pleases in Iraq. This was just to support the claim that when presidents get strong victories sometimes go astray from there on. I didn’t compare Bush to Armenia. And I didn’t mean to imply that electoral fraud happens in the US. I have no proof of it and no major violations have been reported in this particular case.

    True, you can think of French Rev as something that ultimately led to a better society, but can we afford a revolution. The road of revolutions one after another isn’t the only solution, there are societies that transformed into democracies without revolutions. One has to calculate the costs of revolutions. The country is effectively in a war, and spontaneous revolutions will only create opportunities for the other side. Then there is the rebuilding process, and etc. There is a more humanitarian road that I would prefer. That is the road of Ghandy (which unfortunately ended in bloodbath as well) and MLK. A genuine non-partisan movement. (Again, I don’t mean to imply that you do support revolutions)

    Maybe you are right that using history as evidence isn’t a very good idea in general, but when you have a reappearance of a figure from your own history in the political arena then how can we not look back and see what those times taught us about this figure?

    At any rate, I don’t support the notion of “canister of gasoline” (not that I am saying you do) . I think there are better roads to take.

  30. To Z: Here’s an excerpt from an article that I’ve found on RFE/RL by certain Richard Giragosian (his last name suggests that he may be a Diaspora Armenian) stating the same. Very disappointing. . .

    — The political benefits from these first appointments have been somewhat dissipated by the president’s more questionable third appointment, however. Although the dismissal of long-serving Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian was widely expected, his replacement by Ambassador to France Eduard Nalbandian was rather surprising. Regarded as a “professional diplomat,” Nalbandian gained prominence more from his ties to the Russian political elite and his personal connections with Russia (he is rumored to hold Russian citizenship) than from any significant diplomatic experience or achievements. The significance of replacing the diasporan Armenian Oskanian with the more Russian-centric Nalbandian seems to be rooted in Sarkisian’s need to reassure Armenia’s patrons in Moscow, after Russian concerns over the recent political crisis and perhaps to balance efforts Sarkisian has made over the past 18 months to improve his image in the West. —

  31. While I’m not saying that Giragosian’s analysis is incorrect — to be honest, I haven’t had time to read it thoroughly — I do believe that its readers should have been made aware of the fact at the bottom of anything he writes from now on that his wife was involved in organizing some of Levon’s protests in Liberty Square and in particular the tent encampments. Actually, this is a conflict of interests that should be declared.

  32. Hi observers, it was interesting to read various comments on our newly appointed government. Actually I do believe that fortunately or not the current government is a temporary solution to ease the tension in our society. The biography of the former head of CBA seems to be the flag that ruling party is rising as an evidence of changes. I guess it will be not bad idea for those who are responsible for the recent appointments to accompany all TV comments with the “Wind of changes”. May be it will help more.

    Obviously Tigran Sargsyan is the least devil from the circle of current President. But the question is if we can accept anyone from that team. I think the major objective for everyone affiliated with the ruling echelon is to clearly convey a message to the rest of society that we need to wait. We need to give a chance. Ok let’s give a chance, ok let’s wait. But why? Can we ask in our turn: Please give the common people a chance to have fair elections and please give a chance to form a free society. The answer is obvious: NO.
    The most unfortunate part of our destiny is that we can do nothing. Revolution is not acceptable, evolution is not possible. Or not. Please recommend. Which country is the best? to immigrate.

    One more observation.
    It is highly publicized that Tigran Sargsyan is a technocrat who led our economy during economic turmoils and put our financial sector on solid ground, but is it the case? By accepting the role of PM didn’t he prove that he was from the ruling party team? If I am not mistaken the head of CBA should be independent from any political teams as by making small adjustment in fragile economic mechanism one can achieve some short-run results at the expense of long run stability.
    If we take out from the equation called economy the remittances what would we have? NOTHING

  33. Grigor, I’m not saying that, and indeed, any analyst should still remain objective and neutral whatever their political opinions or links. However, I do believe that such potential conflict of interests should be identified. Indeed, I’d argue that being open about them lends more credibility. For sure, I don’t think many would disagree with the need to investigate Nalbandian’s leanings and past and as I don’t know anything about him, I can’t say if this is on or off the mark. The logic in the excerpt Nara posts is valid and so it could be correct. However, I’d personally like to read it from someone not connected to the opposition and groups such as Sksela (or, indeed, the government, for that matter). Actually, I’d like to read the French, American and Russian reaction from outside if a geopolitical shift is occurring. For example, how can we assess his time as Ambassador to France and as a co-chair in the OSCE Minsk Group, is the appointment of someone who would presumably be privy to much of the negotiations with Azerbaijan logical and appropriate? To be honest, I don’t know, but I’d like to have some kind of analysis on that aspect of his appointment.

  34. SlavaTrudu – I think you identified one of the sad outcomes of the radical opposition’s plan: To create a false sense of hope and unrealistic pie-in-the-sky unfounded visions, and when these are not met…oh the shock and horror…the only sensible thing…leave the country.

    I wholeheartedly reject such approaches. Elections were doomed from the moment LTP hijacked the opposition. There needs to be an opposition that is committed to playing watchdog on principles in Armenia, to encourage independent media to call the authorities on their shortcomings.

    As far as the reality on the ground in Armenia…What has changed? Elections were the best in 17 years (not saying much, but that is the assessment of the international observers). The economy has been growing (because of, despite) the governmental actions of the last 10 years.

    I think this is the most optimistic time in 17 years…time to immigrate to, not emigrate from. Time to address some of the issues you identified and get to work, not get caught up in someone else’s false dreams and then cry hopeless when their ugly coup doesn’t work.

  35. AH: I think i’ve asked this question before, but never got an answer. What do you mean by “LTP hijacked the opposition”?
    Can you be more specific. I’ve listen this point several times, but never understand what does it mean.

  36. OK I’ll try and explain. There are many segments in Armenian society who are frustrated with the actions, stances, or policies of the authorities. Instead of these segments coalescing or appealing to the people for consideration of change, LTP re-emerged on the scene with a low-level, quick fix campaign of hate. Easy, too-good-to-be-true nostalgic “liberal” and most importantly heavily financed and supported by the west.

    If you are not with me you are not only against me but a traitor, a sell-out, and evil. This was the message to the ARF, to OE, to Vazgen Manukyan, to all the opposition or potential opposition groups in society. Look at the shameless propping up and support of LTP as the prime opposition candidate months before he gained any traction in society by “independent” groups like RFE/RL. The impeachment group got some negligible support only months earlier. So other than a well-financed attractor of the protest vote, what did LTP stand for? A we won’t back down goading the authorities until blood was spilled? LTP got what he wanted: A torpedoing of the process, a removal from the stage of alternative groups who had different visions for Armenia, ie a hijacking of the opposition. If instead, ANY of the other groups would have brought the disgruntled together, I am confident that the frustration and discontent would not be whipped up into hatred and divisive destruction.

    Had LTP not pushed, we would not have had March 1.

    This is not a defense of the authorities, and it does not acquit them of some of the blame for all of the events noted above. However, now some delusional youth in Yerevan feel turned off to the process, have less motivation to get involved and make a difference, because instead of backing someone who would reinforce hope, they instead chose hate. Now we have a unnecessarily polarized society.

    The opposition (and the nation as a whole) needs desperately to cultivate new leaders. Falling back on the failed architect of the poor system we endure in Armenia is no way forward.

    I hope this helps explain my meaning of hijacked.

  37. Re: elections, not my measures. I am comparing international assessments of our elections from the last 17 years, and the presidential elections of 2008 were assessed to be relatively speaking best.

  38. […] I’d argue that being open about them lends more credibility […]

    I definitely agree with this.

    On Nara’s post. I didn’t read the full analysis either, but just analyzing that one paragraph, I don’t understand the need for including expressions such as ““professional diplomat,”” or the suggestion that “Nalbandian gained prominence more from his ties to the Russian political elite and his personal connections with Russia than from any significant diplomatic experience or achievements”. Even if this statement is true, I still regard it as a bad journalism as it creates some sort of bad feeling towards Nalbandian, and I don’t think it is the media’s job to create such feelings (maybe I am wrong, in which case please do correct me). I would prefer a paragraph that emphasized Nalbandian’s Russian connections without putting words in our mouths that Nalbandian is basically Russians’ puppet. Such things always happen. People make career in politics because of their connections, just being dam good isn’t enough and sometimes isn’t even required. Therefore, for me it is natural that Nalbandian made a career because of his connections. But he did make a career which is an important fact that is rather ignored by that line. That line really sticks out, while his main substantial point is voiced rather mildly in his last sentence. The core of the message in Giragosian’s paragraph is the last line, and that by itself is a very interesting observation. But his build up to it is not constructive at all, as he basically doesn’t let us make our own impressions of Nalbandian but rather forces us to read, what I consider to be, a lousy line on Nalbandian’s past.

    I agree that media doesn’t need to stay neutral , but I would also like to see media not creating tensions and bad feelings towards this or that politician. This is what I was trying to say.

  39. I’d first and foremost like to bow my head today before the innocent victims of the genocide. May God give comfort to their souls. . .

    As for my post, I was just referring to someone’s earlier one that foreign minister’s appointment was “strong, professional, and positive.” I guess by means of a media excerpt, the credibility of which, I agree, can be dubious, I just tried to enquire whether the appointment of such an individual can at all be categorized as such.

    Not all people make career in politics because of their connections. What a superficial generalization! There has always been a critical minority of dedicated, hard-working, “damn good” generalists with qualities, indeed, sometimes even not required, who, nevertheless, often times make difference while generally unnoticed and unappreciated. Many such people have left this government because of the dominance of nepotism-driven, overly ambitious bureaucrats with Herostrat complex. To appreciate those who built a career with the help of their next-of-kins or influential political elites while diminishing the role of unselfish generalists is to exhibit admiration for rank not personal qualities, and to support the ruling bureaucrats who tend to dismiss as inconvenient all those who are genuinely concerned for their country.

    Had the foreign minister made his “professional diplomatic” career because of his connections, I’d somehow understand it. What I wanted to know was if the appointment of someone with a background in Soviet military intelligence, a Russian citizen, and a non-diplomat (other than working under the diplomatic guise) can be characterized as “strong, professional, and positive” for the national security and independence of Armenia.

  40. Nara, I am only thankful for the piece, we weren’t analyzing your actions but the piece.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that all people make career in politics because of connections, but many do. I was just analyzing Giragosian’s piece not that I was claiming Nalbandian is a good choice or bad. I don’t know that, and I don’t know him either. Please, don’t get agitated at nothing.

    […] To appreciate those who built a career with the help of their next-of-kins or influential political elites while diminishing the role of unselfish generalists is to exhibit admiration for rank not personal qualities, and to support the ruling bureaucrats who tend to dismiss as inconvenient all those who are genuinely concerned for their country. […]

    This is a strong statement, and I just wish you read my comment in a different way. I wasn’t appreciating Nalbandian, I was just analyzing Giragosian’s piece.

    Actually, this brings us back to the discussion we were having few days ago. Guys if we don’t understand each other we can quite easily ask for explanations. No need to make strong statement like the one above. Please, do ask questions. That way we will have a more productive time here. Strong dead-end statements lead us nowhere. See I apologized for sounding too general in my post. So had you asked me what I meant by

    […] People make career in politics because of their connections, just being dam good isn’t enough and sometimes isn’t even required. […]

    I would gladly apologize for sounding too general and you wouldn’t need to get angry and make such statements.

  41. AH-I would not use clichés like sad outcome or anything else.
    My point is that the current rulers and those who are affiliated with them endeavor to segregate those who has concerns and cliché them as a dotage of LTP team.
    The current tactic is ignoble and unacceptable. The efforts to damper any voices from the opposition and to present March 1 as a nuisance is a squalid script which unfortunately many are following.
    I don’t agree that the demolition of democratic institutions is an achievement, that harsh statements of the President are an exhortation for peace, that the cessation of human rights are free elections.
    I don’t believe that cosmetic changes in the government can have any effect.
    Why to go out of Armenia, because by having rulers who daunt its people and reiterate that this is the only democratic way of living is an injection of harmful virus to the most vulnerable part of our society. Small members of our world will be grown up under this pressure and will only accept and implement a dictatorship. We are going to have a lost generation.
    By the way if the LTP was financed from the west why they supported the current rulers and did not bit them when they were in a trap and prone after March 1. They could, but they didn’t. Because nobody cares about tiny Armenia. Because there is no difference for them who is ruling here as we make no sense for anyone in this region. We have a complex of small nation that our every gesture in scrupulously analyzed by the west. Definitely no. We need to put a plaque with an inscription that our future is only in OUR hands. Nobody from west, east, south or north would care about us. Our billions are a daily expense for them. We have no political and especially economic reason to be treated with respect, especially after recent elections. Even in Zimbabwe the elections were free. Read the FT and other media, it’s amazing and sad at the same time.
    The first step I think need to be acceptance of reality. Which is quite doom and gloom now.
    Politicians are like diapers, we need to change them frequently and for the same reason. We are wearing current one for very long.
    Please nobody take it personally I only wanted to share my ideas with you.
    When the young generation is too politically active it means that smth going wrong and when the best representatives of it are killed it means that we are in deep…. It is amazing that nobody took responsibility from the current rulers.
    The idea of splitting and ruling is very actual for our reality. They split the broader picture and try to route people into details.

  42. AH- […]There are many segments in Armenian society who are frustrated with the actions, stances, or policies of the authorities. Instead of these segments coalescing or appealing to the people for consideration of change, LTP re-emerged on the scene with a low-level, quick fix campaign of hate. Easy, too-good-to-be-true nostalgic “liberal” and most importantly heavily financed and supported by the west.[…]

    That segments were existing in 2003 as well, and why opposition was unable to put them into move? Regarding the hate campaign: as we can see from posts here, max LTP did was naming OEK traitors, and it was sometime around Feb.19. Before that nothing was done.
    Opposingly, most of pro-gov forces used this “LTP spread hate” propaganda as a communication platform. As we know from advertising, more you repeat something, more powerful it become.If we do a keyword analysis chek on this blog, the word “hate” is mostly used by LTP’s opponents. Which is kind of a strange to me.Why do you think they were supported by west? And if so, why do you think it is worse than Russian support to SS (I am sure you know his “famous” sentence in Kremlin), which gives nothing to country, except taking everything away?

  43. AH-[…]Look at the shameless propping up and support of LTP as the prime opposition candidate months before he gained any traction in society by “independent” groups like RFE/RL. The impeachment group got some negligible support only months earlier.[…]
    I can understand why LTP was “nominated” as an opposition leader. Since his first public speach in September, he was under very heavy negative PR from H1, H2, etc., which of cource did a great job for LTP. “I dont care what are they talking, just let them talk”-D.Ogilvy.
    I can even remember people talking that LTP have a deal with SS and RK to take votes from opposition, cause even politically neutral people was able to see that this negative PR works only positive for LTP.
    From the other side, ARFD, OE, Vazgen Manukian was already candidates. What they got – nothing. As we can see only ARFD have a stabile electorate of 7%. So we hardly can say that LTP “removed from the stage an alternative groups who had different visions for Armenia”. They are still exist. And they got what that probably will get anyway. And here is another point i’d like to mention.
    Many years we are facing “opposition” vs. “pro-gov” candidate elections. I think here is a main problem. Instead of having just candidates with equal rights, we’re having “pro-gov” candidate with almost every support (beurocracy, media, etc.) and “opposition” with almost nothing. This time was same too.

  44. […]Had LTP not pushed, we would not have had March 1.[…]
    The previous candidates didnt push right? What we got: more centralized power, even more powerfull oligarchic structures, monopolies.
    If you wouldn’t try to stop the robber you wouldn’t risk to be killed – same logic.

    […]Now we have a unnecessarily polarized society.[…]
    I think the polarization of the society is a result of longly monopolized process of political opinion formation. It is just feels unusual. Nothing else. Same feeling was after Soviet crash. Who was going to polling station that time? One paty, one candidate.
    One lesson to learn is to be able to listen others opinion. You may disagree with it, but puting people in prison because of their opinion, creates Soviet like system, where people were sitting in their homes, silently hating the system, and waiting to crash it. System like that cant persist long. Another example from branding. No brand can exist being no.1 on the market without no.2, who does everything to become no.1. Equal-rights competition create progress.

    […]The opposition (and the nation as a whole) needs desperately to cultivate new leaders. Falling back on the failed architect of the poor system we endure in Armenia is no way forward.[…]
    100% agree with you.But i do believe that new leaders can emerge only in competitive society.

  45. Slava – I agree with many of your points, and I’ll keep my response short. I think that the absence of full democracy in Armenia has much to do with the history and culture/mentality, and little to do with this administration (which is the product of both of the above). If the paramount question for the Armenian nation is to live in a democracy today, then I suggest everyone leave and move to Scandinavia; instead I think/hope many will choose to work to build a democracy in Armenia.

    I simply do not see the radical opposition as making an effort toward this goal. They have other goals, and that is their business. I find their activity to be going exactly counter to democratic evolution in Armenia because it is ruining a noble goal with ulterior motives of power-struggle, oliharch replacement, and a step backward to when Armenia was even less democratic.

    As far as your diaper analogy, I wouldn’t put a 10 year old soiled diaper back on my baby, would you?

  46. To AH:
    […]There are many segments in Armenian society who are frustrated with the actions, stances, or policies of the authorities. Instead of these segments coalescing or appealing to the people for consideration of change, LTP re-emerged on the scene with a low-level, quick fix campaign of hate. Easy, too-good-to-be-true nostalgic “liberal” and most importantly heavily financed and supported by the west.[…]

    That segments were existing in 2003 as well, and why opposition was unable to put them into move? Regarding the hate campaign: as we can see from posts here, max LTP did was naming OEK traitors, and it was sometime around Feb.19. Before that nothing was done.
    Opposingly, most of pro-gov forces used this “LTP spread hate” propaganda as a communication platform. As we know from advertising, more you repeat something, more powerful it become.If we do a keyword analysis chek on this blog, the word “hate” is mostly used by LTP’s opponents. Which is kind of a strange to me.Why do you think they were supported by west? And if so, why do you think it is worse than Russian support to SS (I am sure you know his “famous” sentence in Kremlin), which gives nothing to country, except taking everything away?

  47. OK – I don’t know about government supporters, or others who use the hate term, but I can tell you why I do.

    Only during Levon’s campaign was the term “national traitor” used…and for what? For not supporting Levon. That’s it!

    Only by Levon was racist invective brandished (accompanied by dancing euphoria) with the Mongol-Tatar references or the “Half-Armenian Half-Karabakhtsi” nastiness.

    On April 24, the ONLY political force focused on something other than mourning the victims of the Genocide are Levon’s supporters who attempted to cheapen the day with more vindictive divisiveness. Even in the Diaspora, even during the worst of times in divided communities, April 24 infighting (in public at least) was off-limits. People have recognized and respected certain issues.

    Why is this supported by certain forces in the West? Because they want a weak Armenia. And Levon was a perfect vehicle to undermine the state.

  48. I have to agree with AH on this last point. Armenia as a whole and ethnic Armenians individually are generally confronted with attempts to make them weaker, not only by the West, though, but also by Russia, the EU, and the surrounding nations. Add those supra-national, supra-governmental secret societies, so called “internationalist power elites” who tend to direct major world events, manipulate elections, etc., and the picture will be complete. I don’t intend to make comparisons with other nations, but Armenians do have a unique PC processor in their brains, they’re known to be smart, shrewd, entrepreneurial, talented, hard-working, with unparalleled survivor ability.

    For those who doubt, there IS an interest in Armenia. It is naïve to presume that a single element in this world order and in the stratification of power on global scale, however small and insignificant it may seem, can be left unnoticed and unutilized. Every tiny building block, that the world pallet of nations consists of, is given due attention and is being played upon by the “string-pullers” who stand behind many of world events. Unfortunately, they pursue their own interests, and those interests are in direct confrontation with Armenia’s national interests. Knowing the potential of Armenians, they do everything they can to destabilize the internal situation in order to keep the balance of equally unstable regional states, hinder the efforts of any regional nation to attain monopoly (economic, political, etc.) over a neighbor, wipe out any nationalist or national-patriotic trends or doctrines that could emerge, etc.

    These are just a few reasons why we have what we have in our country. An unelected regime largely plays into the hands of these global powers because being illegitimate means being more prone to be subservient to their political control. And an incapable, unproductive opposition that helps these powers advance the millennia-old tactics of divide-and-rule. Unfortunately, even when Armenians have a chance to rely on themselves, advance their own agenda, and build foundations of a strong state and civil society, here I mean Vazgen Sarkissian-Karen Demirchian alliance, you know what happens.

    Every effort must be made to consolidate the nation, make effective use of Armenians’ intellectual and entrepreneurial potential. This needs to be done wisely and inexplicitly. WISELY and INEXPLICITLY. This of course requires time that will gradually bring about a generation change, mentality change, and a political culture development. I only wish that this time be used with profit, not to the detriment, to the nation.

  49. […] Armenians do have a unique PC processor in their brains, they’re known to be smart, shrewd, entrepreneurial, talented, hard-working, with unparalleled survivor ability.[…]

    I loved this line. Indeed, isn’t our history just a history of survival?

    I have to however, disagree with AH’s last point. I think the west just doesn’t care rather than they want to see a weak Armenia. Look, suppose for a minute west stands for America. Look what they did. They did the color revolution in Georgia, Azerbaiajan and Turkey are pretty much their friends and they effectively turned Iran into a radical country. Armenia is a tinny spot in the middle of all these countries. Why would they care what happens in it? If they end up with all four on their side or at least three (AZ, G, Turkey) on their side and one isolated radical country, then they would effectively get Armenia as well. I suppose this is why they are concentrated on G, Az, and Turkey.
    It is crucial for us not to make a mistake at this time in history. I would say being close to Russia is better than being close to the West because if Russians prevail in the fight for the region then we would be their close ally (hopefully), if Russia loses then the situation wouldn’t really change much for us, as the West just doesn’t care now, and it will continue not caring then as well. If the west prevails, they would try to force some sort of peace agreement that will effectively end Karabch conflict (almost certainly badly for us) and I suppose Az. will become the dominant economy of the region because of the oil. This might not be bad for us at all, but while the two big shots are basically fighting their fight it feels to me that we are safer on the Russian side.

    If we take west to stand for Europe then I get the feeling that the Europeans don’t have any idea what they are doing. I am actually getting a little be agitated that they have take the position that they have to teach morality to other nations. As a result, they have turned many small countries into little weapons against others. Like when France passed the resolution on Armenian Genocide. Yeah, nice for us, but they did it to send a strong message to Turkey. Honestly, the guys in Strasbourg are getting to my nerves. The way they handled our own elections was a disgrace, making a positive statement and then changing it into something negative, I mean common. All these are just indications they they don’t care much either, but maybe I am wrong. At any rate, I think that among the external forces that might have serious impact on the future of our country the most influential one is Russia vs USA conflict.

    Europe is really strange. For instance, it would probably be better for us if we held elections every 10 years instead of every 5. This way the country wouldn’t have “March 1st” as often as we get them (and AH, even if this election were the best in 17 years, “March 1st” of this one was the best one also) , the country would be in some kind of politically stable state, and there would be a lot of room to work on civil liberties and human rights, which is really what is missing from our society. But try to make such a change in constitution, then the very next minute some guys in Strasbourg will start teaching us a lesson in democracy, as if when America was facing great depression they didn’t let FDR stay for 4 terms. Of course, Serj is no FDR (not even close), but the point is that if we think that if our president stays longer it would be better for us then Strasbourg would start giving us democracy lessons.

    The reason that Levon got supported by the west (if indeed), I think, is that he asked for such a support (not the other way around).

  50. Khachatur,

    can you explain what you meant by

    […] Unfortunately, even when Armenians have a chance to rely on themselves, advance their own agenda, and build foundations of a strong state and civil society, here I mean Vazgen Sarkissian-Karen Demirchian alliance, you know what happens. […]

    I never thought of that alliance as strong. In fact, I felt that Demirchian’s appearance in the political arena was Kocharian’s idea. It was his way of defeating Manoukyan, who was a very strong candidate in 1998 (only two years ago he basically won the elections). Demirchian effectively put Manoukyan out of the race. In fact, Demirchyan put his candidacy forward after 1-2 hours of meeting with Kocharyan, who actually organized the meeting. The mentioned alliance was formed for the parliamentary elections (correct me if I am wrong) and that was because Sargsyan started feeling that he is losing his position to Kocharian and Serj, and Demirchian was a popular figure basically a pleasant face that he could show off here and there. At any rate, V Sargsyan was on his way to presidency and Demirchian was something like a puppet at first in the hands of Kocharian and then in the hands of Sargsyan. If you see V. Sargsyan as a good president, then can you please explain why? Growing up in Armenia, I only heard the most disgusting things about him, basically his behavior was nothing less than of a wild animal. Does anyone remember the “bulbulator” joke about him:) ? Or the mougli joke? At any rate, the gossips among the people don’t always correspond to reality.

  51. I generally tend to see the forest not just the trees when evaluating events and surroundings. One can argue relentlessly about given episodes in politics, such as the emergence of an individual politician, tactical alliance, a move, or a swing. This said, we need to accept that we just don’t have sufficient reliable information in order to evaluate things.

    I’m not aware whether the emergence of Karen Demirchian was Kocharian’s ploy, but I can admit that that could well be one of the versions. As for Vazgen Sargsyan, he indeed was known as a wild animal and his hands were in blood up to shoulders, but it is believed that during his prime-ministership he eventually came to an in-depth understanding of the situation in and around Armenia, what powers were at play, and was said to feel more altruistic towards the people, more accountable towards their plight, and towards making Armenia the strongest in the region.

    Now, whether or not Demirchian’s appearance was Kocharian’s idea, the duo (Sargsyan-Demirchian) at some point came to represent an alliance overshadowing Kocharian’s Karabakhi provincialism. I can also see that the duo came to represent an unwanted strength for the world string-pullers, or at least the potential for strength that ultimately could push Armenia ahead of its South Caucasus neighbors politically and militarily.

    I tend to think that this, among other reasons, was the reason for what had happened back in 1999.

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