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.

Returning to your question, clearly, the post-election crisis in Armenia, after the wave of demonstrations and public protests over the February 19 presidential election, has led to three specific trends.

First, in my opinion, the post-election crisis in Armenia is far from over and, in fact, it is only continuing. The crisis is still there and there is no chance of going back to the pre-election status quo, no matter what some of the Armenian authorities may want or claim.

Second, a related development concerns the political, social and economic realities of the current situation in Armenia. Specifically, the post-election crisis only revealed and confirmed the growing level of discontent, frustration and anger over the mounting inequalities and disparities of wealth and income (and of power) in today’s Armenia. The election also puts new pressure on the new Armenian government, as the level of popular discontent has been awakened.

But the third development is somewhat different, and stems from the fact that the current stage of politics in Armenia is about change. Not only change by itself, however, but positive change—reform and progress. This is the challenge for the new, post-Kocharian Armenian leadership—to move forward toward a more open and fair political system based on consent not fear. But it remains to be seen if the Armenian government is capable of achieving this.

[]

(Zhamanak) How would you describe the role of opposition: its leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan and the movement he initiated, their future actions within the context of the political developments of Armenia?

(Giragosian) First, I strongly believe that Armenia is now at a significant turning point. The next few weeks and months will determine not only the nature of the next Armenian government, but will also define what kind of country Armenia will become. The time for public demonstrations may be over, but it is clear that now is the time for every Armenian citizen to become engaged in a healthy and lawful debate over politics and policies.

But most of all, there can be no return to a status quo of “disabled or deformed democracy,” but there must be a transformation of popular protest into political participation. Armenia’s “public citizens” must be allowed to become actors and no longer limited to being mere spectators in the Armenian political system.

Second, Armenia is now entering a new political era. The long-standing dominance of the country’s political elite is clearly fading. Ironically, even the two top rivals in the presidential election, Sarkisian and Ter-Petrosian, represent an elite that has risen to political power from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. But Armenia’s new political era will be defined by the rise of a new younger political elite, operating in the new arena of an empowered parliament.

And it is in the parliament that will rapidly emerge as the true center of gravity for Armenian politics. This shift in significance away from an overly centralized presidential powerbase has already been matched by a devolution of power to the parliament, a trend that has already seen the emergence of a new opposition. Thus, although the outward demonstrations of the current post-election crisis remains fixated on the presidency, the real looming battle will be within the parliament.

But the gravest threats to stability and security in Armenia remain the unresolved internal challenges of socio-economic inequality and corruption. Until these challenges are overcome, the real danger is that the country’s mounting social discontent may reach a point of no return, and erupt into real social unrest. And until the Armenian authorities recognize the severity of this threat, the result will be not only a lack of legitimacy but a profound deficit of democracy for years to come.

http://en.zhamanak.com/article/696/

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74 thoughts on “Richard Giragosian on post-election situation in Armenia

  1. Interesting to compare…

    Washington and Moscow Unanimous on RA Future Presidential Contender

    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The U.S.’s informal opinion is that Serge Sargsyan will be the next President of Armenia, military and political expert Richard Giragossian said in Yerevan. According to him, the incumbent Defense Minister suits both Washington and Moscow. “Only he can secure the stability of the state. This is the most important thing for us. Democracy in Armenia will develop step by step, without shocks and it’s convenient for all. The opposition is too weak to come to power and all the more to secure stability,” the American expert said.

  2. Another interesting Giragossian analysis.

    “The process of importing American democracy has exhausted itself. Today both the US and Russia want to maintain stability in Armenia and the CIS. That context would suggest the US should endorse Serge Sargsyan’s candidacy for Kocharyan’s succession, because Sargsyan will be able to continue the current political and economic path,” Giragosian says.

    […]

    Giragosian says neither society nor observers should expect significant change because the system is tightly closed and the opposition is: ““an elite, and would be simply like new bandits in power with just a different face.”

    […]

    […] For the time being perhaps Armenia needs someone like Putin – with some dictatorial way of rule and the ability to eradicate corruption and the constantly increasing criminalization in the country.”

    http://armenianow.com/?action=viewArticle&AID=1767

  3. hehe! excellent find Onnik! indeed, either the situation has changed a great deal, or the opinions of Richard Giragosian. I guess both, but the difference is striking! :)

  4. Ditord jan,who is this guy? Analyst? CIA spy? Whoever.Why we need to listen all of shit coming from abroad?Why everyone can warn us from abroad?
    Why I need to tolerate every international political prostitute with their stupid opinions?

  5. Tigran jan – we need to know what various analysts, CIA spies, and other people, who make opinion about Armenia outside, in order to understand, how to respond.

  6. Well, an analyst that changes his opinion (depending on what, btw?) is not really much use to us as an analyst, no? I mean, perhaps he’ll change his mind again (and again, depending on what?) and revert back to favoring a “dictatorial way” instead of “democracy.”

    Actually, those that know him from his ANCA Transcaucasus days says he is quite close to the U.S. Government (some say State Department, most say U.S. military) so perhaps it’s indicative of a change in U.S. policy. However, I tend not to dwell too much on what “analysts” say here as nearly all of them change their minds depending on who they’re working for or at the very least, are politically partisan in some way.

    Sure, I love the idea of mobilizing and including the population in the decision-making process, but perhaps if people such as Giragossian said that in 2003 and didn’t argue for “dictatorial ways” of managing democracy or maintaining stability, we wouldn’t be in this situation now. There’s plenty more out there too who said one thing when the situation suited them, but have now changed their positions.

    One is the National Democratic Institute (NDI), one employee of which told me in 2003 or 4 that “democracy was over-rated and can’t work in countries such as Armenia and anyway doesn’t exist in the West.” Now she’s a vocal supporter of “democracy” i.e. Levon Ter-Petrossian, which in my mind isn’t democratic, but rather partisan politics. Anyway, assuming he doesn’t change his mind again, I love the idea of promoting democracy in Armenia.

    But it’s hardly a unique idea and one that I think all of us understood when Giragossian was arguing for an Armenian Putin and promoting the inside view from Washington.

  7. Incidentally, Tigran’s comments about opinions from outside Armenia reminded me of something one of the leaders of the youth movement in the mid-90s in Armenia said to me in an interview conducted in 2004.

    OK: But we can understand that in order for the opposition to stage a successful “revolution” they need the assistance of outside powers.

    EM: Yes, but they don’t say we need democracy because it is good for Armenia. They don’t say that it’s the 21st Century and that’s why we can only have this model for the state. They instead say that Europe tells us that we should have democracy. So, we don’t want to protect our human rights because we think that we should but because Europe tells us to. In that case, if everything people declare is simply because Europe tells us to, then I am against it. However, if it is understood that this is the genuine model for the development of our country, then I am of course in favor of following that path.

    http://www.oneworld.am/journalism/interviews/eleonora_manandyan_0001.html

    And I have to be honest, the presidential election didn’t give me much hope that any sufficient number of people in Armenia understand what “democracy” is. It was merely about one minority believing their candidate should be in power regardless of the electoral process and another who thought the same about theirs.

  8. Genuine question: I understand the fact of hatred for LTP. I understand that opposition has come to mean LTP zombie (by those not in the opposition). But I’ve never seen a clear explanation of what the anti-opposition supports. Again, this is an honest question. Can someone explain what the folks that denounce the ‘radical opposition’ intend on doing. Please define it in terms of what you are, not what your not (i.e., try not to use LTP did this or that in your response). Opposition is a very broad term, I’m not sure that there is any regular person in Armenia who doesn’t oppose life here today, so where does that leave an honest citizen who wants to change things? And I not talking about in the abstract or about debunking everything that comes along – I mean, what to actually do right now. Thank you.

  9. sorry, i just came accross this and i can’t see how anyone who reads objectively (i.e. without jumping to, ‘well, this is from ltp and he did such and such, etc.) can say with a straight face that these words are merely an empirical statement of fact. i mean, c’mon this is 100% true. now you’re conclusion on what to do about it may differ, but let’s not pretend Armenia is okay because we hate someone (one of many) who admits the following is true. what kind of person would not fight against this? no one doubts that ltp did (or allowed) the same to happen under his watch. so again, i’m 24 years old and want to move my country forward and i know that i cannot simply run for parliament and ‘change things from the inside’ without being squashed or worse. what do i do?

    We, the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, genuine and lawful owners of our country, realizing that we have been deprived of the inborn, constitutional right of freely wielding power over our country, announce that from now on we will direct our all abilities against all the infringements of our rights.

    We realize that

    People of Armenia have been deprived of possibility of living and acting in their country. Meanwhile, the real levers of influencing and regulating the lives of the citizens have been captured by groups that do not recognize the State law and dictate their own laws to the country.

    The statehood publicly declared in Armenia has not received its constitutional embodiment because of the above mentioned reasons, which poses a threat up to physical existence and development of the people of Armenia.

    We are profoundly concerned that

    During the period of holding recurrent presidential elections in 2008 and the post-election period the citizens of Armenia were subject to unprecedented provocation by the political regime which has seized the power, which resulted in victims and increased the wave of unlawful actions.

    Law enforcement bodies are forced to give up obligations anticipated by the law for them and suppress the right and freedom of citizens through unlawful actions.

    Majority of lawful state officials and entrepreneurs, becoming hostages of the regime, are forced to serve the unlawful interests of the limited group of high ranking officials.

    Once again we were convinced that

    The people of Armenia are facing a problem of radically re-interpreting the political quality of their state and their role in global processes, as all attempts of building a constitutional state during last years in Armenia failed to success.

    The secure future of Armenia is threatened, the development of Armenia and the rights of its citizens are endangered, as the entire life of the country is under the influence of the impositions of a small number of people who have divided political and economic spheres between themselves, the constitutional functions of the institutions of power are fiction, and those institutions are endowed with unlawful functions of suppressing lawful claims and activism of the society.

    The monopole rights of forming national authorities through free elections and supervising their activities are seized from the Armenian society.

    The majority of the political parties does not only demonstrate their inaction, but also turn into reactionary mechanism in the hands of those who have seized the power.

    Freedom of economic activity and freedom of expression are paralyzed, as those have become the privilege of the abovementioned circles, and the society is deprived of the right of free entrepreneurship.

    The basis of foreign policy has been distorted as the ruling regime uses it to ensure its protection and welfare.

    Concluding that the created situation

    poses danger to the vital interests and national security of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh, hinders the socio-economic development of our country, threatens to distort the strategic balance of powers in our region, isolates Armenia from world tendencies of development, alienates majority of the citizens from the possibility of being the master of their freedoms and ensuring their welfare, forces citizens to leave their motherland, decreases the degree prestige of Armenia within the Diaspora and the international community.

    Stating that

    Establishment of full-fledged constitutional order in Armenia and full implementation of constitutional norms and mechanisms in all spheres of state activities are currently the main strategic goal of the Armenian society and political powers.

    Re-gaining the inborn right of citizens of Armenia of freely wielding power over their own country according to Constitutional norms is irreversible.

    Decomposing the illegal shadow mechanisms of regulating socio-political life, inculcating of electoral mechanism of forming authorities in the state are pressing problems and without solving those problems it is impossible to develop and implement policies that pursue national interests.

    And emphasizing that

    The anti-Constitutional ruling system of Armenia does not demonstrate willingness to stop seizing power, moreover they make additional efforts to hinder formation of lawful authorities through elections and establishment of Constitutional order in the country

    We call everybody who is concerned with the fate of Armenia, for individual and joint fight against violation of own rights for the sake of respectable and prosperous life, for the sake of free Armenia and for the sake of next generation.

  10. bl, the anti-opposition supports the status quo. Which is:

    – endemic corruption;
    – dismissive attitude towards basic human rights of the Armenian citizens;
    – thugs in control of internal politics;
    – political isolation of Armenia;
    – nepotism;
    – uncompetitive economy heavily dependent on exported labor;
    – Russian ownership of whatever viable economic activity there is left in the country;
    – the list goes on.

    They only have one argument – 12 years ago LTP falsified the elections. This is most probably true but it’s not really an argument since they actually are for acts much worse than the ancient history they repeat. The people who falsified the elections for LTP have been doing it for RK and most recently SS.

    Plus, the opposition is not LTP, it’s the substantial part of the Armenian population unhappy with the current bespredel.

  11. Then again, I shouldn’t be so hard on Giragossian, perhaps. Seems like I’m considered in the same boat…

    [W]e expect the Armenian state to:

    […]

    Deport foreign agents such as Onnik Krokorian and Richard Giragosian back to where they came from.

    […]

    http://forum.armenianclub.com/showthread.php?p=188890

    […]

    Also, the dubious nature and character of individuals such as John Hughes, the British born Onnik Krikorian and the American born Richard Giragosian are very obvious as well.

    […]

    Moreover, we do realize that you are not alone, John. You have a lot of help – Richard Giragosian, Onnik Krikorian, Van Krikorian come to mind, to name a few of the obvious ones.

    http://www.armenianow.com/?action=viewArticle&IID=1179&CID=2851&AID=2903&lng=eng

    God, I’m tired of the situation in this country, tired of the polarization, tired of the hate, tired of the inability of people to compromise and think about the future.

    bl, you ask what needs to be done?

    To be honest, I don’t know, but genuinely considering the suggestions from the international community might be a good first step.

  12. Nazarian,
    that’s what it would seem to me, but just like normal opposition members don’t ‘hate armenia and want to tear it down’, i can’t buy that status quo people want that either. i keep thinking of the Soviet man and how they become such slaves that any free thinker who starts to rock the boat gets much more hatred from his fellows (that he wants to help) than from the master. this is of course the evil ‘brillance’ of the stalins, et al.

    but i don’t buy that entirely. except for the ruling elite we are all part of the opposition it would seem. look, we all hate the status quo even if we had to sell some pride to buy some security (a position, getting out of the army, etc.) within the current system. i understand lots of folks don’t want to jump behind ltp, but why not the ordinary people come together and love each other and trust in the goodness of each other rather than find fault anywhere we can?

  13. Plus, the opposition is not LTP, it’s the substantial part of the Armenian population unhappy with the current bespredel.

    There are divisions within those opposed to a Sargsyan presidency. There are those who a) oppose him and see Ter-Petrossian as the only viable alternative, b) oppose him but see no alternative, c) oppose him but oppose Ter-Petrossian and support another candidate, and so on.

    Regarding bl’s comments, the grievances are very real, but these are not new to Armenia and have existed since at least 1995. What we have is a profound problem with a system created under Ter-Petrossian and perpetuated under Kocharian. Now the question is how best to resolve the mess we’re in. Incidentally, it’s kind of interesting to note that all of these problems are not unique to Armenia. They are standard for the CIS with the exception of the Baltic Republics.

    Democratization is more than just whether Sargsyan or Ter-Petrossian is in power. Like they say, it’s a process and also a matter of cultural practice and mentality as well as reform. It’s a process that will regress along the way as well as progress and likely take generations. It is about many things which is why I’m really tired of this damn Sargsyan-Ter-Petrossian argument. In a sense, I agree with Giragossian’s “analysis.”

    However, what gets me is that it’s something so obvious I have to wonder why it wasn’t said long ago or indeed, in 1995, 1996 and 1998. Actually, it was, but few saying the same thing today couldn’t be bothered to back then which in part is why we’re where we are now. We also need a proper program of civic education in schools rather than hand out money to the same old NGOs 6 months before elections, but that’s another issue.

  14. agreed. you cannot have constitutions without constitutionalism, etc. the difference now is that it is now, not then. these youth groups are really great (forget the details) because they exist. i for one plan on supporting them with love and helping them to not become polarized or politicized regardless of who or how they started. there is still time for young people to be objective and demand better than SS or LTP or worse yet complete fish like AB.

    they are fighting for political prisoners now for example. the circle has to be broken somewhere. even if these people did the same thing in the past or would have now, this kind of thing isn’t right and it has to stop now. we’d go on this path forever otherwise. it’s time for Armenian Christianity to live today instead of in 301 and 1915.

  15. Nazarian – they do not have only one argument. I can go through your list one by one and state confidently that

    1) LTP was the architect of the stated phenomenon
    and/or
    2) appealed to people to perpetuate the very ill continued in the 10 years after he disgracefully quit
    and/or
    3) encouraged/exacerbated the problems more than had existed in the days before his magical re-entry into politics.

    One additional simple point: had LTP not pushed his followers fueled by hatred there would have been no deaths this election season.

    As far as bl’s original question, it is a fair one, and those in opposition to LTP need to present goals/actions/ideas for the future, not the past.

  16. bl, to continue, as someone who thinks that LTP was a destructive force that set Armenian democratic evolution back, I believe that some of these ideas have been described in previous posts:

    There are lots of places in Armenian society to make a difference. Cultivate new leaders who preach hope not hate. The population wants to have leaders it can believe in, not use (or be used by), Invest in modest change. Improve a school, pick up trash, support those who are less fortunate. Societal and behavioral change comes slowly: no free lunch and no quick fixes. Be a good role model for all around us, with whom we work, study, or live. This means not only don’t take bribes, but don’t give them. This means pay taxes, and not just join the demonstration against the tax authorities. This means don’t cheer for joy when yesterday’s oligarch joins your side and yesterday’s devil becomes tomorrow’s angel.

  17. AH, the people who pulled the trigger killed them. there is no excuse for shooting your brothers, ever. ever. ever. Let God forgive you, I know you are frustrated.

  18. AH – let’s be fair and state, that had not the authorities authorised the police to use firearms and had the police been more competent, there wouldn’t have been deaths. One of the things I am absolutely frustrated about is the fact, that no senior police official – Afyan or Hayk Hovhannisyan or the like, have stepped down from their post for the disgraceful handling of the riots on March 1.

    I was there and I can state with full confidence, that police forces did all the possible mistakes on March 1. The police leadership in Armenia is so increadibly incompetent, that I now feel soory for every single dram of tax paid to this government! When you mention “promoting hate”, please have decency and also note the fact, that the authorities did everything to make sure, that people have reasons to hate them!

  19. AH – your second post (at 9:57 pm), is where I completely agree, but common, you’re a clever, thinking person – stop this bull about LTP promoting hate – I’m completely fed up with that phrase by now.

  20. bl, Yes I do,

    Observer, I guess we can disagree on a few points here. While I agree that it is the responsibility of authorities to control situations (they failed), it was the build up of hatred and false-hope for weeks that was the direct cause of clashes. My point was that when clashes among people blind with rage and hate meet with the semi-competent police force (as you stated above), the deaths were practically inevitable. I see those who incited the rioters as being responsible.

    As far as LTP promoting hate, I guess that is how I see it. I saw a man who through hypocrisy and hate preyed on the frustration of people in a neo-Bolshevik manner that ridiculed potential allies and was bent on destruction of the process, beginning with pre-election announcements to dismiss all legal and procedural decisions, and ending with disgraceful meglomania abandoning his own followers at the moment of truth.

  21. bl- I’ll explain my position. I don’t live in Armenia unlike you. I live in the US, so does nazarian, and many others who come here and comment. I think it unethical in such times for diaspora to take sides with any one of the candidates. We don’t live your life, and if anyone should stay neutral in such times then it should be us, those who don’t live the life of Armenia. However, we should participate in the political discussion somehow as we do contribute a lot to Armenian economy and other aspects of Armenian life. The least I want is some kind of two sided approach. Basically the third element of Armenian politics, the far left, is missing from the picture. There is the government that most likely doesn’t function the way people like you want, but at least in certain rare occasions they came out and make announcements about their policies (like in the case of PM making it clear that gas price will go up). People like me, then, can read that stuff and understand what is happening in Armenia from the government’s point of view. Then we have the moderates, like Vazgen Manoukian, or Rafii Hovahanisian and the likes and the media people who stay as neutral as possible. This part of the political system of Armenia also functions somewhat well, we do see their opinion on important issues and then we can juxtapose the stuff they say with the stuff that government says and make our own conclusions. The third part of the political system, the far left, just doesn’t make any sense. They have become quite radical and absolutely incapable of communicating their ideas on those same issues. Now, people like you have far better understanding of what this bunch is saying, but people like me, who are not in Armenia (and possibly not all of them), have no understanding of what this part of the political system is saying. Therefore, you see me and people like me asking them to write their stuff in an intelligent readable form so that we can finally understand who those 40-50 thousand people were following on that bloody day. Some of these people are the ones that we support by sending money back to Armenia, and we would at least like to understand what they were being told and promised that they got so excited and started following the pack leaded by Levon. Thats basically it.

    I also think it is partially up to the two parts of our political system, the government and the moderates, to somehow persuade the left to make sense. It could be achieved by making it clear that nothing of the sort that they write can be published (again I don’t see any violations of free speech here). There are probably other ways also, and I am no expert in these meters, but they have not been doing anything to make this part less radical and more comprehensible.

  22. grigor, the only party in the far left that’s involved in the politics is the Dashnakcutyun. I think they communicate their positions quite well. The others in the far left like the communists are very passive currently.

  23. I hate the system. I hate that everything is a bribe. I hate that we are sold to Russia. I hate that most people can’t afford bread (even with diasporan remitances). I hate that our leaders are rabiz ignorant thugs. I hate that are best minds have left the country just to feed themselves. I hate that the diaspora come and stay in the Marriott and think things are fine here. I hate that good honest people are in prison. I hate that young men aspire to leather jackets and mercedez only. I hate that the border is closed because of monopolies not because of any Genocide concern. I hate that we cannot talk about realistic proposals to find peace with our neighbors for ourselves. I hate that there are no trees for shitty cafes. I hate that Teghut will be cleared. I hate that every woman in my family has or will die of cancer. I hate that Alverdi and Kapan are death zones.

    I hate this so much that I will stand behind any crowd big enough that stands a chance to rip power from these immoral devils. And once those devils are running to their palaces on the Turkish coast or Sochi or Italy, I will turn to the leaders of this new crowd and DARE them to try to steal our dignity, our history, our pride THIS time.

    Pain, suffering, humiliation, frustration

  24. nazarian- thanks for pointing out that I was politically incorrect in my usage of words political right and far left. However, it is clear what I was trying to say. far left= opposition lead by LTP.

  25. OK bl. I am trying to follow the logic of hate. And when does the cycle end? Many before you were angry and frustrated (I choose to not use the word hate here) at the Communists, at LTP, at RK, and are now pessimistic as well. I think there are lots of good people in society trying to make and are making a difference. I think that positive and lasting change does not and will not come overnight. I think that there are many good people in government and in various opposition groups who want the bad to go away and for the good to rise to the top. I think there are many reasons to be optimistic compared to 2, 5, and definitely 15 years ago. I think that many patriotic everyday hard-working people are more and more realistic on how to bring about hope in their fellow citizen.

    I think there are people who prey on people be encouraging hatred and channel this toward destruction. And I feel strongly that change motivated by hate cannot bring about good.

  26. perhaps. but that sad and legitimate anger is real and is not the fault of people just trying to survive. hate is an emotional word that we both know differs from the evil hatred that you are trying to mix it with. i hate that my grandmother keeps the heat off 90% of the winter because we can’t afford her not to. the hate of us being killed by outsiders motivated my brothers to organize and fight for Artsagh. you know exactly what i mean by that word, please enough with the semantics.

    your suggestion to generally be good people and active in the community is correct, in fact most of us are very kind and help when we can as you know. but you also know very well that approach is limited very quickly – like when i have to bribe the doctors just to take care of my wife in the hospital. or my attempt to start a good clean business goes nowhere because i won’t cheat.

    the cycle ends like all other cycles – abruptly. not a total revolution of course, not even big necessarily. but something out of the ordinary must happen – this is tautological. as for your hatred of ltp and this ‘radical opposition’, it ironically just may turn out a pivotal moment in our history. a jolt, and bump that pushes things along until the next one that pushes it further. whatever the motivation, we can’t argue that this year has changed things. again, we are here: do we use love to embrace the good or cynicism to continue to bash everything?

  27. perhaps. but that sad and legitimate anger is real and is not the fault of people just trying to survive. hate is an emotional word that we both know differs from the evil hatred that you are trying to mix it with. i hate that my grandmother keeps the heat off 90% of the winter because we can’t afford her not to. the hate of us being killed by outsiders motivated my brothers to organize and fight for Artsagh. you know exactly what i mean by that word, please enough with the semantics.

    your suggestion to generally be good people and active in the community is correct, in fact most of us are very kind and help when we can as you know. but you also know very well that approach is limited very quickly – like when i have to bribe the doctors just to take care of my wife in the hospital. or my attempt to start a good clean business goes nowhere because i won’t cheat.

    the cycle ends like all other cycles – abruptly. not a total revolution of course, not even big necessarily. but something out of the ordinary must happen – this is tautological. as for your hatred of ltp and this ‘radical opposition’, it ironically just may turn out a pivotal moment in our history. a jolt, and bump that pushes things along until the next one that pushes it further. whatever the motivation, we can’t argue that this year has changed things. again, we are here: do we use love to embrace the good or cynicism to continue to bash everything

  28. AH – I agree with just about everything you have said. Hatred and fear bring hopelessness and desperation — so destructive. We definitely need more people who are positively-minded and motivated. I used to think that Raffi Hovanissian was such a potential leader…. Does anyone know: When Raffi was not allowed to run for President, why didn’t Heritage advance another candidate in his place?

  29. bl – I understand. I agree that change – radical and revolutionary, even – can shake the system enough to change it for the better. But the odds of this kind of shake-up resulting in an improvement is vastly worse than the odds of it degenerating further.

    Even after 1988, with so much positive energy in the air, look at what happened: the movement was co-opted, leaders became fantastically wealthy while the infrastructure crumbled. I won’t go through in details what we all (should) remember. My point now is that hate and spite and vendetta-driven king-of-the-hill politics has low likelihood to improve all the societal ills you mention.

    No easy path to health, especially with medicine which has proven to lead to loss of life.

  30. Listen, when some of us talk about the rhetoric of hate we are referring to the mentality that pushed the most fanatical of LTP supporters to threaten, intimidate and attack anyone who didn’t support his bid to return to power even if they were against Serge. This is on top of the tactic of trying to make believe that Karabakh Armenians were the enemy to the extent where I heard with my own ears protesters curse police and others as “Karabaghtsi” and “Turks” even when they were Armenian.

    Hating the system, the situation and the government is one thing, but turning the hatred and escalating it to the point of physical threats as well as attempts to intimidate through verbal attacks against those who don’t support LTP is quite another. It is the lowest form of politics and in fact, it is not politics. It is something that has no place in any democracy and in my opinion, was one of the gravest mistakes in LTP’s campaign.

    It was an attempt to turn Armenian against Armenian in the interests of coming to power at any cost when what was needed was an attempt to UNITE Armenians for the greater good. Instead, we got Bush’s inbred retarded mentality of “if you’re not with us you’re against us” taken to the extreme and with obvious consequences. When that changes, and I’m glad to note that tempers and emotions have died down in recent weeks, I can begin to consider any movement against Sargsyan as one that has the future of the country in mind.

    This might also make it more likely that a larger and more mature grouping of civil society and political groups can join in what might emerge as a pro-democracy rather than a pro-Ter-Petrossian movement. And yes, there is a difference.

  31. And anyway, what are people fighting for? An Armenia with Serge, An Armenia without Serge? An Armenia with Levon? An Armenia without Levon?

    Or simply a democratic Armenia where presidential and parliamentary power are checks and balances to ensure consensus in the decision-making process and accountability from whoever is in power?

  32. Onnik said ” but turning the hatred and escalating it to the point of physical threats as well as attempts to intimidate through verbal attacks against those who don’t support LTP is quite another. It is the lowest form of politics and in fact, it is not politics. It is something that has no place in any democracy and in my opinion, was one of the gravest mistakes in LTP’s campaign.”

    this is true, but to my original question of what the anti-opposition wants or is planning to do: SS is guilty of the above and more – he killed in the street (even if by AH’s logic they deserved it…sad to even type those words…), he killed. this is a milestone and not a good one. this is what confuses me – i can understand all the ‘dislike’ of ltp and the opposition, but the argument of AH and grigor and onnik by only condemning one side is the implicit acceptance of the other. when i saw the army, i said ‘this is their downfall, regardless of sides no one is going to shoot Armenians and get a way with it…’

    but they did! all talk is ltp or anti-ltp! so what now? just be good people and pick up trash when we see it? to answer Onniks last quesiton -YES! but simple fact is that SS cannot lead us. that doesn’t mean ltp should, but SS cannot. if people can’t stand what ltp has or might have done, than certainly the thought of RK/SS makes them sick.

    so again: if you are anti ltp, what are you FOR?

    (AH, with due respect please no condescending answers about being good citizens. this is assumed)

  33. Onnik- you are so gifted with the language. I wish I could articulate my earlier points that way.

    I 100% agree. The kind of language LTP camp has used and has been using is unacceptable. However, by mere saying that it is unacceptable will take us nowhere. Certainly they ate not going to change their ways just because few think it is unacceptable. One has to think a way of encouraging them to say what they say in a way that is more comprehensible and less destructive. After all there were some 40000-50000 people following him on that day. It may not be a large crowed in American standards, but hey for a country of less than 3 million that is a huge crowed. That crowed wanted what Levon was giving them, and what exactly that was should be figured out and made accessible to a larger part of the population. This process might also make it clear that in fact Levon wasn’t really offering anything, in which case the crowed will also realize that they were pursuing empty dreams. Either way only good will come out, if they are encouraged or, I would actually say, forced to express their goals in a clear language.

  34. On this “Turk” thing. I am actually very very surprised that Turkey hasn’t complained about this. I think they should demand an apology from LTP and not only from him but also from the Armenian people.

    On Tatar-Mongol thing. I am surprised that no Tatar or Mongol groups emerged in Armenia and demanded public apology from LTP. Or took the case to the civil court. Or perhaps just an explanation why their ethnicity is used in trying to apply something negative.

    On karabaxci thing. I am surprised that Karabaxcis did not take the case to the civil court.

    Over all, our naive tolerance towards that kind of speech and language is what lead us to a situation where we got no choice but to elect a president from a set of two thugs. It is up to us to demand a respect from our politicians and JUST SAY NO to any abusive language they might choose to use. There is really no middle ground, you either talk straight or we don’t listen to you. That should be the mentality of most if not all Armenians.

  35. Following up on bl’s youth group talk.

    Ironically, few days ago NYTimes had a piece on French 1968 unrest when students organized and marched on the streets pretty much like what Armenian youth groups do these days. It was interesting for me to compare those events with what is happening in Armenia right now. One thing that is striking is how the whole thing started. It didn’t start as a political movement at all but rather social movement and that is exactly what it achieved, social revolution. In short, students weren’t fighting for the rights of other politicians but for their own rights, and that seems to be one of the key differences between our youth groups and the foreign ones. At any rate here is a link to the piece.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/29/world/europe/30france.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=france+1968&st=nyt&oref=slogin

  36. Grigor, the Mongol-Tatar khanate the LTP referred to is not anything directed racially, it was the Golden Horde from the Middle Ages. Remember, he’s a medieval historian, and it’s really unfortunate that it wasn’t explained well and that so many misunderstood what he was talking about as racial hatred. I just dredged up the speech he wrote that used these words, so I think it might be useful to your understanding to read what he actually said (I’ve cut many paragraphs out, about praise-singers etc., but kept the most useful ones for purposes of understanding what he’s talking about). So here it is, and draw your own conclusions.

    The Tartar-Mongol Khanate (excerpt from Ter-Petrossian speech)

    In my speech at the October 26 rally, I described the nature of the economic system established by the Kocharyan-Serzh regime, and noted that it has nothing to do with either socialism, or feudalism, or the nominally-declared capitalism, but instead, resembles a Tartar-Mongol khanate type system. Let me make clear: this is not an ethnic characterization, but a purely scientific concept, thoroughly researched and developed by world-renowned historians, particularly Russian Orientalists Barthold, Vladimirtsov, Grekov, and Yakubovski.

    What is the nature of this Tartar-Mongol khanate? As we know, in the 13th and 14th centuries, the Mongols, under the leadership of Genghis Khan and his successors, established the largest land empire in history. At the basis of their ideology of the conquest of Heaven and Earth was the principle of “One God in Heaven and one Great Khan on Earth.” The Mongols thus believed that their power was God-given, and that they were chosen by the Almighty to be the master of the whole world. Other nations had to abide by their rules, and if they resisted, were subject to annihilation. This conceptual framework left no space for not only enemy states, but also allied ones, since alliance implied equality.

    Now, let’s draw some parallels with our contemporary state of affairs, and see what distinguishes the Kocharyan-Serzh rule from the Tartar-Mongol Khanate. Well, there is an amazing and instructive similarity, or to put it more accurately, identicalness between the two – an extremely instructive phenomenon, indeed, for historians and political scientists. Like the Tartar-Mongol khans, Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan view Armenia as their own personal estate, and have been dividing it among their family members, close and distant relatives, in-laws, godfathers, godchildren, and the like. Every official that loses his job in Karabakh receives an immediate appointment in Armenia. Slowly, but surely, Karabakhtsis are expanding their niche in the business life of our country, becoming a dependable base for the current authorities. This shortsighted, to put it mildly, but in fact treacherous policy of the Kocharyan-Serzh partnership seriously endangers the survival of Karabakh by the way, by stimulating emigration and the depletion of its human resources. It has already affected our statistics, and shall one day put us on the edge of an imminent national catastrophe. This demonstrates that even the fate of Karabakh does not concern them. They have long ago moved their families, relatives, in-laws, godparents, and godchildren to Armenia. If anything happens to Karabakh, they will not even blink. It is your hearts and our hearts that will bleed, and it is we who will mourn.

  37. Found the full speech, so if you want to read it, this way it won’t take up space here. Mongol-Tatar discussion is late in the speech, but maybe you want to read the whole thing?? At least you’ll see what he said for yourself.
    http://www.hetq.am/eng/politics/7401/

  38. Grigor, I haven’t read the NYT piece but you can’t compare the student movements of anywhere with Armenia. Firstly, most of the main organizers are directly linked to Ter-Petrossian’s team so you can view it more as a political youth wing. Secondly, even then, the numbers are minimal. Unless a free rock concert is thrown into the mix for now they can manage a few dozen people.

    The majority of youth — including students — are not part of any “movement.” Until I see a rally of say, 3,000 Armenian students demanding democracy I won’t think any differently. For now, if they can manage 100 it’s a surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt they believe in what they say they do, but it is not a student movement. The Republican party controls the universities too strongly, youth anyway remain apathetic, and other parties such as the ARF and even OYP have been more active.

    However, that has hardly resulted in anything happening here of note. Lots of youth on the streets for anti-Turkey and anti-Azerbaijan marches, but a handful when it comes to democracy. I wish that would change, I really do, but I believe that the idea that it first serves to support the radical opposition is counter-productive. In fact, if Hima is an offshoot of Sksela to serve directly partisan political purposes, I hope that Sksela can finally be a pro-democratic youth movement which until now I consider that it was not.

    From last year it was mainly controlled and organized by people directly and indirectly connected to LTP and Impeachment. Maybe they kick-started something, I don’t know, but the numbers are insignificant (and I would argue their activities might seem intriguing to outside observers but likely to confuse or turn off local youth) and for them to get more than 30-50 people on the street for clearly identified pro-democracy activities requires the ability to appeal to a broad political base of youth as well as those who are non-partisan.

    Their spirit may be there, but they are too few in number to achieve anything. Really, from what I’ve seen, apart from staging free rock concerts where people go for the music, they can’t gather more than 50-80 people. This is not the student protests of any other country, including Georgia. Try and work with youth on other issues, however, such as corruption in the Universities or military conscription and it becomes another issue.

    This scares the government. Meanwhile, understand that the type of youth attracted to Sksela and Hima represent perhaps 0.1 percent of all Armenian youth. It’s a chicken and egg situation, perhaps. Before embarking on a social revolution, there needs to be one in terms of mentality. Already, nearly 2 months after the presidential election, there is no sign of that. Instead, what we have is the same sort of numbers and people who were part of similar actions in 2003-4 but with a more charismatic leader.

  39. ohh finally something reasonable from that side. Thank you Ani, thank you very much. I must say that this is the very first time I read a reasonable explanation of that side’s position.

    Ok now I see where the Tatar-Mongol thing came from. Can you also explain what the Tatar-Mongol avazakapetutjun was supposed to be?

    You know, I have to disagree though.

    […] “One God in Heaven and one Great Khan on Earth.” […]

    Any kingdom of medieval times, European or not, had this kind of policy. We can look at French or the British or the Spanish or etc, and they all had a similar system. It was believed that the King was the chosen one, basically, god put him in there and he got all his divine powers from god. Basically, he was the King because god made him the king. Also, all medieval kingdoms had a similar kind of distribution of power, within the family and friends. In fact there are many reported instances of marriages within the family so that the power and wealth stays within the family. I find it strange that our scholar overlooked the global picture and singled out one particular instance from medieval times. He should of used something like “medieval kingdom ” rather than “Tatar-Mongol”. Now, I don’t like LTP at all, but he is one of the most educated and intelligent people we have in our society. Therefore, I find it difficult to believe that he overlooked such a simple matter and not at all anticipate the fact that some would associate his comments with racism. It is just hard for me to believe that he didn’t do that intentionally. Maybe I am wrong, and he indeed didn’t anticipate that kind of reaction. In that case, a decent politician (I don’t want to say a human being) would apologize for being misunderstood because of his clumsiness and would put the record straight by correcting his mistake. Did he apologize?

  40. Of course, just to say that situation could change. Since the beginning of 2007 there have been visits by representatives of other youth movements to work with Sksela (OSI funded the head of the Albanian Mjaft! to come to Armenia to help them before the 2007 parliamentary election. I know this to be true because I ran into him in a rock club sitting with Sksela and the head of NDI in Armenia as well as the political officer from the British Embassy). There are also rumors that the U.S. Embassy, OSI or Eurasia are considering funding Sksela, but none have been confirmed. Observer will be able to shed light on this, however.

  41. thanks Onnik. I guess I got completely different picture from over here. You know, when they talk and talk about these youth groups it feels like it is big. But I guess as you say, it is actually negligible. Eh, go figure.

  42. Ani, Grigor, maybe it’s just me, but I think academics should stick to what they’re good at and politics requires something else. The very fact that speeches like that were made is amazing to consider. Like more than 1 percent understood? Which is probably why many of Levon’s supporters went around spitting and screaming at people they were Turks, or Karabaghtsi, or Mongols.

    Are they any real politicians in Armenia who can speak to the electorate in a language and manner they can understand? Of course, some would also argue that the system Ter-Petrossian is pretty much that in place under his rule. Thing is, the khanate was “Armenian” and not “Kharabaghtsi.” Now, forgetting the fact that the Dodi Gagos, Lfik Samos, Mika Baghdasarov’s etc were not brought from Karabakh, that makes me feel a lot better.’

    Well, actually, it doesn’t, but anyway.

  43. Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan view Armenia as their own personal estate, and have been dividing it among their family members, close and distant relatives, in-laws, godfathers, godchildren, and the like.

    Ironically, someone as apparently “intelligent” as Levon Ter-Petrossian failed to recognize that this is not something specific to Robert Kocharian and Serge Sargsyan, but something that also existed under his rule (the Vano-Grzo link, the Sargsyan clan, etc) and more significantly, part of the local culture. This is pretty much how every Armenian here works and the same is true for Azerbaijan and to a lesser extent Georgia.

    This is part of the culture and why corruption and nepotism is so ingrained. It is part of the local mentality, part of a historical legacy, and part of local culture. It needs to change, but to make believe that if Serge and Kocharian were gone so would this disappear is ridiculous. Now, if here were to talk about the need for a proper functioning system of laws to prevent corruption and nepotism, I’d understand that more.

    As it was, blaming a phenomenon such as this on Kocharian and Sargsyan on the basis that it is Karabakhtsi who benefitted (and I don’t believe the numbers put them in the majority — indeed, Hayastantsi-Karabakh frictions have always been there) is missing the point. This is a cultural and social problem that will take generations to change in terms of mentality, and in the shorter term, only through the rule of law.

  44. […] maybe it’s just me, but I think academics should stick to what they’re good at and politics requires something else. […]

    No it is not just you. You are right! I just glanced over Ani’s link, I must say it was like a professor giving a lecture to intellectuals who are not hungry. I was actually quite surprised at the level of sophistication and the deepness of his analysis. Wow. The man really doesn’t know how to talk. Its either all sophistication appropriate for lecture halls, or mean-spirited street talk appropriate for street gangs and likes. I actually was quite surprised that after pages and pages of highly sophisticated material he abruptly changed the topic and said “let me entertain you now”, and started his attacks on Rob and Serj. At any rate, I missed all that happened in the fall, because I was just too busy not that I am less busy now, but thanks, I now have a somewhat better understanding why some are so dissatisfied with him and some think of him as a king.

  45. […] This is part of the culture and why corruption and nepotism is so ingrained. It is part of the local mentality, part of a historical legacy, and part of local culture. It needs to change, […]

    Onnik, it won’t change overnight. The corruption has been there for such a long long time that it will be hard to change with only one new generation. I think among European countries, Italy is probably one of the closest to us in terms of culture and political situation. They have a pretty strong economy, but just look what happens in, say, their universities. The kind of corruption that exists there is exactly the kind that exists in Armenia. What I am trying to say is that even very powerful economies have a hard time eliminating this corruption thing. It feels like it is some kind of “cultural corruption” that is typical to many nations around the world, not only Armenians.

  46. Onnik, I think 10 years sitting in the Matenadaran thinking and stewing left him way too much time to work on his speeches…. And I know he made some apologies, but probably he should have said more about how he’d had 10 years to think about everything he did wrong, and he came back to try to fix everything that he did wrong as well as Kocharian (did he come back for that? Anyway, a politician would have said that even if it wasn’t true.) As for putting in politicians over academics, it’s certainly fashionable and why Bush has been there for 8 years rather than Gore or Kerry, not to mention Sarkoszy. Hard to find somebody with the right balance, isn’t it?

    Anyway, what Armenia and the region need is a “paradigm shift,” and that’s hard to achieve, especially when there’s money involved and a big neighbor to the North who says no. Personally I still think that a large piece of a big pie (monopoly) isn’t necessarily that much less than a whole tiny pie (healthy competition), which is what the oligarchs are gobbling right now. Wish the Diaspora understood that, but they like the word “stability” better.

    Grigor, ask Nazarian about avazakapetutyan–I don’t know either!

  47. Sorry, meant “large piece of a big pie (healthy competition) whole tiny pie (monopoly). Too much typing!

  48. Grigor and Ani – Of course it was no coincidence that LTP chose Mongol-Tatar over any of the other (arguably more appropriate European analogies). It is because the analogy was another example of the desire to explicitly or implicitly divide the Armenian nation.

    LTP despised the Diaspora as president.
    LTP despised all those who did not support him while running for president in 08.

    LTP has been the only politician who has built a campaign on racism and hate principles. These are criminal offenses, and the only thing that is saving him now from criminal charges is that the low degree of faith in the judicial system means that he will probably be considered a martyr in a twisted sense by some vocal minority, so he has basically had a carte blanche to whip up hysteria and hate-monger.

    I for one do not see his choice of the Mongol-Tatar hordes as some kind of deep historical analysis to the high level educated crowds (the same who cheer with glee that Lady Hakob or Gneeral Manvel are joining).

    No, this is just Anti-Armenian divisive politics at its ugliest.

  49. Grigor, your comment about Italy is well taken and indeed, a visiting Italian student made that point — not just as it pertains to corruption and the political system, but also the local culture and mentality. She especially noticed this in terms of gender. Armenia reminded how things she was told Italy was 30 years ago, she said, and even in some parts of the county, it hadn’t changed that much. Still, I would imagine the extent of corruption in the medical and health systems is probably greater and more devastating in countries such as Armenia, but anyway.

  50. And I know he made some apologies, but probably he should have said more about how he’d had 10 years to think about everything he did wrong, and he came back to try to fix everything that he did wrong as well as Kocharian (did he come back for that?

    Not acknowledging that the 1996 presidential election was falsified was something many were expecting, especially as Vano had already admitted as such years earlier. Instead, he denied it and somewhat ironically, pointed to the ruling by the constitutional court validating his re-election as evidence. Fast forward to 2008 and he now refuses to accept the ruling by the constitutional court (ironically still mainly manned by people appointed under his presidency)

    Sorry, but I don’t believe in the logic “it’s one rule for them, and another for me.” In fact, I find it rather hypocritical and not something that gave me any faith in all the talk of “democracy” that surrounded the LTP movement. As Alcee Hastings said at the recent U.S. Helsinki Commission hearing on Armenia:

    All of us note that Mr. Ter-Petrossian and his followers complained bitterly about Mr. Kocharian and Sargsyan and accused them of rigging elections and authoritarianism and corruption.

    Now, one need not live but just a little while to remember the 1996 election, and the acknowledgement of the then internal minister that the election results were rigged, which by any logic would question the moral authority of Mr. Petrossian to raise question about rigged elections.

    Of course, we know elections were falsified in 1996, (1998?), 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2008. Now, the question is that given that the architects of electoral fraud have been Ter-Petrossian, Kocharian and Sargsyan, what happens next? Regime change on the streets or a genuine attempt to push for real democratic change in Armenia through structural changes, the active involvement of all mature political and civil society groups in Armenia?

    It will take a long time, but if the intent is there from all sides, it could be argued that the CE resolution is an appropriate document to use as the basis for doing so in time for the next phase of elections.

    They probably won’t meet international standards as I know them on the basis of the lack of a culture of democracy here (some Armenians really do vote for who pays them the most and they’re happy with the situation while others think that their candidate/s deserve to come to power by whatever means), but we do need to try. This is the democratic process and one in play in post-color-revolution countries.

    However, you don’t necessarily need the colored revolution to embark on such a path. If it were to fail, however, then I would imagine we’d see a greater chance of that happening. But as internal political and pro-democracy forces do need the support from outside, they have to be seen to be genuine in what they demand. For now, I don’t see that from Ter-Petrossian’s camp and this is the main problem.

  51. Grigor, the reason he didn’t say “medieval kingdom” instead of “Mongol-Tatar” is that he needed to take something from Armenian history for his argument. When do you ever hear an American politician make an analogy (when they can manage it) with European or Latin American history? Even the “dead or alive” Bush speech was from Texas ;) Of course, LTP could have taken a more recent analogy from Armenian history, but he was avoiding offending Russia, and he was also trying to avoid Turkey, so it’s back to the 13th c. And I don’t see any Mongol or Tatar nations next door, so if you see racism, you’re projecting it.

    Onnik, I agree with you, he should have apologized for those things. His ego makes him a Shakespearian character, as compelling with his faults as with his virtues. Serzh and Robert, on the other hand, are simply apparachniks, and nobody has ever found anything colorful to quote in their speeches–not that they ever wrote or thought anything themselves.

    Somebody I know also pointed out the Italy parallel, and now they’ve got Berlusconi to “lead” them again–he’s the one who said that the Chinese boiled their babies and ate them. Berlusconi’s party and slogan (from 1993) is “Forza Italy!” In English, it’s “Forward, Italy!” Ring any bells??

  52. Qualifying the regime as a Tartar Mongol khanate was the theoretical foundation of LTP and his team’s analysis of current system and of their proposed solutions.

    The Tartar Mongol Khanate is in fact one of the categories of “Asian Absolutism”; a pre-capitalist mode of production/social order that Marx and Engels adopted from various oriental studies and integrated in their early works. In order to “simplify” the theory (read vulgarise), Bolsheviks such as Plekhanov and later Stalin replaced AA by “Feudalism”, which used to refer mainly to pre-capitalist systems in Europe. This was to emphasis the universality of human evolution.

    According to Marxist-Leninist doctrine, the natural evolution of AA-F is towards capitalism but to pass to this “higher stage”, a “bourgeois democratic” revolution is required. LTP and his team indeed qualified their movement as a “bourgeois democratic revolution”. In other words, they saw the movement that was emerging in support of LTP’s candidacy a revolutionary movement that would turn Armenia into a “normal” country; a truly free market economy with a democratic system. (All these are of course recycled Historical Materialism, and they didn’t really need 10 years to research the topic).

    The reference to Tartar Mongol khanate must be associated with their idea of “bourgeois democratic” revolution, and its significance therefore goes beyond agitating the population on racial grounds.

    The analysis is flawed. Instead of situating the Armenian reality in the general context of post-Soviet/Socialist transition (transition to market economy and democracy), an inherently unstable zigzag process, a transformation phase, with various manifestations of archaic economic and social phenomena such as corruption and oligarchy (common among most countries in transition including those who have already joined the EU such as Romania, Bulgaria, Baltic States), it perceives the Armenian reality as a complete and mature system, a closed and stagnant social order, with structural characteristics such as corruption and oligarchy.

    On the basis of such an analysis, the appropriate response cannot be participation in the system in order to exercise influence and push for reforms (play so called constructive opposition) but payqar, payqar for the complete overhaul of the system. The system cannot be reformed from within; it should be exposed, denounced, weakened and destroyed. This explains the radicalism and intransigency of the leadership and a movement that has got all the attributes of a typical revolutionary movement (symbols, songs, martyrs, prisoners, hidden leaders, etc.).

    We’ll see what kind of assessment the 2nd congress that is taking place today will provide.

  53. he system cannot be reformed from within; it should be exposed, denounced, weakened and destroyed. This explains the radicalism and intransigency of the leadership and a movement that has got all the attributes of a typical revolutionary movement (symbols, songs, martyrs, prisoners, hidden leaders, etc.).

    Another interpretation would be that unable to campaign on real policy issues (given that many of the ills inflicting Armenia are not specific and exist in other transitional countries and would take much more than a “revolution” to overturn), calling for the overthrowing the regime was the only option available to the opposition. This is particularly so given the inability of the population to understand why things can’t be resolved overnight. This was what happened in Georgia. Firstly, the Rose Revolution did not result in immediate changes and in some areas it has shows signs of regression. In order to appeal to the masses, Saakashvili has since had to walk a fine line between democracy and authoritarianism as well as populism and proper attempts to change a system firmly rooted in the legacy of a former Soviet republic as well as a local mentality that still doesn’t comprehend that corruption inflicts all walks of life or the importance of the rule of law (or indeed, that it also applies to them).

    Anyway, what matters most is that we embark on some path towards democratization. However, I don’t see Sargsyan or Ter-Petrossian able to lead that. On the other hand, the situation we now find ourselves in at least means we’re looking at how to achieve that. This wasn’t the case after the 2003 presidential election, for example. To what extent such a discussion or hope includes the population and how long it will last, however, remains to be seen. This is why I think the CE resolution is worth having as a basis for reform of the situation while not negating the need for internal political and civil society groups to keep the pressure on in order to achieve some kind of change.

  54. every word is about ltp!! what is there esle to OFFER? can anyone make a statement without his name? all that he did is his fault, all that others did was his fault, what is left? i don’t want to follow him, but will never follow a killer of my brothers, ever. so those that are anti-opposition: what to do in your opinion?

    God help me if you answer with ltp in your response…(who are the zombies???)

  55. re:”…nobody has ever found anything colorful to quote in their speeches…”

    I disagree. Robert Kocharian has had a number of colorful quotes in his speeches:
    – the barking Moska dogs (when describing the opposition);
    – the testicles being the biggest obstacles for a good dancer (describing the opposition);
    – the need to pull people’s ears (warning the opposition);
    – etc.

    You can’t deny that these, despite being very vulgar, are colorful quotes from presidential speeches.

  56. Azadakan, thank you for the information. You know what would have helped? If Armenia had had a free media, nobody would have had to try to guess what was meant. That’s why a lot of people came to the Square, to at least hear it first-hand. Everything else (with a few exceptions like Armenia Now, Hetq, and Onnik) was rumor, hearsay, and divination.

    Nazarian, I bow to your superior knowledge of the wit and wisdom of Robert Kocharian!

  57. […] Everything else (with a few exceptions like Armenia Now, Hetq, and Onnik) was rumor, hearsay, and divination.[…]

    I agree.

  58. I think Observer is having a deja vu. Did you ever get 60 responses? Wow. Certainly most of it is off the topic but I guess it will be hard to control it. Having said this, I, unfortunately have to reduce the number of excursion I take to your blog. As much as I like it , it just takes way too much time from me. But I do like the fact that discussions for long time now have been rather civilized and contained almost no (with one well known exception) abusive language. I’ll write my responses one by one.

  59. AH- I agree with you, LTP used that Tatar-Mongol thing intentionally. But please don’t become radical. When you argue with people who are as nice as Ani or even nazarian, if you slap on their face that LTP used hate language and etc you will only deepen the wounds that we have today. You let them know that cheap talk and abusive language is unacceptable, but I also think that after making this know, people like Ani and the ones like her deserve full respect for their opinions and others who disagree should try to argue with them in the same civilized way, without recalling the fact that LTP used this or that kind of language.

  60. Ani- I am not sure if I understand you point.

    […] Of course, LTP could have taken a more recent analogy from Armenian history, but he was avoiding offending Russia, and he was also trying to avoid Turkey, so it’s back to the 13th c. […]

    Offending is what Tatar-Mongol thing is, and that was my initial point. I think that usage of Tatar-Mongol is offensive. You seem to think the same. “offending Russia” seems to suggest just this.

    I don’t think Tatar-Mongol thing is racist comment. I think it is two things. Because one particular nation from a pool of many similar nations was singled out to imply a point, it becomes rather offensive to that nation. If you want me to draw an analogy, juts take that famous Pushkin line (I don’t want to repeat it here). The word Armenian for many neighboring Muslim nations means (meant probably is better here, I am not sure if it still) the same as Christian, and it is rather offensive when these nations refer to Christians as Armenians. This is one.

    Second, Tatar-Mongol attacks were the worst attacks Armenia has seen during its history. Basically, by many reports, and not only Armenian, Tatar-Mongol attacks left the country in complete destruction and devastation of unprecedented degree. Now, I know this, you know this, and everyone else who went school in Armenia knows this. Saying that this government is no different than our worse enemy in terms of ruthlessness is something clearly intended to create strong anti-government sentiments towards the ruling party.

    Also, there are many Tatar nations living in Georgia which has a large Muslim population. This is re to your point that we don’t have Tatar neighbors. And what exactly do you mean by neighbor?, you just need to cross few countries and get to Tatar Mongol states. But of course, this is really not important.

  61. nazarian- thanks for those little comments by Kocharian. I can only wish that you also admitted that many things that LTP and Pashinyan have said were just other examples of the same Doddisms. That way, your arguments or points would became more sound.

  62. Onnik and Observer. Keep up the good work! I really admire your energy and devotion that you put into this.

  63. The Mongols were actually friendly with the Armenians before they adopted Islam. I think it was Queen Tamar of Georgia in the Bagratuni dynasty with whom they made an alliance and sacked the center of Islam at the time, Baghdad. Mind you, I’m not saying this was a good move: Around the turn of the millenium, Baghdad produced knowledge and art far beyond its time (Avicenna, Ibn Sina), and once the Mongols & co. adopted Islam, they became far more fanatical, murderous, and intolerant toward Christians than the Arabs, who mostly taxed the “people of the book,” ever were.

    In any case, characterizing KGB-stooge Kocharian’s rule as a “Mongol/Tatar” rule is quite accurate. As far as its “hurting feelings” is concerned, it must be asked: Whose feelings? People who identify with Genghis Khan? Lame Timur? Who would identify with them? What politician would be stupid enough to invoke the name of a barbarian who is known for making mountains made of skulls? The Chinese kicked them out once, and the steppe people went West. They have a bad reputation all the way from China to Europe, and in place like Hungary, Bulgaria, and Serbia quite directly. If England, France, and Germany have anyone to thank for their success its Mongols & co. for wiping out the competition, the Magyars for stopping their advance, and the Arabs for transferring and expanding upon Greek philosophy, mathematics, and so on.

    Ter-Petrossian (and Pashinian) don’t make unconsidered statements. You can take that to the bank.

  64. I don’t think it is about hurting feelings as much as it is about promoting animosity in society. For sharp contrast to LTP’s style, look at real unifiers/leaders in history. Did Gandhi rally people to hate the British? Did Martin Luther King preach reverse racism?

    I don’t think Levon’s statement is ‘unconsidered.” I think it is part of his well-documented approach of LTP and his town-crier Pashinyan of dividing the Armenian nation, an approach replete with danger for our country – and nation – today.

  65. Grigor, I don’t think I insulted Ani or others personally here. And if I did, may they please accept my apologies. My recollecting what some politicians have said is not a “cheap shot” and is certainly not directed at any individual participant here. The rhetoric of hate (as coined by Onnik in his posting of Ishkhanyan’s timely piece a few weeks ago) is unfortunately the added spice in the political salad from the past few months, and bringing it up in context is simply documenting facts from the recent past (and present).

    If I were an LTP supporter, at the very least I would disavow this style, but the politics of “if you are not with me you are against me” leaves little maneuvering room for the segment of followers of LTP who do not condone such divisiveness.

  66. Back to the topic at hand, if Giragossian does reflect the view of the United States, I suppose it is very interesting to note what appears to be a policy shift. Assuming this is the same Richard Giragossian, he is listed by Wikipedia as being a liason officer for the CIA.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:VartanM/List_of_Names#Politics

    Maybe it’s a different one or they got the information wrong or someone put that there incorrectly? While I heard about U.S. State and Defense department links, this is the first time I have heard this. Seems quite weird, to be honest although again means that Giragossian’s analysis — change as it might — directly reflects US policy and opinion in the region.

  67. To bl:
    While I understand and share your frustration in many parts, I’d like to remind you that a notion of hatred is not genuinely Christian. The only way known to the whole Christian world in dealings with evildoers, the devil’s advocates, or the devil himself is forgiveness, in a broader sense of the word. Do not resist the evil person, says the Bible, love and bless your enemies, do not judge them in order not to be judged yourselves. By hating the anti-popular thugs, devil’s offsprings (of either camp, that doesn’t matter) who continue to rule our country and spread their primordial tastes and attitudes in the society, you only give power to them and indirectly prolong their existence. When Jesus charges to love our enemies, I think he means doing so, first of all, for our own sake: concerned people like you need to be ABOVE miserable, primitive, one-brain-cell, mercantile rulers. I think to forgive in Christian theology also means to ignore such people. Think for a moment: what could be more insulting to them that complete neglect and indifference on the part of ordinary people?

  68. To Onik:
    Dear Onik that’s not an official wikipedia page. That’s my subpage. Those names are the leftovers after a clean up of the List of Armenians articles. The official article was proposed to be deleted about 2 years ago.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/List_of_Armenians

    Thank’s to efforts of Wikiproject:Armenia team it was kept, after which I removed all the red linked names to that subpage.

    So the information there is unverified and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    Vartan

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