Monday, 17 March 2008
Armenia: Moving Forward?
On 5 March Armenia’s first president and leader of opposition movement Levon Ter-Petrosyan - who is effectively under ‘house arrest’ now - wrote an opinion piece for Washington Post - "Silence on Armenia".
Today it was a turn for prime-minister (‘president-elect’) Serj Sargsyan and his newly formed coalition partner, a former speaker of Armenian parliament, head of Orinats Yerkir party, and finally, the most famous fake oppositionist in Armenia Arthur Baghdasaryan. I provide a copy of their opinion piece (in full) titled “Moving Forward in Armenia” below. But before, some of my initial thoughts after reading it, directed to the authors.
You mention that “We have until Thursday, when the state of emergency is lifted, to find political solutions and ensure that Armenia does not slide back into chaos.” Honestly, I can’t see that government is engaged in finding a political solution. You can’t find a political solution by prosecuting your opponents for political reasons, shutting down independent and pro-opposition media, restricting civil liberties.
Yes, cooperation is a way forward, but not only with your own protégés (read Arthur Baghdasaryan & co). “The political alliance we have created, between the president-elect and the Rule of Law Party, is an effort to do things democratically and through compromise. Between us, we represent 70 percent of the votes of the Armenian people.” First, you do not represent 70% of votes, no sensible person trusts in fairness of presidential election. Of course, neither Ter-Petrosyan represents 65% of votes, as he claimed. On the other hand, votes given for Arthur Baghdasaryan were from people who voted for opposition to current government, and not for its protégé. Therefore, Arthur Baghdasaryan no longer represents people who voted for him, at least substantial proportion of them.
Consequently, this new, as you put it, “grand coalition” WILL NOT “guarantee that the people's will is reflected.”
You are making good points on “political dialogue”, that “Only a government with wide popular support, not one created through street violence, can successfully resolve these problems” - who would argue? But these are just words, without any actions which would substantiate your claims. People are tired of empty words. They do not trust words. It is a different society you are dealing with now. Sooner you understand it, the better it will be for Armenia.
What you need to do now is to read today’s declaration of Heritage party which provides clues for Armenia to move forward, for real.
*source of photo: Photolur, via A1+
Moving Forward In Armenia
By Serzh Sargsyan and Arthur Baghdasaryan
Monday, March 17, 2008
Armenia's reputation as a stable, democratic country in a troubled region has taken a battering recently. Although international observers gave an overall positive rating to the conduct of last month's presidential election, opposition forces took to the streets, seeking to overturn the people's will. Riots and armed demonstrations left more than 100 injured. Tragically, seven protesters and one police officer died.
Public faith in our economy and political institutions has been undermined. Simply put, we had a competitive election. Dragging this crisis on, literally through the streets, only hurts Armenia. For almost a decade -- since then-President Levon Ter-Petrosyan resigned -- our country has avoided civil uproars and armed violence, allowing for a period of internationally recognized democratic and socioeconomic progress.
But after he lost his bid to reclaim the presidency in February, Ter-Petrosyan resorted to a dangerous and profoundly undemocratic form of populism. He radicalized a part of the opposition and guided it into a standoff with the state, which led to the March 1 riots in which armed demonstrators confronted police. It was clear to all moderate political forces -- pro-government or supporters of the opposition -- that declaring a state of emergency was the only possible option to protect our citizens. We have until Thursday, when the state of emergency is lifted, to find political solutions and ensure that Armenia does not slide back into chaos.
The two of us were competitors in the presidential election. But we are united in our desire to end the current crisis and put Armenia back on track. Cooperation is the way forward.
The political alliance we have created, between the president-elect and the Rule of Law Party, is an effort to do things democratically and through compromise. Between us, we represent 70 percent of the votes of the Armenian people. This is a serious and solid mandate. On this basis, we will pursue ambitious but realistic reforms that will strengthen our democracy and our nation's socioeconomic progress. In this moment of crisis, we have agreed to assume responsibility for joint governance.
This form of government has not been imposed upon Armenia; we have chosen it as the best way forward. This new, grand coalition will guarantee that the people's will is reflected.
We insist, however, that continued progress is possible only through dialogue and reform. Violence has no place in democracy. Therefore, we ask those who are still promoting instability on the streets to join us in political dialogue and to help us guide our country toward prosperity.
Armenia faces a series of external challenges that we hope to address. First among them is the long-standing conflict over who should control the Nagorno-Karabakh region between our country and Azerbaijan; second is the normalization of relations with Turkey. Only a government with wide popular support, not one created through street violence, can successfully resolve these problems. We will also continue to ask the international community to recognize the Armenian genocide, though this issue should not prevent us from moving forward.
We do not assume that all of our country's ills will be solved through a coalition government. And we will certainly address the expectations of the several thousands of voters who are dissatisfied; we must do so to build consensus. But we must also recognize the expectations of the many more thousands of voters who chose the government that is in power. We will do our utmost to restore public trust in the electoral process and to unite the nation again.
Our priority is to run a transparent government and have a clear agenda, which we will announce. We will fight corruption head-on. We are confident that with the world's help, reason and responsibility will regain the upper hand in Armenia. We have no time to waste -- there is a lot of work to do. Despite recent events, our country is still moving forward. The international community has everything to gain through supporting a stable, transparent and elected government in Armenia.