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Monday, 7 April 2008

A Meeting Between Serj Sargsyan and Levon Ter-Petrosyan Is Inevitable (Hetq Online)

Very sensible article by Edik Baghdasaryan of Hetq Online. Recommend it. Edik Baghdasaryan discusses challenges faced by Serj Sargsyan and the only possible way out of this situation. I mainly share his views.
***

What will happen after Serzh Sargsyan takes the oath of the presidency on April 9th? Everyone is waiting with bated breath. In reality, the country’s future doesn’t interest the four political parties who signed the coalition government agreement. They are only interested to see what ministerial posts they can get their hands on. [...]

In these conditions, Serzh Sargsyan will not be able to govern the country. However adamantly the authorities maintain that all is normal, they will not be able to achieve this reality. Nothing can ever be normal here. The entire state structure is in a state of paralysis and limbo. The first stage commences on April 9th when President Kocharyan will no longer be able to issue commands.

On April 4th President Robert Kocharyan stated that, “The calling of special Parliamentary elections as a method to achieve dialogue is the most absurd idea ever proposed.” In reality, special elections are quite effective and probably the only legal means available to extricate the nation from the present situation. Kocharyan was absolutely against any negotiations with Levon Ter-Petrosyan. No one can state for sure whether Sargsyan agreed with Kocharyan on this stance or not. Contrary to Kocharyan, Sargsyan’s nature is to avoid conflict. The present President has always desired the presence of conflict. He feels comfortable operating in emergency situations, where he is able to make snap decisions on his own. He feels uncomfortable conferring with others, in hearing alternate opinions and discussing issues. In fact, Sargsyan shied away from entering into a debate with Kocharyan after the elections, preferring to leave Sargsyan to make decisions on his own till the very end of his term on April 9th. Those who know Sargsyan assert that he cannot last long in this state of affairs, as he prefers tranquility. The structures he has governed have always been in such periods of relative normalcy. He has always been able to smooth things over, to convince people to do the same. If the domestic political situation remains tense Sargsyan will be forced to voluntarily hand in his resignation. Physiologically, he won’t be able to withstand the pressure. [...]

Serzh Sargsyan is caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand he realizes that the country, especially the middle-class, expect him to push-through a series of core changes. On the other hand, however, Sargsyan understands that he won’t be able to make good on his promises since on one in the circle around him will support such changes. This circle is like a spider web where everyone is connected to one another by a series of threads. Sargsyan is not in a position to sever those threads. In official circles, the person mentioned as the most likely candidate to become the next Prime Minister is an individual who enjoys no confidence in the society. Of course, the choice of individual to become the next Prime Minister could go a long way to mollify domestic political tensions. The names of the one or two such candidates residing out side of Armenia whose selection might have achieved such a result were quickly ruled out. And there is little doubt that these potential candidates for the post were ruled out by individuals in Sargsyan’s camp.

The only alternative left for the next president to extricate the nation from the current situation would be for him to issue a halt to the political witch-hunts immediately after taking the oath office. The presidential directive should be entitled accordingly - the directive to halt politically motivated witch-hunts. Those responsible for the events of March 1st must be held accountable for their actions. What transpired at the Opera that morning must be thoroughly investigated? Who organized the operation? What exactly took place that resulted in the death of seven civilians and one policeman? Our society hasn’t been presented with the truth. No one, not even the rank and file policemen, know the circumstances in which one of their own was killed.

After releasing the members of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s campaign headquarters from prison, the President must meet with Ter-Petrosyan and discuss the possibility of holding special Parliamentary elections. The most logical scenario would be to hold such elections a year from now. This would present all sides the opportunity to prepare.

Serzh Sargsyan would thus be allowed ample time to implement the core changes he’s promised and if he wins over the confidence of the people the party he leads will once again win a majority of seats in the National Assembly. In this scenario he would have to emerge as the guarantor of truly free elections. For his part, Levon Ter-Petrosyan would be able to set-up the necessary structures and create a united front to ensure an election result allowing him to be a player in the Parliament’s decision-making process. Ter-Petrosyan would also be in a position to prepare for the next round of presidential elections.

Many might view this scenario as a bit overly romantic. Perhaps, I just don’t know. But all of us, without exception, understand that Armenia is neither the private property of either Serzh Sargsyan or Levon Ter-Petrosyan. If both these politicians truly care about Armenia they will do all in their power to halt the current process daily weakening the nation.

*picture - by Hetq Online

36 comments:

Onnik Krikorian said...

As we've discussed on this blog before, and as I've said constantly on mine, I think that new parliamentary elections are the main compromise and also, in the best interests of the country.

Not sure a year will be enough to prepare for them as there's a lot of rot in the system to sort out, but I consider that whenever there would be scheduled -- if they would, of course -- then a year or two, it doesn't matter.

They need to be held if only to counter the power of the presidency and also represent the electorate more fairly. Incidentally, someone might want to consider looking at the constitution as well. In Georgia, after a state of emergency is declared, new elections must be held a month later.

Under the constitution here, there is no such provision, but it strikes me that whether parliamentary or presidential, a new vote in a sense allows the people to determine what is the best solution to an inner political crisis that resulted in a state of emergency.

Yes, a LOT will need to be resolved first, but I think that many people inside AND outside would be interested in working hard to see that it is. Whether it will happen, I don't know, but I think that it's worth trying for.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Incidentally, with Hetq Online being very close to Alexander Arzoumanian and Saturday's call for early parliamentary elections by Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, in addition to Dallakian's suggestion, I would guess that the opposition would accept such a proposal.

The ball is firmly in the government's court now and I personally think it is the right way forwards for democratization in Armenia if the international community as well as society will take them as seriously as they should.

artmika said...

I am confident that the package proposal would be accepted by the opposition. Of course, as you said, lots of things need to be done to get to that stage (new parliamentary elections). Because we do not want elections for the sake of it, we need guarantees that they will pass free and fair. For that, we need institutional, structural, legislative changes and a package agreement which will include media freedom (key is TV here) as one of the most important components. Of course, independent investigation of March 1 events is an urgent necessity.

But yes, keys to the way forward is in government hands now. They have to stop restrictions of civil liberties and they have to urgently release all political prisoners. This will show that they are willing for a dialogue and this will make opposition’s step forward to engage in a dialogue inevitable.

HN said...

You all forget something.
Serj was never elected a president. Any decisions he makes will be illegal and any acknowledgment to those decisions by opposition will ratify them.
You also forget that he is responsible for crimes against humanity.
Realising the above and that he will not be able to hold for too long he still has three options: 1. on April the 9th instead of taking an oath he respects the victimes of March 1st and declares re-elections, 2. dissappears or 3.hands himself over.
If he declares himself a president on 9 April he will have one option - disappear, but believe me that wont take too long.
I give him two months, not more. He will not last longer than that, he has a very primitive mind.

Onnik Krikorian said...

HN, I would suggest that it would be a mistake to underestimate Serge. He may be short, he may look "simple" compared to Kocharian, but he didn't get to where he is by making mistakes that backfired on him. Beneath that less than assuming exterior, he's a chessmaster after all.

Incidentally, while I would agree that a compromise agreement with the opposition would "legitimize" his election, the fact is that there are few other options apart from another attempt at an uprising and I think this would a) be bloody again and b) fail.

Besides, the "legitimacy" is now already there through the constitutional court ruling and even the muted response from the international community. The U.S. will even be represented at the inauguration in the form of Bryza. In this part of the world, that's all that matters.

Besides, the mindset among the population before the 19 Feb vote was that he would be president by fair means or foul (and yes, probably the latter) and so it's not as if the majority don't look upon him as yet another president accepted and elected Armenian-style.

The low turn-out for the opposition walks let alone the rallies in Liberty Square before 1 March (you need hundreds of thousands and not tens of thousands) is indicative of that. Still, for the sake of the country I would hope both sides will compromise.

Anyway, a more representative parliament would anyway lessen presidential power significantly and also possibly set in motion for early presidential elections if another political crisis or major disagreement emerged. I think this is the only legal and constitutional way forwards now, in fact.

reflective said...

I doubt that such a meeting or (sadly) new extra-ordinary parliamentary elections will solve much.

Elections will be criticized by those who lose, regardless of the level of falsifications. This tactic was apparent, well-funded, and used by LTP's campaign 2 months ago.

Bad precedent, and waste of time and resources.

Lots can be changed in Armenia without wasting time like this. Instead of rallying behind leaders preaching hate and wishing to undermine the state, those dissatisfied should cultivate leader who have a positive message and work hard. Parliamentary elections are in less than 4 years.

While the quality of elections in Armenia leaves alot to be desired, I think the way out, while building some lasting change/precedent for the future is to work hard, and not run after quick-fix schemes, like running behind retreads like LTP who showed up a few months after a 10 year nap, or some other proven failure. Democracy building takes hard work.

Anonymous said...

Onnik,
Robert has said that the
"new parliamentary elections is the most absurd idea"
Why would Serzh agree to them,
especially since his party is in the majority.
Serzh will never accept this idea,
unless he is pressured into doing so by Levon.
I don't see how else these elections might ever happen

Anonymous said...

hn,
forutnately or unfortunately
he might last more than two months.
The bad part is that a weak and illegitimate government lead by him
is absolutely bound to fail in the Karabakh issue, both in terms of dyplomacy, and God forbid, war.
So, the question, to me, is not whether Serzhik will fall down, but
will he cause a damage to the KArabakh issue, which will be impossible to fix.
The UN decision and the stupid remark about ARmenian-AZeri conflict being an "conflict for control of land" in the Washington Post article are the 1st signs of the danger that Serzhik is gonna fuck up totally in the KArabakh case

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

Let me put hn's comments in a different way.

A mafia government is simply not acceptable. Remember Chauchesku? The people withstood him as long as they could, then they tore him limb from limb.

That is what is called for here.

There can be no compromise. The mafia can have some control, but not control of the presidency, the prosecutor general, what have you.

Who will say that the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Armenia can be a mob boss? Are you fucking kidding me?

There's no matter of compromise; there's no matter of dialogue here: NO MAFIA IN THE ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT. PERIOD.

Paykar minchev verj! Slime-bags out of government; guillotines on the ready!

FFS, think of what you are saying. You're saying that it's OK for the Prosecutor General to be a mob boss! Look at yourself in the mirror and say, "It's OK for the Prosecutor General to be a mob boss."

Come on, now!

Onnik Krikorian said...

The mafia can have some control, but not control of the presidency, the prosecutor general, what have you.

Well, they seem to have managed control for some time now. We're speaking like this is something new whereas in fact this has been the way it's been as far back as most people can remember.

The Dashnaks, for example, were reportedly not very happy with Aghvan Hovespian's recent period in the general prosecutor's office because of his role in prosecuting Dro under Levon.

Actually, this is the remarkable thing. All the names and issues are the same. It's representatives of the corrupt system against other representatives of the same system. There are no new names, no fresh ideas, no new visions.

Azg put it correctly, in my opinion and as an LTP-linked paper (Shamiriam etc) Chorrord Ishkhanutyun perhaps represents what the opposition realizes already. Serge is president, nothing is going to change that, so demands have to be more realistic:

“Azg” says that the March 1 tragedy in Yerevan has left Armenia in a “political, ideological and moral crisis.” “The reason for such political developments is a lack of faith and ideas and the absence of a real political field,” writes the paper, saying that both the current and former rulers of the country are to blame for that. It says President Robert Kocharian and his team “inherited a corrupt system” from Levon Ter-Petrosian’s administration and have “modernized” it over the past decade.

“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says the best way solve Armenia’s post-election crisis is to hold snap parliamentary elections. “Not only does the current parliament not reflect the correlation of Armenia’s political forces but has nothing to do with politics,” says the paper. “The parliament is now just a building where there are nicknamed people who speak bad Armenian and press some buttons from time to time.”


Anyway, I remember saying in 2003 that Kocharian will not survive his second presidential term after the falsification then. I was wrong, and I would say that Serge has all the instruments at his disposal to rule if he really wants to.

The question is whether he will want to always be remembered for coming to power on the back of such a crisis, or whether, even if only for ego's sake, he'd like to be remembered for something more substantial.

Besides, save for a violent uprising or massive repression which forces Armenia closer to Russia and becoming another Belarus, what other options are there? Really.

And I truly believe that whoever is president is hardly going to be democratic when the parliament is pretty much totally subservient. Indeed, I consider this to be more of a crucial issue that once resolved is more likely to set the basis for better elections in the future.

Yes, I know, a chicken and the egg situation. First the parliamentary elections would have to be democratic. ;-)

mayranoush said...

Maybe a pertinent issue for discussion should be why we have 'the same faces' all the time. Why are there no new faces in the political sphere? Perhaps this has to do with the nature of the political society in Armenia. Otherwise why after nearly two decades of independence we still have the same old faces such as Vazgen Manukyan, Raffi Hovannisian, Artashes Geghamyan and others over and over again. Where are the fresh and new faces, who have something new to say? Taking a pessimistic approach I would say that they are either too disillusioned or apathetic toward politics or that they are studying finance or economics in some Western university and they don't want anything to do with politics. Taking an optimistic position I would say that they are maturing and perhaps will come on to the political scene in a few years.

spm said...

I think some people here are very optimistic. Serj should have been defeated during elections. Now it will be extremely difficult to get rid of him. He got everyone in his pocket from police to the disgraceful katoxikos. And why do you think that current parliament members would allow new elections??? They may not doubt that will get "elected" again, but as reflective mentions it is waste of THEIR time and money.

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

Onnik,

The inevitability of Russian influence in Armenia is one thing, the manifestation of that influence as support for Goons is another.

The Russians have done Armenia a lot of good, albeit with their own interests in mind. I'm for continuing the relationship, but with one main limit: No more mob bosses.

The KGB is looking out for Russia's interests, just like the CIA. Neither the CIA, nor the KGB, have a vested interest in supporting corruption: Their goal is to look out for their countries' own interests. That's acceptable. But when they get lazy, and they support people who are unacceptably corrupt, then they have to deal with the backlash from the general population, who would tolerate their presence, but not at the cost of having to live under violent, boorish goons.

Armenians need to stand up and say that we are not going to put up with this bullshit anymore. Enough is enough.

This isn't 1984. Armenia can get aid from even China. The KGB needs to get its shit together.

reflective said...

Disgraceful "Serj should have been defeated" during the elections...by whom? An equally (I would argue by an even more) disgraceful Levon???

Show me the grace!

In hate speach? In closing down parties? In ushering in sham elections? Sham(iram) opposition? Controling the media? Political violence? Oligarchs?

What is graceful about this disgrace?

And LTP supprters expect to ride this rhetoric into victory?? It is embarrassing.

For all those truly interested in such change in Armenia, ignore delirious calls for violence, and work to build something in society. This kind of positive change is difficult but lasting. Mafia doesn't just vanish. The ground needs to be made fertile, even in loess-than-ideal conditions. And this takes work, not hysteria a few weeks before an election.

Onnik Krikorian said...

And why do you think that current parliament members would allow new elections??? They may not doubt that will get "elected" again, but as reflective mentions it is waste of THEIR time and money.

Well, that's a good point, and I don't disagree which is why I said the ball is firmly in the government's hands. Do they want to seek a compromise or not.

Anyway, yes, any calling of new parliamentary elections would have to be done according to the constitution so it might not even be possible if MPs themselves don't agree.

Like I said, I think that the provision in the Georgian constitution about having to call elections after a state of emergency is declared is there for a reason. Still, I suppose that can even be manipulated for political purposes.

Well, let's look upon this situation as a test Armenia has to take now. Let's see how well it does -- or not as the case may be.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Or, of course, we could just move on and look to address the many outstanding problems in the hope they can be partially or fully fixed by the time of the next scheduled parliamentary election by May 2008. Three years doesn't sound like such a long time, to be honest, and if nobody can agree to compromise I daresay that this is how the situation will now pan out.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Can't remember if I said 2008 or 2011 for the next parliamentary election. Anyway, I meant 2011 if I put 2008.

artmika said...

Without radical solutions NOW, I cannot see any good prospects for Armenia by 2011.

artmika said...

And here is the proposal forwarded by the International Crisis Group:

To avoid a crisis of legitimacy and the concomitant political instability, the Armenian authorities should:

- release persons detained due to their political activity and cease arrests and threats against the opposition, including against the runner-up in the 19 February election, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian;
- authorise an independent investigation, with international participation, into the 1 March violence and follow through on the pledge to punish police officers who illegally used weapons against civilians;
- revoke the amendments to the law on freedom of assembly adopted during the emergency rule and allow peaceful protests in locations where they will not cause a threat to public order;
- lift remaining media restrictions and refrain from new restrictions on the media or access to the internet;
- investigate claims of violence and attacks against political party vote monitors at polling stations and initiate criminal proceedings against perpetrators; and
- pursue a credible dialogue process with the opposition in an effort to lower political tensions.

To defuse tensions, the Armenian opposition should:

- agree immediately and without preconditions to enter into dialogue with the government;
- impress upon supporters that protests which aim to stir unrest, such as blockading government buildings and impeding the work of government ministries, will not be condoned; and
- appeal the Constitutional Court’s decision on the elections to the European Court of Human Rights and consider the same course with respect to other court decisions when all domestic remedies are exhausted.

To facilitate a way out of the impasse, the EU and U.S. should:

- encourage all major Armenian political forces to engage in direct negotiations to find ways to defuse tensions and speed reconciliation; and
- deliver clear messages to the Sarkisian administration that business as usual will not be possible until serious steps are taken to reconcile the Armenian polity as well as to address the root causes of the current instability.

If the government does not take credible steps to implement the measures recommended above and if arrests of opposition members continue:

- the EU and U.S. should suspend foreign aid;
- the Council of Europe should consider suspending Armenia’s membership; and
- the U.S., EU and EU member states should consider, especially if there is more violence, initiating a diplomatic embargo on visits by President Sarkisian and senior officials of the security services.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Well, I'm not sure the international community shunning Sargsyan would do anything other than push Armenia more towards Russia. Indeed, for this reason, such action is never usually taken with regards to countries even by the CE.

However, all the demands/suggestions/whatever they are seem reasonable and again, the basis for both sides to now sit down, negotiate and compromise for the sake of the country. If both give a damn about Armenia it is the only reasonable way forwards.

Anything else isn't going to help at all and will only destabilize Armenia more at a time when it really can't afford such instability. The main thing, however, is that both need to want to resolve the situation.

Unfortunately, however, that is the main question that remains unanswered.

hn said...

Well I should disagree with Onnik.
I never said that Serj is not cleaver. He is cleaver but in a different way. He can do all sort of tricks as any successful mafia boss (wacking people, putting people into jail, blackmailing, stealing and all other that sort of stuff) but on other areas he won't manage.
I know people who met him on higher levels. He never shined. As one of the people told me when Serj was meeting some delegates he was arrogant, you could see that lots of things were going in his head, his eyes were restless but he couldnt make any point in the meeting, he couldnt even create a communication and understanding.
It was obviouse that his mind all that time was working on how to do things in a different way, in a slimy way.
I have met some mafia bosses many years ago and sat on the same table with some of them. The description of Serj totally fits to my experience with those mafia bosses.
By the way none of those bosses are alive now, all of them were shot.

yervand said...

OK lets say there are going to be new parlament elections.. and what then????

what is going to happen during that elections??? same terror same intimidation same falsificatins!!!!!!!

is this going to help???

you are so romantic.new elections...as if we ever had any elections now you are calling for the new elections??!!!

the whole point of rallies was for having free elections!!!!!

is it that difficuklt to understand that ll people where fighing and still are fighting for having free elctions!!!>??


but what you are saying is that ok lets accept serz after such terror and then lets go for new elections ??
are you kidding??

one must be so unrealistic at least to think that any new elections after all this would solve anything??

falsifications, protest and new killings of protesters (bomzs) are going to happen!!!

wake up people...most of the particpants here live their life without knowing what the most of people feel living in armenia!!!

powerty injustice intimidation an fear that is what is being the relaity in nowdays armenia and you are caling for new elections and see this as solution for problems??!!!!

yervand said...

HN-

i hope you had met serz too!

nazarian said...

Please keep in mind that in 1996 Serj recommended to shoot at the protesters. I'm quite sure he recommended to shoot at the people on March 1 as well.

hn said...

No I didnt meet Serzh but I wish I could meet him in a very quiet place.
People like Onnik dont know him well.
A human being has no value for him. He gunned down quite a few unarmed people in an execution style.

artmika said...

I am not sure how credible the following info is, but relevant anyway.

According to Caucaz.com , "Unconfirmed reports suggest that the political teams of Sarkisian and Ter-Petrosian are holding negotiations. The nature of relations between the two political heavyweights will likely come into focus only after Sarkisian is inaugurated on April 9."

Onnik Krikorian said...

Firstly, we don't know that Serge was in favor of gunning anyone down in 1996. We only have Levon's word for that and I'm sorry, I don't put much value in that.

As for "knowing" Serge, I don't think anything you have said since your initial statement contradicts what I have. That is, don't underestimate him. Indeed, I would consider that to be a grave mistake.

Incidentally, HN, I have been speaking to some foreigners who have met with him recently, and strangely enough, how you describe him is pretty much how they summed him up to.

As for elections or no elections then I think it's very simple. The struggle for the 19 February presidential election was one that Serge was never going to lose.

This especially became the case as soon as Levon (in September?) started to make this a personal battle and one that meant neither could afford to lose. As it happened, the opposition lost that round and they show no sign of being able to counter-attack.

So, given that the constitutional and legal methods are exhausted and that any attempt to stage street protests to force him out of office are going to fail (sorry, but that's how I see it), I'd suggest its time to now work within what are legal and acceptable confines which this time would have the backing of the international community.

I've already stressed that the matter still is to hold better elections (I don't believe we'll ever see truly "democratic" elections in Armenia whoever is in power for some time, but I can hope they are conducted significantly better.

This is now what people need to work towards. And I stress NOW -- not 6 months before the next election when the next round of USAID and other international money is made available to civil society.

As for being "unrealistic" about new parliamentary elections it has to be pointed out that backing for this idea doesn't just come from me. It also comes from Artmika too.

More significantly, it also comes from Victor Dallakian (independent but opposition MP), Edik Baghdasarian (close associate and friend of Alexander Arzumanian), and Chorrord Ishkhanutyun (LTP-linked newspaper).

I think this in itself is that Levon's team are now starting to push for this option. The names calling for new parliamentary elections are either a) strong opposition figures in parliament with a significant knowledge of how to play the system (Dallakian), those closely but indirectly linked to Levon's team (Edik Baghdasarian and Hetq) and those directly part of Levon's campaign team (Chorrord Ishkhanutyun).

It's therefore somehow ironic that in addition to opposing a key demand of Levon's team (an independent inquiry) those supporting him outside of Armenia are actually now opposing what might be a key part of a new strategy by his people on the ground.

Onnik Krikorian said...

I am not sure how credible the following info is, but relevant anyway.

Artmika, if you remember I heard speculation about this on the day of the constitutional court ruling which I posted on your blog.

Basically, a senior foreign representative said he and others assumed that this was happening because of two main facts.

i) Levon Ter-Petrossian was silent (and this is especially true because since the ruling he has continued to stay silent and has even turned down interviews with major international journalists who came to Armenia afterwards).

ii) Contrary to much rumor and gossip mainly spread by Levon's supporters, Ter-Petrossian and his major associates are not disputing the 8 dead figure for the 1 March clashes.

If true, both realities were seen as a way to slowly wind down the tension from the opposition side during what admittedly was still speculation that the two sides are actually negotiating even if in private and still as of yet unknown ways.

Anonymous said...

this part of the ICG recommendations is really strong!
The Armenian beaurocracy lives off
European and American aid, if this channel is cut, there will be panick in the state apparatus.
And Serzh won't be able to travel to Europe and US to play in his favorite casinos.
so this might really help.
But I don't see this happening


"the EU and U.S. should suspend foreign aid;
- the Council of Europe should consider suspending Armenia’s membership; and
- the U.S., EU and EU member states should consider, especially if there is more violence, initiating a diplomatic embargo on visits by President Sarkisian and senior officials of the security services."

yervand said...

Atrmiak why are you silent about happenings in Hrazdan and overall people going on hunger strike!!?? I thought it is worth talking about, making it loud while people are on hunger strike and being arested evn for doing that!

Anonymous said...

Nazarian,
good point about Serzhik's position in 1996.
I also remember a disgusting message from Robert, then the presdient of NKR, saying that this was a coup d'etat and they support the "legitimate president LTP".
And, no matter how sad the situations is, I can't help noting how ironic it is that Levon has been defeated by the same people and the same methods that he used to stay in power in 1996.
(Which doesn't mean I support the dictatorship of RK and SS, Levon,
with all his mistakes, is still a million times better for Armenia than these komsomol workers)

artmika said...

To Yervand (off-topic, sorry!):

Yervand, hunger strikes and Hrazdan events are reasonably well covered in Armenian media such as A1+ and Radio Liberty, and some others too. I do not have much to add for now. Just because I do not write about something, does not make me “silent”. Blogging is a different type of activity. I normally write about something which is not covered properly, or not covered at all, or in case I want to add or stress something... Now that media blackout is over, most of the daily news are covered by online media outlets as it should be.

Haik said...

Serj has no chance of staying in power for too long and he knows that very well. He knew that all along but because he is arrogant, he ignored his gut feeling. Actually he didnt have much choice, his crimes are so sever that at best he would end up in the Hague.

His regime shows major cracks everyday.
I was told that there are many jailed policemen because they disobeyed the orders and didnt attack the protestors. There are many army officers who also disobeyed / ignored the orders.
Revolution is a time taking process ( and yes from Feb 19th we have a revolution in Armenia).
Another 2-3 rallies and all will be over.

Comeing to negotiations I dont think there are any.
Read the latest joint statment by the opposition parties/orgs here.
http://www.payqar.org/am/80/item/429/

spm said...

Onnik and NH, I agree with NH that Serj mentality is pretty much of a mafia boss. RK I think is bolder in a way that he may change the law to suit his needs, but Serj seems constantly thinking how to outmaneuver the law. Also dont forget that they both were communist functionaries during Soviet time under Azerbaidjani structures. Thats what LTP calls mongol tatar methods and I can not agree more.
As for meeting the guy in person, I have not, but I personally know a very influential Armenian, who knows SS personally, and his account of meeting Serj in Monte Carlo, after a long night of gambling is absolutely disgraceful.

artmika said...

Human Rights Watch

Armenia: Sargsian Should Restore Rights

Swift Action Needed in Post-election Crisis


(New York, April 8, 2008) – Following his inauguration on April 9, Armenia’s new president Serzh Sargsian should investigate last month’s violence and take other decisive steps to address the human rights crisis in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch urged Armenia’s international partners to help the country meet its international commitments and get it on track to democratic development.

Sargsian takes office after winning the February 19 presidential elections, which the opposition said were marred by fraud. Several weeks later, violent clashes between opposition demonstrators and security forces left at least eight people dead and hundreds injured.

“The new Armenian leader is facing serious challenges,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “He should take decisive steps to investigate the excessive use of police force and lift restrictions on freedom of assembly.”

On February 20, tens of thousands of supporters of opposition presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian took to the streets in the capital Yerevan to denounce the declared election results that brought Sargsian to power. They held peaceful protests for 10 days on Yerevan’s Freedom Square, with some camping out overnight.

Human Rights Watch has documented how, on the morning on March 1, 2008, Armenian security forces moved in to disperse the peaceful demonstrators. Later that day, some demonstrators and security forces clashed violently, which resulted in at least eight deaths, including one security official, and hundreds of injuries. The same night, President Robert Kocharian declared a state of emergency and imposed serious restrictions on civil liberties, including a complete ban on public rallies. Police arrested some 100 people and charged them with the attempted violent overthrow of the government, organizing mass disorder, resisting police, and other criminal offenses. Human Rights Watch documented serious due process violations during and after arrest, including denying them a lawyer and ill-treatment in police custody. Security officials censored newspapers and prohibited the opposition media from publishing.

Just before lifting the state of emergency on March 21, 2008, the Armenian National Assembly passed amendments to the law on public assembly that severely restricts public gatherings, a move criticized by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Human Rights Watch considers the amendments incompatible with Armenia’s obligations to respect freedom of assembly under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The government denied numerous opposition requests to hold public rallies, and Human Rights Watch documented the brief detention of at least 90 people who participated in peaceful “public walks” organized by political opposition supporters.

A broader crackdown on opposition supporters included repeated harassment and interrogations of opposition candidate representatives in the regions, tax audits of opposition-owned businesses and pro-opposition press, and dismissing opposition supporters and their family members from their jobs.

“Armenia’s new president has a chance to start with a clean slate,” said Cartner. “This is an opportunity to restore Armenia’s tarnished image, and Sargsian should not miss it.”

Human Rights Watch recommends that Sargsian take the following steps to address the post-election human rights crisis in Armenia:

- Investigate alleged excessive use of force by police on the morning of March 1, 2008 and later during the day;
- Ensure that such investigation is in accordance with Armenia’s obligations under the ECHR by accepting international expertise and assistance to ensure independence and the public’s trust;
- Stop arbitrary detentions and provide full due process rights to all detainees from the moment of their apprehension;
- Investigate all allegations of ill-treatment during arrests and in police custody, and release those who have been arbitrarily detained for alleged participation in unlawful demonstrations;
- Lift extensive restrictions on freedom of assembly by repealing the amendments to the public assembly law; bring the amended law into line with the European Convention on Human Rights; and follow recommendations provided by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission and the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; and
- Stop harassment of the press and opposition supporters, including detentions, repeated interrogations, dismissals, and usage of tax audit as a political tool for pressure.

The United States, European Union, and Armenia’s other international partners should set clear benchmarks for the country’s new leadership, taking above-mentioned steps as preconditions for future cooperation and assistance. This would allow the country to get back on track on democratic development and in line with its international commitments.

Anonymous said...

Haik,
I think the picture you painted is a bit too optimistic (or pessimistic if one is a Serzhik/Muk/Dod sympathizer),
but there is a point in what you saying.
Many people think that MArch 1, was an attempt of revolution, which failed. Actually, I think it was the beginning of a revolution.
Something similar to Bloody Sunday in Russia in 1905. So, there's no doubt that the regime will fall.
The question is that they can still fuck up things in the country, before they are swept away.