Garbis: Opposition’s Demands Met: Now What?

The three demands of the Armenian National Congress put before the government—namely the release of all “political prisoners,” the right to hold public rallies at Liberty Square, and a new (although fruitless) investigation into the events of March 1, 2008 that left 10 people dead— have now all been surprisingly met. The most popular jailed activists associated with the opposition, “Haykakan Zhamanak” newspaper editor Nikol Pashinian and Sasun Mikaelian, were finally released on May 27 after a general amnesty was approved by the parliament. President Serge Sarkisian’s accommodation was not necessarily expected, yet it can be viewed as a strategic move to woo the favor of voters for the parliamentary elections in 2012, followed by his expected bid for the presidency in 2013. His outreach is also a perfect and timely way to appease Europe and the U.S., which have both been calling for systematic reforms and the implementation of democratic norms in Armenia.

Sasun Mikaelian, one of the released opposition leaders.

By placating the critics, the Armenian government is demonstrating that not only does it hold a heavy hand, but that it can also be sympathetic to those who are dissenting. Now the Armenian National Congress, headed by former president Levon Ter-Petrosian, is slated to hold “talks” with the authorities in the near future, the outcome of which is subject to speculation. With these gestures, the government is essentially exhibiting its God complex—omnipresent and despotic, yet forgiving.

Now, questions as to how the authorities will further subdue the opposition hover. Several probable variants can be considered, among them:

1. The Armenian National Congress represented by Ter-Petrosian in closed meetings negotiates with the Sarkisian Administration. In a gesture of goodwill, the president extends an olive branch to his archrival and offers him the position of prime minister and the formation of a super-coalition, bringing friends and foes together on the same team. Ter-Petrosian accepts his offer. Ter-Petrosian’s die-hard supporters follow his lead and join him in the government, while staunch oppositionists are left betrayed and isolated. The Congress in its current form collapses and the opposition becomes confused and disorganized. Sarkisian promises the Congress leaders that its faithful will win parliamentary seats in the upcoming elections, fairly or not. The ARF-Dashnaktsutiun prays for a Kocharian comeback, hoping to regain its ministerial seats should he be reelected with its unwavering support, while the Heritage Party continues its boycott of the state of affairs.

2. As in point 1, the Congress leaders and Ter-Petrosian join the government, leaving the opposition fragmented and reeling from a concussion. Then, the ARF- Dashnaktsutiun—in a blinding, sublime revelation and a renewed comprehension of its party values and modus operandi—decides to pick up the ball dropped by Ter-Petrosian. The party rallies its dormant disenchanted followers who are still wondering why the organization never became a powerful political force in Armenia since its party leaders were freed from jail by their savior Robert Kocharian days after he first became president. Dashnaktsutiun reaches out to Heritage party and puts aside whatever bad blood existed between them related to who is more faithful to the universal Armenian cause. As a result of a tremendous amount of hard work—substantially more than either party has ever undertaken—their opposition alliance rivals the popularity previously garnered by Ter-Petrosian. The Dashnaktsutiun, realizing it has no charismatic leaders to speak of, supports Raffi Hovhanisian in his bid for the presidency. Members of both parties are harassed by the authorities and some are even beaten and jailed, but their dedication to the integrity of the Armenian state and its citizens does not waiver. The people are ecstatic. The blindsided authorities are marginalized and the opposition wins the majority of seats in parliament; in 2013, Hovhanisian is elected president and the ARF heads the government. Then the new authorities begin cleaning house: They break the monopoly on imports enjoyed by the oligarchic families; the rampant corruption that had infested the tax, customs, and police departments is virtually eradicated; and the prices of goods and services begin to stabilize. The rule of law is enforced throughout the republic and for the first time in the country’s post-Soviet history the courts rule independently. Countless thousands of emigrants return home, and frustrated businessmen from the Armenian Diaspora are invited to reinvest in Armenia, with the former red-tape strewn processes of establishing corporations streamlined and tax collection transparent.

3. Talks break down between the Congress and the authorities. With the renewed charismatic calls by firebrand opposition cheerleader Pashinian, ever-smitten with Ter-Petrosian, the Congress wins an overwhelming number of parliamentary seats despite the elections being marred by irregularities and fraud, yet they remain an unquestionably sizable minority. The Heritage and ARF-Dashnaktsutiun parties retain their modest number of seats but remain undermined by the pro-government coalition, while the arrogant Congress leadership continues to mock them as being insignificant players not part of the “real opposition,” insisting that the parties should have joined them rather than being obstinately opposed. The Congress shows its thanks to Sarkisian for refraining from cracking down on its supporters by backing away from fielding a presidential candidate to challenge his reelection (so long as Congress leaders are promised a couple of seats in the government in a display of unity). The rift between Dashnaktsutiun and Heritage is never repaired, and both parties remain without influence, their members twiddling their thumbs during parliamentary sessions. Sarkisian, with the support of both the “real opposition” and the pro-government coalition, slides to victory.

Although these predictions may seem fantastic, perhaps even preposterous to some, they are no less credible than the blowhard forecasts printed on the opinion pages of daily Armenian newspapers. But my point should be obvious: In Armenian politics, anything and nothing can be expected.


Christian Garbis

Christian Garbis is a writer and experimental filmmaker born and raised in Greater Boston. He received his BA in English and Certificate in Film Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has been contributing to the Armenian Weekly since 1994 and has served as an assistant editor for the paper. He lives in Yerevan with his wife and son and maintains two blogs documenting his impressions: Notes From Hairenik and Footprints Armenia. His first novel is partly based on his experiences in Armenia.


  1. Not only are these predictions fantastic but childish as well, especially point number two.  There is a good reason why the ARF does not work with Heritage, and it has a lot to do with who’s interests Raffi works for, it ain’t Armenia’s I can tell you that much.  Furthermore, all the talk about breaking the oligarchic system is nice and dandy but do you really expect it to occur without a true shift in the mindset of Armenians living in Armenia?  For the past 20 years the people of the RoA have become used to a do as can do lifestyle and while some vocal sections may cry out for positive change in the country, many of these same people are the ones that break the law themselves, whether it is crossing the street when the walk sign is not flashing or finding new ways to evade paying taxes. 

    Kocharyan and Sargsyan are not rivals and if that persona is being put out it is a ruse.  The two men have had a working relationship for over 20 years, do you realize how much dirt they have on one another?  Do you think they would really compete against one another when the risk is so large?  No, Serj will win the next elections, Robert won’t be running and the last person we need as President is Raffi.

    The oligarchic systems needs to go as fast as possible, but it is an evolutionary process that encompasses the whole Armenian nation, especially those living in Armenia.  And it should be noted that the oligarchs will not disappear since oligarch is really a derogatory term for the uber wealthy.  The US has a lot of those btw.

  2. “Serj will win the next elections”.   Correction, AR:  Serj will re-elect himself in the next elections even if the majority of electorate will vote against him.

  3. Armen:

    That’s the only thing you took out of the whole post?  If the people in Armenia are so politically immature to vote for someone like ltp or even Raffi than Serj had better ‘take’ the presidency. 

  4. AR,

    Is “taking” the presidency the only thing you take out of the whole notion of democratic governance? To vote for a chosen person is the constitutional right of the people and you are nobody to tell your nation whom they should cast their ballots for. If the people showed “politically immaturity” by electing an undeserving president, it is upon them to correct their own mistake. 2008 voting for LTP was not so much voting for the individual who brought grief and destitution upon Armenians in the early 1990s, but against lawlessness, corruption, and clan system created by his current contender.

    Have more confidence towards your owm people, AR, or go live under Serj’s regime. I’d be curious to know what tune you’ll be singing in a couple of months…

  5. Democratic governance is fine and dandy when your country is NOT located in a geopolitical fault zone.  Armenia needs political evolution, not a cia backed revolution.

    Maybe you should spend more time reading up on geopolitics in the Caucasus and the wider region before you start singing the tune of ‘western style democracy’.     I can assure you my tune will not be different in a few days or few months.

  6. AR,

    Enlighten us as to how Armenia’s location in a geopolitical fault zone affects, for example, an apparatchik taking bribes or appointing narrow-minded provincials to high governmental posts or a presidential contender stuffing ballot boxes to his advantage.

    “Armenia needs political evolution, not a cia backed revolution.” Never touched upon this subject, but fully agree. I only think that political evolution should be supported by legitimate rulers, professionals, public-spirited individuals, not thugs. Thugs lead the country to backwardness not evolution.

    I am spending a lot of time reading up on geopolitics in the Caucasus and the wider region. I also have an advantage in this as compared to you: I actually LIVE in the Caucasus. But you’d need, again, to expand as to how, since you’re so knowledgeable of geopolitics in the Caucasus and the wider region, this geopolitics affects, for example, an apparatchik taking bribes or an ordinary citizen being unable to defend his or her rights.

    Never touched on ‘western style democracy.’ But agree with you. I touched upon democratic governance. Any word “western” that you see here?

  7. Armen:

    You are trying to link the major with the minor, not gonna work.  Do you honestly believe that corruption will go away if raffi or ltp comes to power?  Do you think corruption does not exist in the West or whatever paradigm you wish Armenia to follow?

    Corruption is a cultural value that has become ingrained into the fabric of Armenian society since the time of Brezhnev.  See my first comment where I said that Armenians need to begin obeying the laws themselves.

    Assuming you do live in Armenia, means that you have become jaded based on your responses above.  I may not live in Armenia, but I am there at least once a year and can see the positives along with the negatives, while you and far too many others, for whatever reason(s), wish to discredit the Armenian government at any forum which you can find.  Continue to act as if the current government has done no good, and continue to think that politics is a clean game, but you’ll only be fooling yourself.  

    ” supported by legitimate rulers, professionals, public-spirited individuals, not thugs”

    How many people in Armenia really fit this mold?

  8. Bravo, AR (not to be confused with the other AR on this forum).
    Yes, Armenia needs political evolution not a CIA sponsored revolution! And president Serj Sargsyan has been the finest president Armenia has yet had. If Robert Kocharyan was an improvement over Levon, Serj Sargsyan is an improvement over Robert Kocharya. No matter how one looks at it, even with all his faults, Sargsyan is the manifestation of political progress in Armenia today. The man means well. He is a nationalist. He has institutionalized Armenia’s crucial alliance with Russia. He has deepened Armenia’s very important relations with Iran. He has kept good relations with EU and the US. Armeniaa’s/Artsakh’s borders have never been more secure. And now, he has effectively defanged the destructive opposition in the country, thereby lessening political tensions and seriously weakening the Levon camp. The man is a brilliant strategist. He is laying the foundations of a stable/powerful nation-state; and this progress is taking place against all odds. The recent mayoral change is a good example of what I am referring to.
    Too bad that a majority of Armenians today are politically immature and/or blind to see any of this. Please realize that a significant portion of Armenians, regardless of their wealth or education, are self-destructive peasants by nature. Armenia is a very long way from having an effective democracy. The idea that the ignorant masses can effectively rule themselves, especially in an embattled nation that finds itself in a serious geopolitical fault-line scares the crap out of me. Democracy as preached by Western officials and Western NGOs is the corrosive tool with which the Western alliance destabilizes and undermines targeted nations. Due to Armenia’s situation in the Caucasus, Western style democracy could prove suicidal for the fledgling republic.

  9. AR,

    I am not trying to link the major with the minor. I am trying to invite you to explain how the major (in your view: Armenia’s location in a geopolitical fault zone) is linked to the reasons why tens of thousands continue to flee the regime: i.e. deterioration of socio-economic conditions, lawlessness, inherent governmental corruption, monopolization of market, absence of perspectives for civil society, etc. In contrast to a few Serj apologists on these pages, I emphasize the living conditions of my people as the major and Armenia’s location in a geopolitical fault zone as the minor, not the other way round. You need to put your home in order first in order to be able to fend off the outside threats. This has not been done either under Serj or under his predecessors. Please do not reduce yourself by implying I could be LTP or Bobby’s apologists: all these rulers were not popular rulers and essentially represent the same cohort with the current one. Therefore, I don’t think that corruption will go away if Raffi or LTP comes to power. But neither do I think that Serj is the one that differs considerably from these individuals. He is part of the notorious clan system, hence the criticism that so many people direct at him.

    No, I do not think corruption does not exist in the West. I think corruption that exists in the West does not essentially affect the lives of ordinary people. In Armenia, it does. The argument that corruption is a cultural value that has become ingrained into the fabric of Armenian society since the time of Brezhnev is foolhardy. By the same value it must have been ingrained in all other former Soviet republics. But when you decide to visit Armenia next year do please make an adjustment to your itinerary and visit neighboring Georgia. Make a minor traffic violation and try to bribe a policeman. See what happens. He will not take the bribe, as will most of the bureaucrats. Why? Because however odious Saakashvili may be, he was able to uproot the corruption in the country.

    I am far detached from the business of discrediting the government. I could care less about those sons of b****. I only care about the conditions my people have to endure in order to survive under them. If the current government, as you say, has done good, let’s discuss, if you can (because you’re an occasional tourist and I’m the one who live in Armenia), as to what it is that you know has improved their lives and millions of people don’t? Prices were lowered? Foreign currency rates are favorable for the population? Pensions have dramatically increased? Jobs have been created? Inflation lowered? Emigration stopped? Basic civil rights can now be protected by the authorities? What is it that you say was done good that affects the lives of ordinary people? Lay it out…

    “How many people in Armenia [legitimate rulers, professionals, public-spirited individuals, not thugs] really fit this mold?” Why, AR, former or current regimes allowed anyone who could fit this mold to raise their heads without fear that they be chopped off? It‘s utterly cynical of you to make such a statement knowing too well that regimes safeguard themselves from such public-spirited people.

  10. Armen: re: “Because however odious Saakashvili may be, he was able to uproot the corruption in the country.”

    Main, maybe only reason, Saakashvili was able to do so was/is because the wealthy West pumps several hundred million annually into social programs alone into Georgia, including massive funds for cops
    Some estimates are that alltogether, including black funds,  Georgia gets about
    US$ 2 Billion Annually from the West.
    Georgia is a test-case for the NATO/West in the Caucasus: they’ll pull all stops to make sure she stays in the Western camp, and is a ‘shining’ example for Armenia to follow.

    When an Armenian Police Officer has 2-3 kids and and wife to feed, and does not get enough of a salary – he is highly susceptible to bribes.
    When a Georgian Police Officer  has a high enough salary  to support his family comfortably – no incentive to take bribes and risk jail time.

    BTW: Armenia gets something like US$40-50 million @ year from US in total aid.

  11. Avery,

    Your point is understood, but not taken. Georgia gets about US$2 billion annually from the West, and Armenia gets $40-50 million? Good for Georgia. Under these circumstances couldn’t Armenian rulers—who consider themselves the brightest and the smartest on Earth—think of how to compensate this gap to an optimal degree? Maybe by means of eradication of tax evasion or by restraining semiliterate oligarchs from having castles, dachas, and luxury cars and directing rescued funds toward the infirm, like the police?

    “When an Armenian police officer has 2-3 kids and wife to feed, and does not get enough of a salary – he is highly susceptible to bribes.” How about the bulk of the population, where families have 2-3 kids and wives? Where would they get enough of salary or jobs?

    I hate it when domestic problems are explained by extraneous reasons only.

  12. Bravo, Avery. Georgia has received tens of billions of dollars in assistance (mostly in loans) from her allies – including but not limited to US, EU, Israel, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia. The two billion dollars you referred to is just disclosed aid Tbilisi receives from Washington alone. Georgia is the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance’s experiment meant to drive Russia out of the Caucasus. Nevertheless, the house of cards Saakashvili built will come crashing down sooner than later.

  13. There are a number of reasons why Armenians immigrate.  One of them is because too many Armenians are not patriots but rather the typical big talking ‘proud Armenians’.  LA is full of them.  If we compare Armenians to other ethnic groups facing or who faced similar situations and see percentage wise how many of those other ethnic groups left, it would be pretty poor.  For example, since you brought up georgia, how many georgias left their poverty stricken nation after the collapse of the ussr?  How many of them immigrate now?  Or Russians in the 90s, what percentage of them left their motherland?  No, Armenians, sadly, have a historical tendency to cut and run when the going gets tough.  Thank God we have had a number of patriots who have rallied out people.

    Another reason, the world economic crisis, can not be blamed on the RA government.  All nations are dealing with this, some better than others, but again, what is going on now in terms of the crisis is NOT the fault of Serj and Co. 

    All those nagatives which you mention, have been going down in recent years, there have been more arrests for corruption, there are now more orgs involved in the promotion of civil society now than every before, and foreign business that were not present in Armenia a few years ago have and are setting up shop in the country.
    Maybe living in Armenia has jaded you?

    Geography very much determines a peoples history, and if you think the the geopolitics is the minor, then we can end this debate now, because it is clear that you lack foresight, un emotional/rational thinking, and of course show yourself (once again) to be ignorant of geopolitics.  Armenia’s less than ideal situation is directly linked with its poor geopolitical location, end of story!

    Are you really comparing Armenia with georgia?  I have been to georgia, and it is in worse shape than Armenia.  Do you know how many times I got offered drugs on the streets of tiflis?  This as never once occured to me in Yerevan or any other Armenian city I’ve been to.  As has been pointed out, georgia recieves billions of dollars per annum from the West, mainly the US, and Armenia much much less, yet look at georgia.  A large percentage of the people want to see sakashvilli ousted, as was evidenced by the large rallies last week, which resulted in 2 deaths and many injuries.  Is this the nation which you wish Armenia to model itself after?  Or how about the fact that georgia lost S. Ossetia and Abkhazia for good.  Do you wish to see Artsakh lost as well? 

    It is quite clear that you can’t see the whole picture and that you can’t think thru these issues without getting emotional.  Again, read up on geopolitics, and maybe you will do better in future debates.

  14. Armen is shining example of why Armenia cannot afford to flirt with that thing called democracy. Majority of Armenians today want everything and they want it yesterday. These well-meaning yet self-destructive sons and daughters of Armenia need to understand that Rome was not built in a single day. These types of people are actually stunting Armenia’s development with their out-of-control emotions, utter irrationality and political ignorance. The western world had to commit centuries of genocides, slavery and international wars of exploitation before its people began enjoying a better living standards. A small, landlocked, resoureless and poor nation populated by immature/inexperienced people surrounded by enemies in one of the most violent places on earth will not turn into Switzerland overnight.

  15. “There are a number of reasons why Armenians immigrate. One of them is because too many Armenians are not patriots but rather the typical big talking ‘proud Armenians’.” Not true. Armenians are historically and culturally a sedentary people and they’d emigrate only when unbearable conditions nail them to the wall, so to speak. The endurance that local Armenians have shown in the post-earthquake situation and during the years of misery and destitution after independence is remarkable. Any outside Armenian would die out under those intolerable conditions. This has nothing to do with the lack of patriotism or a “historical tendency” to cut and run when the going gets tough. What do you mean by “historical tendency”? The escape from Hamidian massacres and the Young Turk genocide? What would you advise Armenians to do in those historical instances “when the going got tough”? Stay and be slaughtered as sheep? Someone here justified the possible actions of an Armenian police officer who has 2-3 kids and wife to feed and does not get enough of a salary, as being highly susceptible to bribes. Well, what if a whole nation that for years had no food, water, electricity, and heat in deadly winters or currently lacks pensions, jobs, and basic legal protection? Will they not be highly susceptible to fleeing? Ugh…

    “Another reason, the world economic crisis, cannot be blamed on the RA government… what is going on is NOT the fault of Serj and Co.” Not true. Was there world economic crisis in LTP’s times or in early Bobby’s times? How does the world economic crisis affect the fact that the natural gas that Russia sells to Armenia is sold on Armenian citizens almost three times higher the original price? How does the world economic crisis affect the unthinkably high prices for apricots in a country that produces the fruit in abundance? How does the world economic crisis affect the prices of oil that go down in major markets but go up in Armenia? How does the world economic crisis affect the artificial month-to-month fluctuations with foreign currency exchange rates? I have thousands “hows” for you that you simply won’t be able to explain by “world economic crisis.” Whereas people in Armenia will give you real reasons plain and simple.

    “Geography very much determines a people’s history.” True. As is the fact that Armenia’s less than ideal situation is directly linked with its poor geopolitical location. But it’s not end of story. And it’s a minor reason with the major being that Armenia’s internal resources were not utilized to the degree they’d provide some relief to the people. Instead, they were stolen and sold abroad. Privatization was introduced unfairly resulting in the enrichment of government-connected thugs. A few of them were allowed to monopolize the market, evade taxes that would otherwise greatly ease the people’s sufferings. I am ignorant of geopolitics, but I am more than sure that it is the domestic standing that helps confront the effects of harsh geopolitical realities. If it’s not unemotional/rational thinking, then what is it?

    I’m not comparing Armenia with Georgia or arguing the fact that Georgia lost S. Ossetia and Abkhazia. I invite you to face the fact—since you brought up the issue of corruption that originated in the Brezhnev times, i.e. was common for all Soviet republics—that the governmental corruption in Georgia is virtually eradicated and without whining about lack of patriotism or the world economic crisis. You think this was made possible only because Georgia received billions of dollars per annum from the West. I don’t think this the only reason. I think it is also because it’s believed that Saakishvilli is not a member of a clan system and he truly wishes for Georgia to become a European country if not by all, but at least by some standards.

    Read up public policy (regulation and de-regulation, for example) and the principles for successful domestic governance and in conjunction with your superb knowledge of geopolitics, which you bring up to justify the existence of unpopular regimes in Armenia, you’ll ideally fit the characteristics that a public-spirited, accountable, and patriotic leader must have.

  16. Re: “Maybe living in Armenia has jaded you?” Living in the Motherland cannot jade. Living under illegitimate, unpopular, and narrow-minded regimes in the course of 20 years, with no prospect of change, can.

    Re: Avetis, the shining example of advocacy for dictatorship and autocracy. FYI: these forms of government are reptiles, anachronisms. Died out like dinosaurs because they were not viable.

    “Rome was not built in a single day.” Duh… The difference is that emperors ensured continuity of building, betterment for the public good. A process that’s either absent in Armenia in major spheres or moves excruciatingly slow in minor ones.

    “Armenia will not turn into Switzerland overnight.” Duh… It’s turning into a Middle Eastern bazaar, nstead. With uncouth provincials flooded in Yerevan and most of intellectuals, erudites, and professionals out.

    A small, landlocked, resourceless and poor nation populated by immature/inexperienced people.” Duh… How come top government officials and government-connected tycoons live lavishly in the same small, landlocked, resourceless and poor nation” while most of the population don’t?

  17. AR: (bright red logo)
    Some numbers:
    Georgia: Officially, fewer than about 5% of country’s population of 4.4 Million live abroad..
    However, independent demographers estimate 300,000 to over 1 million [Source Aug 2010]
    Azerbaijan: According to Azeri sources, up to a quarter of it’s 8 million citizens are working/residing abroad (25%) [Source: Dr. Leila Alieva, who heads the Baku-based think tank Center for National and International Studies]. Other estimates are higher, 30%-40%, although at the moment I can’t confirm the sources.
    Russia: ludicrous comparison; with all its abundant natural wealth, unreal landmass, practically unlimited quantity of factories producing machinery and other goods (legacy of USSR), no threat of extermination – why would anybody emigrate, except for large numbers of  Russian Jews who emigrated to Israel for whatever reason.

  18. Why do you think I was referring to the Armenian Genocide?  I was not.  That is one example where Armenians were being wiped out and had to flee, and unlike in the late 1890s, the Russian Empire was in a mess as well.  Also, do you think Armenia has only suffered one genocide during its 4000 year history?  When Ani was sacked, Armenians fled in the hundreds of thousands to what is modern day Transylvania and Poland, this is just one example when our people have left their homeland instead of staying to protect it at all costs.

    The Armenia that you are describing was created by ltp and his cronies in the 90s. Now he wants to come to power again and people like you see nothing wrong with it.

    You are putting the blame for the effects of the economic crisis on Serj, which is not fair.  You cite the bad years under ltp as if that is linked to the current administration when it is NOT.  Do you realize that Armenia pays much less for its gas than the world market price?  Do you realize that under Robert and now Serj Armenia has ensured that it has another option for natural gas (Iran) in case the main supply for Russia is disrupted?  Of course it would be too much for me to expect you to point out the positive developments that have taken place in Armenia during the past 10 or so years.  This, by any standards, is called progress.  It may not be as fast as we would wish it to be and it may not be as clean as may wish it to be, but it is progress nonetheless, and ltp supporters, like you, are the ones who want to tear it down because you have this idealic sense that you can somehow fart and make Armenia into the land of milk and honey.

    I will leave you with this last observation.
    Greece is in Europe… Greece is ideally
    located on the Mediterranean Sea… Greece has vacationers coming in the
    millions… So, what is Greece’s problem? While it was Western banksters that
    ruined Greece, it was Greeks themselves that gave them the opportunity to do so.
    Nations like Greece (and Armenia) prove beyond any doubt that corruption,
    lawlessness and indifference towards one’s nation are sociological matters that
    are deeply rooted in a nation’s collective cultural practices and outlooks.
    Similarly, nations like Germany (and Japan) prove beyond any doubt that
    collective responsibility towards one’s nation, economic productivity and a
    society’s willingness to uphold law and order are also cultural traits. As there
    are defining differences in the behaviors of different breeds of dogs, they are
    clear differences between human tribes as well. With very few exceptions, governments of the world are a reflection of their people. Before Armenians complain about this Armenian official or that Armenian official, they must first take a honest look at themselves. When Armenians begin unconditionally, instinctively and willingly obeying their nation’s laws, when they begin looking at their nation as
    something that must be developed and not exploited, when they stop turning their
    neighborhoods into garbage dumps, when they stop offering or excepting bribes
    even for the tiniest of matters, when they stop looking at women as mere
    possessions – then and only then they can complain about their government

  19. “…our people have left their homeland instead of staying to protect it at all costs.” Our people were no different from others in Asia Minor, Middle East, and Europe who fled the hordes of nomadic Seljuk Turks and then Mongols, after realizing that resisting the barbarians was suicidal.

    “The Armenia that you are describing was created by ltp and his cronies in the 90s. Now he wants to come to power again and people like you see nothing wrong with it.” This is a sheer slander. Nowhere in my comments did I ever said or alluded to that. Instead, I criticized Serj and all of his predecessors. Making up stuff is not a mature behavior. Since you appear to belong to the category of Armenians who can only see things through LTP-Serj schism, let me say for the record that I don’t even see one apart from the other. For me, all of them are part of the same cohort, same unpopular, self-centered, corrupt cohort.

    “With very few exceptions, governments of the world are a reflection of their people.” Indeed. Because with very few exceptions, Armenia included, governments of the world are being elected by their people to become their reflection. If my vote and the votes of like-minded friends were counted and not falsified, at least one Armenian elected official—in a local municipality, district, or the national parliament—would be an intelligent, public-spirited individual, not a semiliterate thug or former criminal. Your nation does not consist only of people disobeying laws, turning their neighborhoods into garbage dumps, or offering or accepting bribes. Your nation has also produced bright intelligentsia, brave soldiers, and unselfish patriots. These people are in critical minority in modern times, but even they cannot have a say in a legislative organ because seats are being bought and the election process is being rigged. Besides, educating people to obey their nation’s laws, look at their nation as something that must be developed, avoid turning their neighborhoods into garbage dumps, stop offering or accepting bribes, and stop looking at women as mere possessions, is the prerogative of the government, not the masses. Of course, there are behavioral and cultural peculiarities: Armenians will never become Germans in matters of collective responsibility towards their nation, economic productivity, and a willingness to uphold law and order. Noone argues that. But to have a chance to appoint officials representing all social layers by means of free and fair elections, is it something the people don’t deserve to have?

    You say Armenians must first take a honest look at themselves. I, for one, am not a law-breaking, littering, bribe-giving person, but my “representative” in the parliament is a semiliterate restaurant network-owner whom I didn’t elect. If I take thousand honest looks at myself it won’t change the fact that my social stratus is not represented by an appropriate official. In fact, this official is a law-breaking, littering, and bribe-giving person, not me as a voter. Given this fact, should I complain about this Armenian official or that Armenian official or become a voiceless sheep? What are you advising the masses to do with their much-loathed government officials? Maybe we switch places as an experiment? You come down to Armenia, fart in a different way, maybe it will make Armenia into the land of milk and honey? What do you say?

  20. Armen,

    re.  Armenians will never become Germans in matters of collective responsibility towards their nation, economic productivity, and a willingness to uphold law and order.

    Well, once upon a time, ARmenians did become Germans.  Where do you think Germans come from?
    Although I get your point, but regardless, I want to ask you to stop discouraging people. 

  21. AR: (brownish red logo)
    re: “Well, once upon a time, ARmenians did become Germans.  Where do you think Germans come from?”

    First time I hear of it. Where is the source for this assertion ?

    I had heard of some connection between Armenians and Irish, and there are some similarities in character, but never about a German-Armenian connection. I have never seen any reference to any connection between Germanic tribes – that later became the German nation – and Armenians.

  22. I am not discouraging people, AR.  I reflect on what the bulk of the local Armenian population would tell incorrigible outsiders like yourself. Please, there is no need to play ostrich. The local population and hundreds of thousands who emigrated are not all dumbs.

    Never heard of a new anthropological fairy tale that Germans had originated from Armenians, but would love to hear more…

    P.S.  Would unsubstantiated encouragement be a panacea from our ills?

  23. Avery,

    I don’t, at this moment, remember the source(s) of this info.  It is not an assertion, it has been successfully kept from public.  Long time ago a legion of about 30,000 ARmen(ian)s go North then West and end up in Bavaria, Austria.  Upon their arrival they realize how advanced they are compared to the local tribes.  Down the road they mix with locals resulting in modern day Germans.  In old German language they used the same word for ARmenia and Germany.   In close observation it is the same word: armen(ia),
     german(ia), hermania, harmania.  Also that is where the Spanish word herman(o) – brother – originated from.  The (real) ruling elite in Germany is well aware of this.

  24. Armen,

    I guess it is time for you to leave politics behind and start looking into antropological fairy tales in close scrutiny.  And not only fairy tales, – epics too.  You are not a baby anymore, so if you have any interest in fairy tales then you should start researching them by yourself.  Just because you are NOT familiar or know everything that is being posted here, does NOT mean that they are fairy tales.  You show a high level of ignorance and lack of controling your ego. 

    re.   I reflect on what the bulk of the local Armenian population would tell incorrigible outsiders like yourself.   Please, there is no need to play ostrich.

    Bulk of the local ARmenian population??? There are bunch of different bulks of the local population.  So which one do you belong to??  Is it the bulk that think they know everything but fail to produce results???

     Incorrigible outsiders like myself?????   Incorrigable????   Outsiders????
    It seems like you are well aware of my nature and character.  Do we know each other? Have we met before???  If not, then one may ask how do you know that I am INCORRIGIBLE ?  Is it because I did not agree with some of your primitive, unfounded, baseless, iresponsible, vague, UNAWARE, misinformed statements?? So anyone that does not agree with you becomes incorrigible????  So if I am incorrigible then what does that make you?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
    Outsider?  I wonder hom much the bulk of your type of (insider) locals contribute to the ARmenia’a economy compared to OUTSIDERS like me?  As far as I remeber, if you are the same Armen, correct me if I am wrong, you are in CA for education.  Well, then keep on educating yourself because it is the greates opportunity you will ever have befoer you go back to live there.  That is if you do go back.  

    re.  Please, there is no need to play ostrich.

    Armen, bite your ego before it bites you!

  25. is there a need to argue and use harsh language  amongst ourselves ?
    how about we save the highly useful venom for the Denialist Disinformation Drones that appear here and at other Armenian websites regularly ?

    sometimes we just have to agree to disagree and move on: we are after all working towards the same goal, are we not ? we have too many foreign enemies: we cannot afford to expend our valuable time and energy against each other at this time. There too few of us, and our enemies are too many.

    the one and only time I see value in staking a no-compromise  position is when confronting the Denialists.

  26. AR,

    I honestly don’t understand what so infuriates you? That we, as lawful citizens of Armenia, criticize our own governments, past or present? Is this what infuriates you or the fact that disgruntled people like me are many in Armenia? Does this come as a surprise to you? You’ve heard that Germans originated from Armenians but never heard that many of your co-nationals live in harsh conditions? Really, what does my stating a widely-known fact have to do with my ego? The bulk of the population is the majority of our compatriots who live in poor conditions, undefended by the state, uncounted during the elections. The bulk is not a bunch of unelected rulers or semiliterate oligarchs or former criminals in parliamentary seats: they are the minority. I don’t belong to them. I cannot belong to them given the way I was brought up and educated. As a young man, I’d like to make my country better. One way to achieve this is to point out to what goes wrong in the country. You are incorrigible because never in this thread have you accepted that rulers are unpopular, largely provincial, self-centered, and incapable of good governance. Instead, you accuse me of a “lack of foresight.” People live in the present time, not in the future. My parents were fed fairy tales about brighter future in the Soviet Union, which never came. Now my generation is being fed by people like you the same fairy tales. While we wait for this “better future”, Armenians emigrate and this is a threat to the very existence of my nation. May I be concerned with this? Is this an ego? What exactly do you see happened during the 20 years of independence that made the lives of ordinary people better? Jobs, pensions, affordable prices, legal protection, accountability of rulers, hospitable environment for businesses not connected to the government? What? I’d like to contribute to Armenia’s economy, but there is no such a thing as economy in the country. Our “economy” is several profitable businesses that are in the hands of several monopolists who won’t go away any time soon. May I raise my voice against this abnormality? Or I should ask permission from you? You don’t have to be offended when I use the word “outsider.” I don’t contest your patriotism. But for the people who’ve gone through the Soviet times, the consequences of the earthquake, misery and destitution during the first several independence years, and the hardships of the modern times, talking from outside of Armenia about the “lack of foresight” and “bright future” is inappropriate because it is us who endure under Leviks, Robiks, Serjiks, and the like, not you. Sorry.

  27. Avery,

    Healty argument is necessary when it has a merit.  It serves as an opportunity to learn.  Sometimes harsh words is exactly what some of us need because, human ego has a tendency to get carried away from the spirit after some physical, academical or financial achivements (or fathers/uncles financial achievents).  Harsh words are no medicine for that, but sometimes they force us to take a second look into what takes place.  It is important to note that no schools, colleges, univercities in the world can possibly teach this subject.  WE CAN ONLY LEARN IT THROUGH PERSONAL EXPERIENCES, for which, mistakes, arguments and sometimes harsh comments are necessary.    
    In any case,  thank you for your last comment! 

  28. Armen,

     If you want to be helpful for your country you better stop criticising and start looking into solutions.  Any country in the world will never be short of criticisers, but they are always in need of more people who can find solutions to problems.  Your academical level will allow you to be more productive when you start looking for solutions. 

  29. AR:     Settle in Armenia and find solutions while I’ll be watching from distant shores (as long as I’m here) as to how successful you’ll be in this. Then, if you will, we’ll meet again on these pages to discuss progress that you will have achieved without raising criticism against the regime. When your major solution, i.e. the vote that you’re entitled to cast, is discounted for decades, the only other thing you’ll be able to do, without crushing narrow-minded provincial heads of the rulers, is to raise criticism.

  30. Armen,

    re. -the only other thing you’ll be able to do, without crushing narrow-minded provincial heads of the rulers, is to raise criticism. 

    As always, you act like you know everything and every possible way and not only for yourself but now you have quickly calculated my options too. 

    You have had enough time to realize and understand that criticism has not helped to achieve what you want. 

    Insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results—Albert Einstein.

    Now be apart with your incorrigible character and pay attention, you might find out there are other ways to solve the problem.
    I must start by saying that as far as I know ARmenia is one of the few, if not the only, country in the world that has not had a civil war, so I think pushing it to that is not a great idea.  What I think is the best way to solve the problem is through a powerful diaspora.  We should increase the Western diaspora’s influence in ARmenia.  Russian diaspora’s influence is huge too, but will never be effective enough without Western diaspora’s (at least equal) interference. 

    There might be another strategical way that I don’t know about, but what i am convinced about is that ARmenian diaspora is the strongest weapon ARmenia has.  Look at Jews.  Why are they so powerful? Do you think it is because USA is their ally?? Maybe. BUt why is USA their ally??  It is because of their diaspora.

    So instead of advising  me to go back to see which is better to crush someone’s head or criticising, I think you should accomplish your mission here first, then continue your well meant patriotism about ARmenia either from here or go back and continue it there.   

  31. AR,

    Re: Einstein’s quote “Insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results”, did you mean the Armenian ruling cliques who in the course of 20 years rig elections, suppress the formation of civil society and the middle class over and over and expect different results?

    I believe productive criticism does help to achieve societal goals. Your greatest aberration is to think that sheep-like subservience to the whims and all-permissiveness of the rulers are better mechanisms to achieve the goals of the society in general. Especially in a post-Soviet society, where civil, democratic ways of persuasion or influence are almost non-existent. One effective mechanism (and I believe we both are not pushing our country to a civil war) that remains in the hands of the disgruntled and electoral right-deprived people, is criticism. In a society in which rulers are in no way accountable to the populace, criticism, civil disobedience, political apathy, and mass emigration fill the gap.

    I agree with you on the role of the Diaspora’s interference, but so far Western Diaspora was, just like you, reluctant to openly criticize and condemn the authorities for their handling of the state matters. Diasporans say: “this is to avoid civil war or fend off external threats”. But your silence and inactivity only play to the hands of the rulers, and to the detriment of the people. Eve considered that?

    Whether you like it or not, nothing’s going to happen without an internal commotion. Not that I advocate it, but this is what the experience of other countries tells us. Ruling cliques and oligarchs will not go even if the whole world’s Armenia Diaspora interferes, because these thugs will not allow you to interfere in the first place. Short of an undesirable civil war or a revolution, the right of the people to criticize their government and show other ways of civil dissatisfaction remain the most effective tools against uncaring, self-centered, and inherently corrupt ruling thugs.

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