Freedom Square Is Calling

Growing up in Lebanon, I remember football (soccer) tournaments were events of magnified importance. Teams were divided along confessional and political lines and, naturally, so were the fans.

Rally at Freedom Square in Yerevan on Feb. 20, 2013. (Photo by Khatchig Mouradian, The Armenian Weekly)
Rally at Freedom Square in Yerevan on Feb. 20, 2013. (Photo by Khatchig Mouradian, The Armenian Weekly)

I recall the stories my father and older brother would tell when they returned from a game. Depending on whether Homenetmen had won or lost, they would talk about the chants and slogans, describe how this or that player had scored a goal, how luck was simply not on our side that day, or how the referees were completely unreasonable and unfair in their rulings.

Teams went to great lengths to ensure victory. Bribing referees and fixing matches were regular occurrences for several local teams that could afford it—a phenomenon we refused to participate in. For the community, though, it did not matter. Whether we were strong enough to take on the opponent or not, whether we could expect a game to be fixed or not, our fans showed up in large numbers with their flags and chants to support their team. It was not just about sports. The games were about the community’s thirst for acknowledgement, for winning. It was one way to channel the political aspirations and frustrations of a community formed on the ashes of genocide and deprived of a homeland. And so rain, hail, or shine they showed up.

So did our compatriots in Armenia on the day of the country’s sixth presidential elections. They showed up to express their aspirations for a better future; they showed up for a chance to win against all odds.

With three major opposition forces not participating, the non-competitiveness of the election seemed to dominate public discourse, or at least media discourse, in the pre-electoral phase. The results were going to be fixed—and they were. People were going to be bribed, pressured, intimidated—and many were. Not many people were going to show up, because it was all a sham—but many did. It was meaningless to participate—but the aftermath has shown it certainly wasn’t. In retrospect, those who held these views—myself included, but, more importantly, several prominent opposition forces—were right about many things. But I am thankful we were wrong about what counts most—the will of the people.

Election day is over but the struggle for fair and just elections is not. We may never know the exact proportion of votes Raffi Hovannisian and Serge Sarkisian received, but our people are still showing up, this time at Freedom Square, to defend their democratic right to vote, to defend their choice. I don’t know where the future will lead us, and if, when, or how the gatherings at Freedom Square will come to an end this time around. How the coming days pan out will depend on many things, including the decisions and actions of Hovannisian, the authorities, and other political forces in Armenia.

In these uncertain times, however, one thing is certain: This struggle is not about Hovannisian gaining power. It is not about the Heritage Party or the Republican Party, the ARF, the Armenian National Congress, or Prosperous Armenia. This sentiment was reiterated by Hovannisian himself during one of his speeches at Freedom Square. This struggle is about freedom, self-determination, nation-building, and democratization. It is the struggle for a better future—a strong Armenia where the will of the people is respected, not oppressed. For this reason, it must be a united struggle.

Yet again, Armenia is at a crossroads. All political forces in Armenia have a choice to make. Those who see themselves defending the freedom of the people and democratic principles must play their role in this struggle. This is particularly true for the main opposition parties. Members of the Armenian National Congress—which remains embroiled in an internal struggle—have attended the gatherings at Freedom Square. Prosperous Armenia remains silent. The ARF has announced it stands by the people. More concrete actions are needed, however. Having sat out the elections out of lack of faith in the process, these parties now have an opportunity to re-evaluate their policies and to take part in carving out a different future for our country. Otherwise they may risk marginalizing themselves.

The people of Armenia have spoken. They have spoken against five more years of corruption, emigration, social inequality, economic deprivation, human rights violations, and irresponsible foreign policies. We can’t afford five more years of suppressing the will of the people. Enough. Freedom Square is calling.

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Houry Mayissian

Houry Mayissian is a communications professional with journalism and public relations experiences in Dubai, Beirut, and Sydney. She has studied European politics and society at the University of Oxford, specializing on the democratic reform process in Armenia as part of its European integration. She is currently based in Yerevan.

45 Comments

  1. Deaar Houry Mayissian,
    Thanks for a fine reporting/informing.Elsewhere on this forum in another thread,i have written in armenian what the situation REQUIRERS in Armenia now.In brief a Transitional sort of New Govt-.(definitely not Ishkhanutyun)I do not agree with Armenians -especially in Armenia- repeatedly using that to address Government.Ishkhan,you and all know quite well can be translated into PRINCE,Andorra, Monaco ,Leikhtenstein are Principalities indeed.Also in old Armneia centuries back we did have ISHKHANS(ea om his own unfortuantely)so did Spain also, for people who do not know.But then a Spanish pricess united them around here got well armed threw the conquering Khaliphates(after 600 yrs over-ruling Spain…OUT!!!
    Those were princes. I rather name them (the so called oligarks, as our latter day capitalists ..BTW) Anyhow I strayed away a bit please excuse me…
    I ¨suggested¨¨ A TRANSITIONAL GOVT. when Serge would invite from opposition ,besides Hovanissian,hairikian bagratian and other such contendors..also from our traiditonal politial parties ,plus MERITED politicians and intellectuals to a New Cabinet -he ought to immediately form-plus dissolves Parliament and call for a NEW One with New Elections in March.Otherwise it is anybody´s guess, NO POWER IN THE WORLD HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO GO AGAINST THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE!!!
    aND aRMENIA AND ARMENIANS WILL SUFFER PLENTY.Time to ¨¨despertar¨¨spanish wake from a siesta or numbness…
    best and trust Mr sargsyan will realize what is at stake!!! and the atmophere rather tense and electrified, though NOT ON THE SURFACE!

  2. It is quite possible that we may look at the events of this February as a major transition point in the evolution of democracy in Armenia. For a people that love to celebrate important dates in our history, here’s one more….. February 18 the date of the Presidential electon is also the anniversary of the short lived revolt against the newly established Bolshevik rule in 1921.
    This February 18 will be recorded as a time of change. We don’t know what the outcome will be, but at a minimum, like the tolerance level of our people has been reached our emerging generation, educated in the post Soviet world , is beginning to take it’s place. For those of us in the diaspora, it can be an awkward identity. If we are too critical, it can be viewed as ” armchair ” participants with little credibility. Our values, for the most part, have been shaped by environments individual freedoms are well established institutions and democracy is almost assumed. For the most part, we really do not understand how others have to struggle for freedom.
    Public movements for change are fueled by the momentum created by the will of the people supported by important institutions. Those political institutions who formally sat out the elections( no candidate or endorsement) need to stand up and be counted. The ANC , ARF and Prosperous Armenia are needed. Obviously there are sensitive negotiations going on and we will learn a great deal in the next few days. Pray for wisdom of Serzh and Raffi. Pray for all Armenians to respect the needs of our people. Another window of opportunity is opening in the long history of our people. Let us pray the result is an Armenia closer to the needs of her citizens and our long standing vision in the diaspora.

  3. Another inane article by Ms. Mayissian. Particularly her concluding sentence. Do all the ‘democracy now’ advocates realize that Armenia would still remain land locked, resource-less, and surrounded by two hostile states even if Armenia were to hold the most free and fair elections in world history? Oh and the irony of an ARF publication along with the party it represents jumping on the Raffi bandwagon. Please explain to us why this great and old party, the ARF, did not field a candidate?? The lame excuse officially given does not cut it.

  4. How right you are, Houry. Except your call to go to Freedom square. Are you calling for an upsising. As you said, people have voted, wether “referee” was right or wrong. Was it right to go and bash each other after football game if referee was wrong. Raffi should congradulate S. Sargisian and carry on his good work graciously.

  5. People, don’t make a fuss about Armenian election. All Armenians’ president is Serge Sarkissian, Personally I applaud and encourage. Let us all be optimistic and make sure to move forward together, without sowing pitfalls, without creating divisions. Our president is Serge Sarksissian, let’s give him the opportunity to move forward with the support of a whole people, including diaspora and you will see that Armenia will go further in progress. “Don’t have one’s cake and eat it, too !”, but rather admire the progress made since Armenia’s independence, isn’t it amazing? The country changes and transforms year after year. Is there corruption? Give me the name of a developed country where corruption is at zero… Is there poverty? (That’s what most often Armenians from diaspora say on their return from holiday.) Give me the name of a developed country where poverty is at zero… Armenia do not necessarily have to resemble to other countries, yes, the country is making great strides and is on the path of development, let’s focus on how we can ALL TOGETHER, without divisions, continue to build the country we’ll leave to our future generations. And let other countries rather envy us, let’s become in the future and in our way an example for other countries and not vice versa.

    • “let’s give him [Serge, that is] the opportunity to move forward with the support of a whole people, including diaspora and you will see that Armenia will go further in progress”

      But, dear Pat, he’s already been “given”, so to speak, the opportunity to move forward five years ago. What is it that’s been registered as “progress” during the past five years? Dormant conflict? Well, it’s been dormant since 1994. What else? Elders’ pensions now provide for basic consumer basket? Jobs were created? Emigration was curbed? Lawlessness is minimized? Rampant corruption was made less rampant? Independent judiciary was introduced? Civil society and human rights were strengthened? Turkish-Armenian protocols were not signed? Support for Obama’s “”medz yeghern“ euphemist substitution was not shown? What is it what you call “progress” that the emigrating Armenian citizens don’t see?

  6. {“The people of Armenia have spoken. They have spoken against five more years of corruption, emigration, social inequality, economic deprivation, human rights violations and irresponsible foreign policies. We can’t afford five more years of suppressing the will of the people. Enough. Freedom Square is calling.”}

    Yes Ms. Mayissian: people of Armenia have spoken. Loud and clear.
    “They have spoken against five more years…”: What ? What ‘against’ ?
    Are you sure you are talking about the 2013 RoA Presidential election ?
    Check the results: 60% of eligible voters voted.
    58% voted for five more years of stability and steady progress.
    What suppression of the will of the people are you talking about ?

    You want democracy ? you got it: in a democracy those who win, 50%+1, get to tell those who lose, 50%-1, how the country is run.
    Or is there a different definition of democracy when the guy you don’t like wins by a landslide: he won by a 21% margin.
    In what Universe those who got 37% of the vote get to tell those who got 58% of the vote how the country is run.

    2012 Parliamentary Election:
    Republican Party 53%
    Prosperous Armenia 28%
    ANC 5%
    Rule of Law 5%
    ARF 4%
    Heritage 4%

    People in the streets always grab the headlines. It is that way in US also.
    The ‘silent majority’ in Armenia had their say in 2012 and 2013.
    Losers need to graciously accept defeat and move on.
    And the Armenian Diaspora in the West, including ARF, needs to stop their counterproductive campaigns.

    And concentrate on the real enemies who are in Baku and Ankara.

    • Enemies can be both external and internal. When I hear calls to concentrate on enemies who are in Baku and Ankara, I take it as distraction of people’s attention to enemies within the country. This is an old cheap trick that any unpopular government does: when it knows it does not enjoy broad-based popular support, it tends to shift the citizens’ attention to external enemies. The trick also works as a warning for the oppressed people: “If you complain too harshly, we’ll bring a war upon your heads”. Serj and his regime is not an exception.

    • “You want democracy ? you got it: in a democracy those who win, 50%+1, get to tell those who lose, 50%-1, how the country is run.”

      Not necessarily. In a democracy, even those in power need to be held accountable and people should and must complain when they don’t do a good job. Democracy does not start and end on the day of vote. It’s an everyday process where the population keep an eye on those with power and voice their approval and objections.

      There were issues with voting in Armenia. I don’t know how bad it was or whether it made a difference in Serj’s win, but that’s still unacceptable. There should be no voting issues that undermine the legitimacy of those in office.

      Baku and Ankara are enemies and real dangers. But there are also internal issues and they’re not being dealt with satisfactorily.

      You’re starting to sound like a partisan shrill Avery.

  7. Avery,
    Hold it there.Certainly we ought to know where to concentrate on….
    That ,I ´m afraid is not the solution.it is rather a diversion from main issue.
    Armenia is landlocked,small and with no resources..
    Except a filthy RICH DIASPORA.
    Latter is not willing to REALLY participate and invest in Armenia,since :-
    1. Diaspora itself is not at all well organized,it is centrifugal,each establishment,political party what not acting on THEIR OWN,their own agendas.
    2.Meanwhile…..the outflow of our brethren from RA is CONTINIUEING, while a certain person X is building palatial ¨Menadun¨, private residence.Where did he bring the funds from to such EXTRAVAGANCE!!!
    Ias there any counting/control?????
    Please don´t give us lessons on PERCENTAGES….( on rigged up ,bought votes).Clearly this time over,again -but on a lessor scale-manipulated elections have taken ,or rather will take their toll on the poor population.
    The immigraation will continue,the DIVIDE BETWEEN filthy rich and poor deepen.Is this the Democracy we wish to our people????
    Remember there were -recent couple yrs or so-revolts, demonstartions, violent acts, from the Northwestern Africa to the Middle East,stopping in Syria.
    Elsewehre from Greece on to westward reaching Wall Street….
    Somehwat worried about what might happen, the obama Administration is hard trying to levy taxes on the wealthy,more than before and then again take measures to satisfy the poor.On right track and kudos to him.
    Armenia needs to CHANGE and that FAST,before it is too late.
    Hopefully a CONCILLIATORY GOVT. WILL BE FOREMD A NEW CABIENT COMPORISING OF LESS OLIGARKS ,more from THE PEOPLE!!!
    OTHERWISE,SORRY TO SAY ,we are going to see a very slow moving Armenia while, WITHIN THIS YEAR, our two neighbours triumph and put a harder choke on us!!!!
    Soon the railway from Baku via Akhalkalak(i) will begin to operate.Armenian workers who swent up to get jobs on its construction were refused!!!! by the Turk formen.EU,USA,RF.These are busy with their own agendas as above explained. Armenians, have to take care of themselves.Tthere is no free lunch,as the saying goes here…So (A DESPERTAR!!!!) a wake up Call rather than a call to ….
    Hope is O.K. but action is requited as well. We need the young to take over!!!
    Enough of old ways of running this that establishment.New blood is needed!!!!!!!
    I suggesst in Diaspora a CALL TO AMALGAMATION TO CONVERGENCE TO TOLERANCE AND REAL ,TOTAL C O O P E R A T I O N !!!!!
    Fragmentation has cost us a lot and will cost even more.I suggsted elsewhere on the forum-here-that ARF go back to its old very old ARMENIAN REVOLUTIONARIES, (PLURAL) MODE AND ASK THE OTHER TRADITIONAL POLITICLA PARTIES TO JOIN IN AND FORM THAT ONE UNDER THE NAME OF ARMENIAN E V O L U I O N A RF Y FEDERATION!!!!
    Time to Evolve rather than Revolt!!!

  8. Կեցցե մեր նախագահը Սերժ Սարգսյանը, Կեցցե Հայաստանը !
    Հաջողություն!

    PS: Delete this pessimism from your head and stop whining & criticize negatively, be optimistic, smile to life, it will reward you!

    • Pat, do you live in Armenia in the capacity of ordinary citizen, born and raised there? Or you brim with optimism and ear-to-ear smile to life from the convenience of your Los Angeles house?

  9. Mr. Palanjian:

    {“Please don´t give us lessons on PERCENTAGES….( on rigged up ,bought votes).Clearly this time over,again -but on a lessor scale-manipulated elections have taken ,or rather will take their toll on the poor population.”}

    “on rigged, bought votes”

    Find proof that the election was rigged and votes were bought to a degree that can account for 21% margin of victory, and I’ll gladly change my mind.
    Several foreign organizations unaffiliated with any of the local political parties were on the ground observing the elections before and during the election.
    Exit polls were conducted. Not a single one of those organizations has found anything, other than some minor irregularities here and there.

    Some of those organizations, btw, have a vested interest in creating uncertainty and doubt as to election results, so Armenia can be weakened and controlled via internal turmoil.
    If they cannot find a shred of evidence of the wild claims being disseminated by the losing side, then why would I believe the wild claims ?

    Here, I will paste my answer from another thread:

    […posters here, including yourself, have absolutely no credible evidence that anything was stolen. it is all conjecture and innuendo.
    every independent objective observer, with no skin in the game, has stated that 2013 Presidential election was the most fair, most democratic, most transparent election in RoA to date.
    The fact that independent polling organizations’ exit polls tracked within a few percentage points the actual results for Pres Sargsyan is another hard metric that leaves no room for sour-grapes. (Exit polls for Sargsyan: 58% vs 59% actual; Hovannisian: 32% vs 37% actual)]

    Here is sample of what some foreign observers say:
    [Foreign parliamentary experts: Armenia election free, fair and transparent] (armradio.am)

    {The independent team, headed by UK Member of Parliament Gisela Stuart and Lord Chris Rennard of the UK House of Lords, and joined by other parliamentarians and political journalists, spent election day touring much of the country surrounding Yerevan, visiting over 20 polling stations and speaking with electoral officers, party representatives and ordinary voters.

    Addressing a press conference in Yerevan today, team member Paul Keetch, a British Liberal-Democrat MP until he stepped down in 2010, said he had been an observer in elections from the US to Albania, and had even been physically ejected by Albanian authorities for his criticisms in a past vote. “From what I could see, there is no question in my mind that this election was free, fair and transparent, and incorporated robust checks and balances designed to make it that way.”}

    {Several of the team members noted concerns about the ink used to stamp voters’ passports. Prior to the election, there had been concerns about stamps disappearing, thus allowing multiple voting. The team took ink samples at every polling station and detected no problems. But even had there been, they noted that the stamps were just one part of a three-step process to prevent vote fraud. “You have more checks in this country than we have in the UK,” noted Peter Hayes, a long-time British political correspondent and broadcaster.

    Several team members said they were particularly reassured to note a consistency between pre-election opinion polls, exit polling, and the actual election result. ”If one candidate gets a third of the vote and comes in second, that is a sign of democracy in action and a competitive political system,” Mrs. Stuart said.}

    And Mr. Palanjian: you have lectured me personally on several prior occasions as to how to write a post, how to do this or that. I also remember how you disparaged one our heroic Armenian intelligence officers of WW2. I respect our elders by our national traditions. But everyone must know their limits.

  10. Petros, the place where I live is not that important, the question one should ask is: Is Armenia living in your heart or in somebody else’s heart? in your dreams or in somebody’s nightmares?

    • It is, actually, very important, Ani. Had you lived in Armenia the way ordinary citizens do, I’m sure you’d sing a quite different tune. Why do you think that unnecessarily praising Serj and his regime indicates that one has Armenia living in his or her heart, but criticizing the government for its shortcomings indicates that Armenia lives in somebody else’s heart? Is it by ones’ attitude towards the government that you judge your compatriots? Government is the biggest evil. Any government. Anywhere. It is the well-being of your people that should matter. In my dreams I wish to see Armenia as a land of the supremacy of law, where the dignity of man is respected. His or her vote is respected and counted for, not rigged or stolen. Why is this nightmare? Only because your unpopular government is being scorned by such dreams? Who are more important for you, Pat? Your nation or your government? Most of the Armenians have apathy towards their government, it’s a proven fact. Do you support the people or the government they have apathy for?

  11. Avery, you usually have such good insights and information but I did not notice when you became an apoligists for the current government. the same goes for Pat and VTiger. Why should Armenia and its citizens be deprived of certain standards just because we are landlocked and other stuff. Infact we should be the least corrupt and maximized opportuniies period.
    You know when we lived in Turkey, the only people that extorted money from my father where muslim turks. I guess its a human thing we have to worry about our own armenian brothers as well or are they armenian?

  12. Gaytsag is absolutely right. The Diasporans who refuse to invest in Armenia are not complaining about the blockade or the landlocked status of the country, they complain about the lack of rule of law and the laughable legal environment. Those who immigrate to the U.S. in thousands are not talking about the landlocked borders, they talk about the “bespredel” (i.e. limitless impunity) and lack of protection under the law. These are things that can be changed whether the country is landlocked or not, and there is no excuse for keeping up with such a messed up system. Let’s change the things that we can change in Armenia (i.e. the legal system), and then see how much of our problems are due to the landlocked borders, and how much is internal. Give the people and the Diaspora a system that they can have faith in, and they will make the country so strong that it will render Ankara and Baku totally irrelevant.

    I always say how the U.S. started with 3 million people, exactly the number that Armenia started after independence, and how it grew 100 times stronger. If they can do it with the right system, so can we.

    • Vahagn, I am with you. Armenia must fix the internal issues of unfairness and lawlessness to create a democratic environment in which the nation and its people can thrive.

      God bless the people of Armenia as they claim their rights.

    • I’d second the first part of your comment, Vahagn, but disagree with the second one. Any comparison of Armenia with the U.S or any other country, for that matter, is totally off-base.

      Demography-wise, Armenia has undergone cataclysmic metamorphoses throughout several millennia, whereas the U.S. is a new nation-state hardly ever involved in wars, invasions, genocides, etc. on its own soil throughout its 200+ years of history.

      Nationality-wise, Armenians have been mostly a homogeneous nation throughout several millennia, whereas the U.S. is the immigrant country. Naturally, an immigrant country would progress incomparably faster than a homogeneous one.

      Geography-wise, needless to say that in the best-case scenario Armenia cannot grow 100x stronger because her territorial boundaries put natural limit on the population growth.

      Military-wise, Armenia’s independence was achieved at the time of a military conflict that a neighboring country has started against Armenia with one other neighboring country, a genocide perpetrator, posing a constant threat for Armenia. Whereas America’s independence was achieved as a result of a war with a former colonizer across the ocean that constantly ran the risk of being overstretched geographically, logistically, and militarily.

      Vahagn, you cannot copy-and-paste the way one nation had built a state onto the third country. Your points, some of them quite levelheaded and to the point, are nonetheless seriously flawed with an unnecessary excessive admiration with everything American. No country can be a role model for the other in every way. America, too, had serious problems and flaws on the path of state-building and in the current form of government. If you attempt to compare the incomparable (population growth) between the U.S. and Armenia, do please also compare the historical conditions in which both countries started their state-building.

      I’m not a regime apologist as are Avery, Pat, and VTiger, but with all the constructive criticism of the mishaps of the government and their inability to rule effectively, I can also see objective hardships surrounding Armenia. This is not to say that the blame must be put on external enemies. Unfortunately, we, inadvertently, can be our own enemies. The truth lies, as always, somewhere in between.

    • Petros, General Andranik, after giving his life fighting for the Armenian cause, left the Republic of Armenia in 1919 and eventually chose to settle in the United States, selling chairs and dying just a few dozen miles from I live in Glendale. Think about it, this guy went through unimaginable dangers and deprivations, then, soon after Armenia becomes independent, he leaves, moves around abit, and chooses the U.S. as his home. If this does not speak in favor of adopting the U.S. form of government, I don’t know what does. Now, maybe he did not think in terms of democracy or a form of government, but I suspect the things that drew him to the U.S.–security, rule of law, freedom to sell chairs without anyone bugging you, these are things that are a direct result of the American democracy.

      I will tell you another story, about a conversation that took place between the U.S. ambassador Harrison (the future president who only ruled for a month) and Simon Bolivar, known as the great Liberator. At the time, there was a country in South America called “Gran Colombia,” which many hoped (and some modern historians still believe) could become the U.S. of South America and a counter-balance to the U.S.A. In 1829 , Harrison suggested president Bolivar that he should make the country a U.S.-style democracy (his words where, “the freest government is the strongest”). Bolivar’s response was pretty much “screw you and your America.” Now, Bolivar believed that the U.S. had the best form of government but did not trust his people and thought they were too ignorant for it. So, he decided to be a dictator. One year later, Gran Colombia collapsed. Who had the last laugh here? The U.S. kept growing stronger and larger. Maybe if Bolivar tried the American’s suggestion, there would be a Latino version of the U.S. Instead, his country collapsed, and the Latin American states have always been plagued with instability and civil wars.

      I am not saying we should adopt everything American, I am not suggesting to adopt the jazz, the Coka Cola, or even every law in the U.S. But there is no reason not to adopt its basic framework–its constitution, in its modern form. There is no rule that says we cannot model one country’s system after another. If someone invents a bicycle, you don’t reinvent it again, take it and use it. There is no rule that says the same can’t be done with forms of government. If another country has gone through all the trouble of creating a successful form of government, we don’t have to go through the same troubles to create ours, we can copy what has already worked.

      All those differences that you mention, they sound like excuses not to try the most successful form of government in history, whereas all facts suggest that we should. I am not saying Armenia will end up exactly as the U.S., but all facts suggest that the *direction* will be towards stronger and better. Think of the U.S. democracy as a weapon, you may not achieve the same result, but it will most likely still help. Maybe the population of Armenia will not grow 100 times, but it will grow by some measure. 1 million people every year immigrate to the U.S. Thousands of Armenians among them prefer to live under that system. People are what make a country stronger. Our immigrants would be those Armenians who either left Armenia or who were born abroad. You mention geographic limitations, well we have vast empty areas called Liberated Territories. People in the U.S., including immigrants, populated the West despite the constant threat from Native Americans, because they knew the government would protect them. There are no tribes threatening settlers in the lands around Artsakh, why wouldn’t Armenians act like the American pioneers, given the right system? As for the geography, when you let people and investment make the country stronger, it will be much easier to deal with our neighbors from a position of strength, and perhaps we could resolve some of those geographic limitations.

      When you mention the historic and geographical differences between the U.S. and Armenia, we should also compare the U.S. to others in the area. There were entities that had the same geography, but somehow the U.S. did much better. Certainly Mexico or the other Latin countries did much worse. Canada did not become independent till 1932 or 1981, depending who you ask, and they are still the Queen’s subjects. In that part of the world, only the U.S. grew from 3 million to 300 and from a strip of coastline to a superpower. And it did it because millions of people, including Armenians, including people like General Andranik, preferred to live, work, and die there. Maybe we will not achieve the same result. But given the facts, it’s worth the try.

  13. Under Serzh there wont be anyone left in Armenia in 5 years or so, as people are voting with their feet against rampant corruption,fraudulent deals,injustices all over,chronic poverty,treacherous protocols,and the rest.

    If this is what you want than keep him there and good luck Armenia,by the way if anyone thinks that corrupt serzh got so many votes they need to have their brains tested,the votes of serzh were bumped up through ballot stuffing and ballot rigging.

    • RK, please come back to this page in five years to take back your words.

      The problem with this crowd is that they will come back to their homes and start thinking about getting their sons graduating form high schools to go to universites next Fall to avoid military service. And next they would think where to find money to pay bribes so their kids enter a university. Than they would need to collect bribes from where they work to pay professors to keep their children in universities.

      If they make a bit more “grey” income, they would start planning their Summer trips to Turkish resorts, etc, etc.

      My point is that corruption is ingrained in the society and no president can change it overnight. It is used by the propaganda machine and quickly forgotten.

      My point in these examples is that the leadership is actually ahead of the society in this case but the society has to stop corruption from within. Otherwise, whoever would come to power would just bring their relatives and buddies to fill government positions and steal until they are replaced by another clan.

      It has nicer wrapping but the same thing happens in America too. It is less noticeable though because America is not landlocked and bullied by its neighbors, etc.

  14. Until corruption and the rule of law is firmly established in Armenia no amount of spin of words can persuade investors to invest in Armenia as there is no confidence either by the Armenian public at large or foreign investors in the corrupt system.

    Immigration of the Armenian people will continue until we all make an effort to clean our house from these thugs and crooks.

  15. The ruling Republican party RPA is the root cause of all evil and corruption in Armenia these days,the den of all corrupt practises and illegal activity be it in political sphere or financial sphere.

    Sadly, Armenia can never go forward as things stand it will get worse through people leaving Armenia,if immigration continues at this rate our future is grim.

    We need to change this situation through the rule of law,justice in all spheres of life,end this evil corruption by all officials and than we can be on the right path towards prosperity,but not as it is.

  16. Avery,
    Like one above noticed you have ,as a rule insightfull and …impartial too.But in this particular debate you will loose,believe you me!!!!
    Like, as-starters-Voskana`pat corectly points out America can afford,because (and I insist on that) of not being landlocked…
    In the interim now, I personally do not think Armenia has been >B ROUGHT TO KNEES for the Azero Truco BLOCKAGE..Far from it.We operate our TRUCKS to I R A N and Via Gerogia to Black sea ports ..on to RRRRussia and Europe.
    Soon very soon with a railway link via Iran to OCEAN GOING VESSELS PORT Khorramsharh to all over GLOBE..
    But ,if I use word Landlocked…is to state and point out to OUR WELL WISHING EUROPEANS AND AMERICANS that those to countreis in this century have C L O S E BORDERS WITH US!!!! HaSGCOGHIN barev!!!
    As to my stance in connection with this situation in Armenia (our Patria) no good Armenian would wish to see our brethren and sisters SUFFER YET ANOTHER five years of OLIGARKIG RULE there,plus Monopolisitic attitudes in Trade …we need real CHANGE there.But I ¨s u g g e s t ¨
    A TRANSITIONAL CONCILLIATORY GOVT. , so as to by and by with objective moves bring about a DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM (as the first one in its kind) in that part of the world.Yes,this is my outlook my perspection..with good honest MPs, Acabinet that includes in its Rank & File trhe afoementioned MERITED Parliamentaries not those there ,because of their wealth and connections!!!
    Thjen again, by and by better much better REAL Relations with Diaspora(latter to undergo quick change as well ,to enlap all of its factions and poeple,with merits).
    Once we have a re organzied Diaspora with a Supreme council and a National Investment Trust Fund, we can indeed realize REPATRIATION!!!! too,
    enough with fake ARI TUN …
    Even this latter can be shaped up.I have suggested those Young men and women that go to RA, besides sitting around bonfires with T shirts ARI TUN,should undergo a month or a month and half Military cadet traioning,which they cannot have in their countresi of residence.And those willing to Repatriat to RA/Artsakh from said fund to be gkiven LOANS..not hand ojuts AGBU styñe.Enough being beggars and donors……I´m tired someone pick it up from here–thanks for bearing with me…
    hama Haigagani sIRO

    • I think we should differentiate between political system, such as democracy, and economic system, such as socialism. I am not against socialism, if that’s what the people of Armenia want. But in order for the people to decide what economic model to have, they first have to have a democracy, so they and not the oligarchs will decide how the economy should be. I don’t think Armenia’s problems are because it has free unchecked market economy. Quite the opposite, Armenia’s economy is not free, it’s dominated by monopolies, and there is no rule of law, so noone wants to invest. Free market system can turn a country into an economic giant, whether it’s the U.S. or the tiny Singapore. But a democratic Armenia will be in a better position to decide how free its economy should be.

  17. You err,Pat.
    I appreciate what Vahagn writes above re my post. He has a point there too.
    May I explain furthermore that indeed, i know all about the advantages of free competition, free market economy…but i have SEE THIS AHPPEN IN SPAIN,where I lives 12 yrs under Franco’s regime*dictetorial,huge landlords etc., then another 13 yrs under Don.Felip Gonzales the Vice President of Internacional Socialista*btw his post is now occupied by our Maria Titizian..an ARF member….please excuse the diversion…Now then
    Spain and two more countreis dictetorial, nmamely Greece and Portugal *the three together underwent a Transitional period of some 12 yrs like Spain ,when I wass there.Some essential articles such a sgasoline, etc., was under strict control -passing from the Franco’s ,within this period of Euro Socialism -don’t mistake that ,let’s say Scandinavian Socialism with the Soviet or even hard line XXXXX socialism.We always hurry in coming to conclusions.
    Then having stablizied the Economy*(Politics and Economy go hjand in hadn) spometiomes referred to as Political Economy….
    Thence, having stabilized from Polarized Filthy rich landlords(in plain words) and the very poor to a more balanced Society then by adn by Those 3 countries were admitted into the European Union….NOT LIKE THE 15 EX SOVIET repulics …overnight from total Communist regime to the present WILD FREE MARKET ECONOMY…..
    Unfortunately Armenia and the rest 14 did the wrong thing DID NOT HAVE THAT TRANSITIONAL 10/12 yrs in order to then be like those in Western Ejurope.however, in the interim now.I am indeed very much aware that even those like Greece,Spain portugal NOW ARE IN FAILURE!!!! they need Merkel´s handouts!!!!!
    Why? I venture to opine that they OVERSPENT THE SUCCESS MONIES.have seen it with own eyes .I traavel to Europe every year. they have overbuilt hojuses centres overpasses, ultra modern Airports, new fast Trasin just to name a few adn thus the Treasuries are empty.indeed part of those spednings gone to the wind too!!!!!!
    In armenia we have tastged these 20 yrs the Wild free market economyu.I do believe time to curb that a bit ,rather quite a bit is < NOW!!!!!
    OTHERWISE THE COUNTRY MAY GO TO THE DOGS, SO TO SAY. we NEED TO STABILIZE IT,ESPECIALLY FROM dIASPORA…
    wE FIRST PUT OUR HOME IN dIASPORA IN ORDER, THEN invest through banks AGAINST MORTAGES……. NOT HAND OUTS OR CHARITY LIKE..I am not agaisnt what Armenia Fund ,AGBU and many many fundlings are doing.may God bless them and wish them success.But withese we cannot obtain headway.WEe need a fe ,rather serveral Billion dollars Investment Fund In cH and under our Magnates control in Diaspor and those people who like self believe in thus like INVESTMENT FUNDS ,byu our rather magnates monetary experts…TO FORGE AHEAD. HOPE SOME UNDERSTAND .tHJE IDEA OF dEMOCRATIC sOCIALISM WAS A N ABBREVIATION BY SELF TO ABOID ALL ABOVE EXAMPLES….
    arf INDEED CAN BE INSTRUMENTAL IN THIS ISSUE ALSO,IF THEY ALSO UNDERGO SOME ALTERATIONS SHJALL WE SAY IN THEIR STRUCTURE.. TO
    WHICH i DID REFER TO THAT THEY convert into what their forefathers commenced with that of ARMENIAN REVOLUTIONAY(s) Fed.Alos to change word from REVOLUTIONARU TO E V O L U T I O N A R Y…Hoep someone listens tyo this

    • You should not compare other states with Armenia, unless they suffered a genocide less than 100 years ago, suffered an earthquake 25 years ago, suffered war 20 years ago, are suffering a blockade going on 22 years now, and are landlocked with little to no natural resources to speak of.

      Also, why do you use capital letters to spell whole words, and why do you not write coherent sentences and paragraphs? I am not asking this to poke fun at you, but because reading your posts is rather difficult.

    • Gaytzag is a 90+ year old patriot who has seen the Francoist Spain. I would like to see you type when you are 90. Perhaps you should have some respect for our elders.

      Unless we want to suffer more genocides and remain landlocked, we should compare Armenia to others and see what we can learn.

    • I do respect elders, what I don’t respect are Armenians or others for that matter telling me that America is the model for Armenia.

  18. Pat and others,
    Not in the far past, Monte Melkonian was also from America. Was he on the side of the US or Russia? Neither, he was on the side of Armenia and Armenian soil. The proof: he gave his life for it, yet he also came from the US, same as Raffi Hovannisian. You cannot judge a person, because he came from the US or Europe. You judge him for what he is made of, for his intelligence and plotical views, and where his heart is.

    • Respect to Monte Melkonian. But this guy has nothing to do with him. Another era … another time ….
      It’s not because they come from the same place that are exactly the same.
      Sorry but this guy does not inspire me confidence at all, he’s hiding his game, for me he’s not clear enough and is a troublemaker.

  19. Random: {“ You’re starting to sound like a partisan shrill Avery.”}

    I think you meant ‘partisan shill’, No?
    You can be a shrill partisan, but ‘partisan shrill’ makes no sense.

    If I remember correctly you are an Armenian-American, born in the US, Yes ?
    I don’t know how many US elections you have participated in, but there are “voting issues” in every one of them that I remember over many years.
    Remember the “hanging chads” in Florida ?
    Remember the disappeared ballots in Ohio ?
    Need I go on ?
    Your statement that “There should be no voting issues…” is absurd.

    The way it works in Europe and US is that there is an election, somebody loses, somebody wins, and then losers wait for the next election.
    RoA being a new country, with its civil institutions and people evolving (democracy wise), and with lots of competing interests proactively working to destabilize RoA , has to endure the current insanity, unfortunately.

    And there certainly were issues, OSCE and other observers said so: but nothing that would make a difference for a 21% landslide win.
    The losers do not want to accept their legitimate defeat and are resorting to delusional theatrics.
    58% of 60% of Armenia’s electorate voted for President Serzh Sargsyan.
    37% of 60% of Armenia’s electorate voted for Raffi Hovanissian.
    Done. Next election.

    And since you are an American, you can appreciate the data below.
    Please tell me in which one of those elections losers claimed they actually won and demanded that the winner ‘transfer power’.

    United States Presidential Election, 2000
    Turnout 54.2%
    George W. Bush 50,456,002: 47.9%
    Al Gore 50,999,897: 48.4%

    Note: Yes, Gore actually won the popular vote, but Bush became POTUS because he won majority of Electoral votes.
    As per US Constitution.
    Bush 271. Gore 266.
    Imagine if that had happened in Armenia: there would be a near civil war.
    See below of how Americans handle election defeat.

    United States Presidential Election, 2004
    Turnout 60.1%
    Bush 50.7%
    Kerry 48.3%

    United States Presidential Election, 2008
    Turnout 61.6%
    Obama 52.9%
    McCain 45.7%

    United States presidential election, 2012
    Turnout 58.9%
    Obama 51.1%
    Romney 47.2%

    One final note: in US when the Presidential election is over, the loser congratulates the winner publicly and moves on.
    Done. Country’s interests are put above personal ambitions.
    I don’t like Al Gore much. But to his credit, after the controversial loss to GW Bush, he told his followers who wanted to continue protesting and mount a legal challenge: “…the election is over, GW Bush is the President of the United States”.

    It is time for all Armenian political parties and their members to learn from Americans and put the welfare and future of Armenia first.
    Great nations are great for a reason.

    • Yes, wouldn’t it be great if we could have a peaceful transfer of power, something that Americans are proud of. I am sure it’s a dream of many Armenians. Unfortunately, the reason that it can happen in the U.S. but not in Armenia is precisely because of lack of democracy in Armenia. In the United States, people have faith in their system, because it has worked so far despite all problems. As I mentioned in another post, the U.S. democracy has mechanisms–courts, lawsuits, investigations, due process–mechanisms that people can resort to without starting a revolution. These mechanisms exist because of the way the constitution and the system was set up from the start, with independent branches, checks and balances. It creates a sense of fairness that’s lacking in Armenia. Al Gore did not concede because he was more patriotic than Raffi, he conceded because he knew that if he kept going, his supporters would dwindle, and he would be rendered irrelevant. Because the people in the U.S. have faith in the basic system regardless of a particular result at a particular point of time. That allows them to move on to the next elections, which by the way happen every two years and not every 5 years like in Armenia.

      In Armenia, even Serzh won in reality, it would be irrelevant, because the authorities and their system no longer has any credibility. They have made too many violations for too long, and the people are sick of it.

      And unlike in the U.S., where changes happen because the people demand it, in Armenia changes happen only when there is outside pressure, which tells Armenians that the government cares more about what OSCE has to say than what its own people have to say. And that makes the people hopeless and angry because they do not feel that they own their country as they should.

      As for “Great nations being great for a reason,” the implication is that somehow Armenians are not a great nation *yet*, not as great as the Americans, that they still have to become great (when did the rednecks become more *great* nation than Armenians?). As I have said before, those who defend the current government of Armenia necessarily suggest that our people are less than perfect. I am of the opposite view–we are a great nation trapped in a corrupt state, and we deserve better. The second approach is better, because it’s much harder to change a nation than to change the government.

    • Vahan,

      There is no real democracy in the US. There is a two party system that allows the masses to choose between the lessor of two evils. It’s like your mom laying out two shirts for you, red and blue. You really need to stop comparing the American system with the Armenian system.

      Perhaps if you read Kirk’s the ‘Roots of American Order’ you’d see how the American system came about in an evolutionary method. It borrowed from other places but it was modified to meet the requirements of the 13 colonies. So to impose the American system on another country is counter-productive at best, and outright destructive at worst. There are some things that can be used from the US model but the totality of the model can not be replicated somewhere else and expected to function the way it does in the US.

    • Those are the election counts of USA. How reliable and clear are the elections in Armenia? The confidence in the results gives or takes away credibility from the person who becomes President.

    • {“Yes, wouldn’t it be great if we could have a peaceful transfer of power, something that Americans are proud of. “}

      Yes it would be: President Sargsyan won 58% of the vote. He won by 21%.
      Your candidate lost. He was crushed. But he has gone off the deep end now, claiming he ‘actually won’.

      It is you who is calling for protests in front of the Armenian Consulate in a foreign country (USA).
      It is you attempting to involve local Glendale politics in the politics of a foreign country (RoA).
      It is you who will not accept the immutable fact that your favourite candidate lost.
      37% loses to 58%. Big Time.
      It is you who is trying his best to create chaos and turmoil in Armenia and Glendale.
      It is you who is trying his best to prove to our enemies that we are disunited and ripe for a foreign sponsored color revolution or even military invasion.
      Your guy lost the election, fare and square. Ask him to please go back to his private life. Try again in 5 years.

      Congratulations re-elected President Sargsyan on your landslide victory.
      People of Armenia gave you a clear mandate to stay the course.
      God bless the 3rd Republic of Armenia.
      God save and protect her from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

  20. Clearly Avery you seem to be worried..bringing US election proprieties to compare with the tiny republioc*newborn,reborn RA.
    What if ,just what if aside from ARF,others join up -support Raffi and this like an avalanche picks up speed and sweeps over the whole country…
    You see,I respect and honour the civil system .that of a pres. is so , untill another takes over.So don’t worry much,Armenians know what I just said.they will respect Serge and Co. as long as latter also attend to their plea.Which I do HOPE sERGE AND cO. WILL.Otherwise it may create a rather uncomnfortable situation for the whole of Armenity.Because-even in my surrounding kin-some ,being very passive say,,,oh well all will go well,other country presidents have congratulated Serge, which THEY BELIEVE IS TANTAMOUNT TO green light!!!
    I don’t think so.Beg to differ.In my viewpoint \WHEN PEOPLE OF ANY COUNTRY ARE REALLY DISSATISFIED, their WILL, will be imposed soon or later.No any Power in the world can go against the Totality of a whole lot of people who are dissatisfied and treated carelessly…
    As a person that is non partisan but respects them all*ideologies.For how can you stop a man or a peopl or nation from worshipping say Budda.That is their God given privilege .Same applies to ideolgically oriented people and so the spiritually so.Armenians are by and by becoming educated to respect ea other’s viewpoints and tolerate ea other’s tendencies…
    This is what I also advocate very much.Incessant insistance on one doctrine will result Like the Nazim,communis,m etc., to F A I L U R E !!!
    I am not comparing what is transpiring in RA now with latter,but nonetheless it does somehow affect their psyche,especially having gone through a 70 and odd yrs of soviet socialist system now at once overnight another wild free market -so to say-Economy…my foot this is not a market econmoy at its mild level but a very very wild one.I neter a Store on one of those central Yeerevan ..apparel one to see if my kin’s articles might interest them*Honest to God allmight, the nicely dressed young man runs up to the entrance that has window panes next to it each 5 meters high..saying “”we dont sell anything below 500…..
    What Armenian Drmas or US bucks naturally i think so I meekly step back.Who patronzie these stores and buy there.Please tell me this is just one instance!!!!!!one example/then go to a far flung village and see what’ going on there or even like above said or on another thread the GARBAGE COLLECTING ISSUE IN YEREVAN DOWN TOWN!!!

  21. To AR,
    You are right.I should stick to writing in this format. Not in capital letters.Avoid them as much as possible. I´m sorry for that.Shall comply-As rgds your ¨¨why compare with other states¨¨ it was to try to explain that ours is not an exception .it went the wrong way. Change overnight from ultra despotism-communist regime to ultra,rather wild free market economy.Those 3 I point out went through a transitional period. Smooth transition is preferrable don´t you think?
    That´s why I also mention in other threads a Concilliatory-transitional govt. is in plac e now.In short Serge Sargsyan also to stay at post ,but with vice-pres.as Hirikian(now I shall disclose this,before I did not) as he speaks and reads (the minds) of the Russians or russian Schola Armenians quite well .We need him in that position to have aflexible ,rather heads of Glov.t and indeed Raffi can handle the FM perfectly with his stance of an International attorney ,plus diplomacy acquired all along 21 yrs….
    Hopefull something like this will come to pass.Otherwise those students that went on a demonstration today from YST,Yerevan State University were only a ouple hundred but there are close to 10,000 there……
    Smae now is occurring as rgds the regime at issue.if we desire to have it changed it must go through a peacefull process.
    I am glad today the students at YST Yerevan state university staged likewise a peacefull one.

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