A few hours after the release of Serj Tankian’s open letter to President Sarkisian, the website of the president of Armenia posted Sarkisian’s response (in English and Armenian). We provide the English text below, as it appeared on the president’s website, without editing.
My younger grandson is also our namesake. He is too young to know that he was born to descend a proud nation, small, overburdened with issues but still a citizen of a victorious and forward-looking country. He still has a lot to learn. Serj, you and me, all of us, shall report to him and his generation on what we have done, on what kind of a new homeland under Holy Mountain we convey them. Can you imagine questioning eyes of those to whom we shall report? You and me, Serj, all of us. Those eyes are childish and playful but tomorrow they are going to be serious and investigating.
What shall I tell them, Serj? Shall I tell them that I promised my people Secure Armenia, that I organized the best elections (even if with shortcomings, which, nevertheless, could not have had any significant impact on the outcome of the vote) in the 21-year long history of our country, and I could not have been able to consolidate all of our people and show them the path to the future? Shall I tell them that I took it serious and did even discuss “ultimate truths” stemming from thin air that has no relation to the state and statehood whatsoever? That is a mine, Serj, a mine threatening our coming several decades that will lead us to inevitable self-destruction. Our duty is to throw away mines that undermine our path towards development. The agenda of establishing law and order cannot be implemented by illegal means. Such an agenda will come to its end swiftly through similarly illegal ways.
I think little Serzh is going to be fan of your music, and what are we going to tell him when he asks us:
“Was the philosophy of displaced mines the bombing of all homes and villages?”
This is a State, Serj. We have dreamt about it extremely long. This State is yours and mine; it is the State of all of us. It is the State of little Serzh and of wonderful children of the Hovannisian family. It is the State of all our children and grandchildren. We have a paradise homeland, and our duty is to build a strong State. We have to build it together, Serj. The mines planted today will be threatening our children tomorrow, they will become Bellum omnium contra omnes, or the “the war of all against all”. And growing child will ask you:
“Where do you expect us to go when the bombs fall, Serj?”
What is our response going to be to them? Is it going to be that years ago we have been romantic and did not understand it? Is that our response? They will not believe us, Serj. They will read this letter and conclude most certainly:
“You saw it all when you looked forward, why did you go there?”
That is not our path. We are comrades on the matter of the path we embark upon. Indeed, it is time for change. Nobody can be above the law. Falsification and hypocrisy, impudence and hostility will destroy drop by drop and steadily our ability to cry wholeheartedly: “Freedom, we are free”. We need to do that in order to call upon all: “Back To the River Aras!” We need to do that, Serj, in order to embolden ourselves to look into the eyes and respond to the questions of little Serzh and of their generation.
For that exact matter I do need your assistance, and assistance of all of us be they from Glendale or Stepanakert, from Melbourne or Moscow. I believe in our collective victory.
And in conclusion I will address your question. You asked me if I was really sure, deep inside, whether I was the true chosen leader of our people or not. I respond to it that I have always been sure in whatever I have done be that battle command or organization of elections. One needs to feel Armenia, Serj, and it is not possible to feel it siting in an expensive office in downtown Yerevan, even if one sits there for too long. Armenia can be felt standing on the rocky land of a hamlet that struggles to continue its eternal path. Armenia can be felt of the green of flowers planted at a cemetery of our freedom fighters. Armenia spoke up, Serj, believe me.
That is all I wanted to tell you.
Please convey my best regards to your father, and let the proud message of the spring stork prevent us from choosing a wrong path.