Op-Ed: Time to Cure Armenia from ‘Levon the Virus’


Special to the Armenian Weekly

It is truly a sad reality that Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s name remains a relevant part of the Armenian political vernacular.

The first President of Armenia’s current Republic, who was forced to resign in 1998—two years after the first recorded rigged elections since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991—recently spoke at the Armenian National Congress’s convention, where he accepted to lead his party’s ticket in the upcoming Parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2017.

Levon Ter-Petrosyan (Photo: hraparak.am)

“Ter-Petrosyan the President” was noteworthy as arguably the most unpatriotic of leaders Armenia has ever had, while at the same time being a dream for foreign powers wanting to influence the future of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh/NKR).

First, to the delight of these foreign powers, he displayed an open preparedness to hand back Armenian-liberated Artsakh territories without any prerequisite acknowledgement of independence. This act of benevolence would be in exchange for “peace” and “good neighborly relations” with Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Second, to pave his path to deliver such an unacceptable policy to the Armenian world, he expelled the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and imprisoned the party’s members. This was despite the fact that the ARF was and remains the largest political party in the seven million-strong Armenian diaspora.

Finally, his falling out with Artsakh war veterans (including his successor Robert Kocharyan), who were gaining additional political influence in Armenia, led to his forced resignation.

Ter-Petrosyan, reincarnated once again (the last incarnation led to the deadly protests of 2011), rose to the podium his party’s convention, to outline the Armenian National Congress’s policies for the Parliamentary elections. His leadership of the Congress ticket means that he would become Prime Minister should his party win in April 2017—a position that would be critical by April 2018, when the Presidency evolves into a mere ceremonial role under Armenia’s adopted constitutional reforms.

For this return to political life, one would have thought that Ter-Petrosyan would have learned from his past experiences. One would have hoped that he would have a better reading of his constituents’ will after the unification of the Armenian world when Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh in April.

Well, if one thought and hoped for these things, one would have been very disappointed after listening to his 57-minute speech.

In this speech addressed to party faithful, Ter-Petrosyan decided to defend his legacy, particularly his “peace now” initiative, which was peace with Azerbaijan regardless of the cost of independence for Artsakh.

He said: “Had we gone down the path we suggested in 1997, which is the same proposal currently on the table [by major powers at the insistence of Azerbaijan], we would be living in a prosperous Armenia today…. The day after signing such an agreement, our relations with Turkey would be back on track with open borders. We would have no fear of war.”

According to Ter-Petrosyan, the proposal suggested in 1997 and again on the table today for President Serge Sarkisian to consider, is the return of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic to the state of Azerbaijan. This would ensure a return to diplomatic relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and a subsequent negotiation for what comes next.

The best case scenario of “what comes next” for Armenians is apparently a future referendum on an unspecified date, which would grant Artsakh some level of autonomy ultimately under Azerbaijan’s rule. Or, if the Armenian side is very lucky, the referendum could grant Artsakh the independence that it currently already has.

Luck, however, will likely not come to fruition, as Azerbaijan will seek to include Azeri votes to skew the results of any such referendum towards its favor.

Ter-Petrosyan added: “The primary reason that citizens are emigrating from Armenia in droves is the threat of continued war rather than the social or economic issues facing the country, such as corruption.”

He dismissed individuals and parties who have a more patriotic approach to the future of Artsakh as “not-one-inch of land-ers” («ոչ մի թիզ հողականներ»), referring to those on the farthest extreme from himself, who say that they refuse to give up any inch of the liberated territories to Azerbaijan. Ter-Petrosyan ignores this group as “impossible dreamers.” He paints himself as the “realist.”

Away from Ter-Petrosyan’s virtual realism and in reality, there is a majority in Armenian public life who sit somewhere in between the two extremes of “Levon the foreign power’s ideal mouthpiece” and the so-called “impossible dreamers who will give up nothing.” The argument in the middle seems to settle on a point that negotiations for land exchange will begin once Azerbaijan has formally recognized the independence of Artsakh. This guarantees Artsakh’s right to self-determination and verifies its current independence.

Despite this being the most consensual position in the public debate, it was not even presented by Ter-Petrosyan in his speech. He preferred to read from the script of the foreign powers, being guided by their petro-dictator partner and serial-butcher of Armenians in Artsakh, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. At one point, Ter-Petrosyan even referred to Aliyev as “a rational-thinking political operator”.

Many may smile in the belief that this diatribe by Ter Petrosyan at his party’s convention tucks him into the corner of irrelevance in the eyes of the Armenian voters. There is definitely an argument to be made there, as most Armenian voters do not trust Ter-Petrosyan and recognize him as the founding father of rigged elections, while a majority have raised their collective voices at any weakness in any Armenian administration’s position regarding Artsakh.

However, Ter-Petrosyan was not pitching to Armenian voters. He was pitching to foreign powers, like the United States and possibly Russia, who would love to have a leader ready to read their scripts when sitting in Armenia’s seat at the Artsakh negotiation table.

While these powers do not get a literal vote in Armenian elections, they have shown they can sway elections in many smaller countries that are not their own. They have been flexing their muscle in Armenia in anticipation to organize and support a leader fitting Ter-Petrosyan’s mold; one who will destroy the liberation of Artsakh with a promise of “peace now, and then perhaps something else later… or perhaps not.”

Ter-Petrosyan is a political virus and one cannot afford to underestimate viruses.

Armenian voters need to be very wary that there are well-resourced foreign players who will do all in their power to turn “Ter-Petrosyan the virus” into “Ter-Petrosyan the epidemic” and therefore “Ter-Petrosyan the Prime Minister” come the April 2017 elections.

Armenia must unequivocally reject Levon Ter-Petrosyan once again, and this time embarrass him into a final, irrecoverable defeat.

Haig Kayserian

Haig Kayserian

Haig Kayserian is the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Australia, with a Bachelors in Media & Cultural Studies (Macquarie University) and is currently completing his Masters in Politics & Policy (Deakin University). He is a director at several technology companies based in the US and Australia and is an advisory board member at Armenia’s first technology venture capital firm.
Haig Kayserian

Latest posts by Haig Kayserian (see all)


  1. You can clearly see that This man is full of vengeance. He only wants to prove that he was right twenty years ago and those who forced him to resign were wrong. The most ridiculous part of his statements is that Ilham Aliyev is “rational politician!” If Aliyev was rational, Azerbaijan’s economy wouldn’t be in shambles. In the last 10 years, Azerbaijan has sold hundreds of billions of dollars of oil yet the national currency has been in freefall for the last two years. It is a fact that 9 million Azerbaijan exports less(excluding oil and gas) than 3 million Armenia. This is certainly not what someone would expect from a country ruled by a rational person. Aliyev is a typical chauvinistic Turk, the only language he understands is force and you can never expect him to honor his pledges. To suggest that we will secure peace in the region by giving him land without getting anything in return is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard in my life. The Turkish border can be closed just as quickly as it can be opened. So what are you going to do Mr. Ter-Petrosian if you give Aliyev lands and after a few weeks he instigates another incident on the border and Turkey closes its border with Armenia agian?! You will ask “rational” Aliyev to open it? Maybe he will ask for a passage through Meghri to Nakhichevan this time, are you going to give that to him as well?!
    Sadly, Ter-Petrosian is still relevant because Armenians both in Armenia and diaspora have failed to build a democratic state which respects rule of law and human rights. Almost all the polls conducted in the last few years in Armenia show that the two most important problems for average Armenians are not Karabakh or war but economy and justice. Why is it that Mr. Kayserian writes an article criticizing Ter-Petrosian and his stupid remarks regarding Artsakh but he and the rest of diaspora leaders turn a blind eye on the numerous vote riggings that have totally destroyed people’s trust in Armenia and its future? Why is it that we are quick to condemn anyone who questions Artsakh’s independence but our leaders in California and Massachusetts smile and shake Serjik’s hand in front of cameras, knowing very well that he does not represent Armenians? Don’t blame Ter-Petrosian for what we have now in Armenia. We should blame ourselves for failing to say anything when they steal peoples vote, when they steal tax payer money and buy mansions for their kids in California, Czech republic or even Tbilisi!! We are quick to donate money for building a road or a school but we never thought about stablishing a fund that will help advance democracy. A fund that will help local independent NGOs have at least one independent observer in each polling station( in some remote villages Serjik gets more than 90% percent of the votes!!!).
    Dear ANC leaders in US, France and Australia, we appreciate what you have done so far for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and Artsakh’s independence but Armenia does not start with a genocide and ends with Artsakh, there are real people in Armenia who want what we have been enjoying in many diaspora communities. They are very strong, they can cope with poverty, with cold and empty stomach but they are tired of injustice. So don’t be surprised if they vote for this relic of the past called Ter-Petrosian.

  2. ….This act of benevolence would be in exchange for “peace” and “good neighborly relations” with Turkey and Azerbaijan…. HE sounds like a traitor than an Armenian leader.

  3. Societies that foster diversity prosper. When ideas flow to the same direction, they become dogmatic, resistant to evolution, and eventually will become hindrance for the progress. What is right or good for our nation? Should we compromise or we should have some self-respect? I am not sure. I do not want Levon to come any closer to Power. At the same time, the mediocrity that prevails in Armenian government is disturbing. But what I do think is that if we, as a nation become open-minded and allow different viewpoints (set of problems and approaches for resolving them) to express themselves,may be, just may be during this atmosphere of openness our true leaders will emerge.

  4. “The argument in the middle seems to settle on a point that negotiations for land exchange will begin once Azerbaijan has formally recognized the independence of Artsakh.”
    Which the Azeri’s won’t do in the next billion years or so. If you believe that’s the road to choose, you may consider yourself on the exact same level as the “impossible dreamers”. Ter-Petrosyan is right on this issue, giving back land around Artsakh in exchange for a referendum over it’s status is the only realistic solution. The things we have to fight for on the negotiation table before that happens, are guarantees that it will be the original population with the Armenian majority who get to vote and that they will get the option to vote for complete independence and/or joining Armenia.
    The alternatives are war, which would put what’s left of our once strong Armenia at unacceptable risk, or maintaining the current status quo, which has forced us into poverty and having to obbey to Russia in exchange for some form of security. The true patriot realizes we can’t afford ourselves to take those risks.

    • I dont agree, Giving back land actually restricts Armenia proper and makes it extremely vulnerable to protect: A WORSE security situation for Armenia requiring trusting others again (like 1915) No way. The Armenian army is the ONLY reason we are not totally gone today. The idea of “lands returned now for some fututre referendum” was 20 years ago idea. That idea originally was because the mediators knew that Azerbaijan leader would never allow a free Artsakh because hes a despot and could not stand the fallout domestically. It would be his own head. So why cater to him at all? Why doesnt Azerbaijan give in? Afterall Armenia WON THE WAR. I view another war a apossible means to liberate more lands. No one wants war but those lands are liberated. No need to give anything back.

    • Mikayel,
      Once you gave up lands the next step will be referendum, then Tatar Turks will issue “2 million” fake IDs as NKR former residence and they will vote entire Artsakhi Armenian population out. for sure UN will support the outcome of referendum with the help of Axeri petrodollars, and vote of 57 fake Islamic nations, with the help of Israeli paid propaganda and media outlets. Once again, Armenians will lose more lands peacefully toward Turkic herds, where always invaders chose our faith in our own historical Armenian Highlands. If we had more smart people and less stupid hungry traitors like LTP we should have never lost our historical Armenian Highlands, and we were Empire like Russia or others in volatile Caucasus region!

    • We don’t know if Mikayel Armenian. Everyone can write the comments. We have to remember our history. When we United we Win. We should have real Armenian leader like was Tigran The Great.

  5. How about this Ter-petrosian idiot coming up with a solution for getting our lost lands back, instead of him telling us about his stoopit idia of returning our land to azer’s and Turks like himself.

  6. I am utterly surprised this parasite even has the nerve to go public, much less try to justify his failure and treachery. Upon Armenia’s independence, this ‘Armenian Neocon’ tried to take advantage of the difficulties the nation was facing in order to score points for foreign states and interests at the expense of Armenia’s future.

    Looking back at that history, I admit I also see the ARF leadership as at fault for failing to deal with such traitors appropriately. Yeah I get it, we don’t want bloodshed, but the classic ARF would never have taken his BS sitting down.

    And looking back at more history, treachery and anti-patriotism is not something he came up with on a whim as “president”, it runs in his family starting with his father’s betrayal, and I think we don’t need to give further details.

    Finally, there is something to also be said about a certain unimpressive segment of Armenia’s population. I cringe at the fact that there are still Armenians supporting this worm. Is it ignorance? Hopefully. But certainly for some others, it is a lot worse than ignorance. To the point of a potential existential threat for Armenia. In this context he might serve his purpose of exposing all the “realistic thinking” useful idiots of the foreign interests. It would certainly help learning exactly who these people are, what they’re up to, and to keep tabs on them.

  7. You all seem to forget it’s not any peace of Artsakh that would be returned but the surrounding lands. Please, tell me whats your best alternative solution? Yes we won the war, you guys want a new one? If you think the economy/democracy is in bad shape now, imagine what it will be like then. It would put not only Artsakh but the future of all of Armenia at great risk. Ofcourse Aliyev isnt to be trusted, thats exactly why the negotiations should be focused on security measures.

    • They are alive and on their own property independent for 25 years. That’s because they didn’t capitulate and give inn during the first war as your suggesting to do now. The Turks plan is for Artaskh and Armenia to be completely gone. How do you reason with that? That’s not going to go away by “returning lands”. It just makes their plans one step closer. We must be prepared for war. I believe its actually safer and a better guarantee. Yes a realistic agreement will require some lands returned. But right from the start? And without final determination of Artsakh? No it should start with all involved declaring Artsakh free and independent right now. THEN and only then, the final borders negotiated.

  8. What a horror this Ter-Petrosyan character turned out to be. He is certainly the exact type of prime minister (firmly opposed to the Armenian Nation and the Armenian Cause) that the United States, Europe, Russia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan would wish for Armenia to have. Giving away the Armenian province of Artsakh to Azerbaijan (which would surely result in another Armenian Genocide), and abandoning the Armenian Nation’s pursuit of the long overdue justice owed to it for the Armenian Genocide just to establish “peace” and “good neighborly relations” with those two intensely anti-Armenian states of Turkey and Azerbaijan, is precisely what they would wish for.

    When that dope of Ter-Petrosyan (who regards Azerbaijan’s terrorist leader, vowing to destroy Armenia, as being “a rational-thinking operator”) speaks about “peace” and “good neighborly relations” with Turkey and Azerbaijan in exchange for all of the above, does he really believe these absurdities or is he under the influence of the dope that he smokes? Well, if this “exchange” were to take place under his rule, we all clearly know what would happen next; yes, the next step would be Azerbaijan’s attempt to seize that little strip of Zangezur, which if successfully accomplished, would finally connect Azerbaijan with Turkey, and would result in Armenia’s demise. The Turks and Turkbaijanis will never accept any kind of “peace” until they succeed in their mission of destroying Armenia once and for all.

    But anyway, in the upcoming 2017 elections (which are hopefully going to be free of election rigging), I’m fully confident that the citizens of Armenia will not elect that weak Ter-Petrosyan dope. On the other hand, how I hope that one day very soon, our Hayastan will be blessed with a leader who’s truly devoted to the citizens of Armenia, and will work tirelessly to fix their problems and make their lives better; a leader who will fight for the justice owed to the Armenian people, and will never allow any of these rogue world superpowers to dictate how he should go about handling his country’s affairs; and finally, a leader who’s savagely uncompromising in regard to the Armenian Cause, and will never yield to the enemy, nor give them one inch of our precious Armenian land.

  9. Clearly whoever wrote this is a short sighted oxygen thief. Your political party allegiance has blinded you and crippled your mental capacity. ARF is like an outdated bitter old man, constantly complaining about the political climate in our country but yet they don’t realize they are a big chunk of the black cloud over our people. At least, amongst any president we have had, LTP had the love and respect for his country and people to resign. Of course ARF won’t see it that way because during LTP’s presidency you weren’t given a hoot about and were simply marginalized. So i can see the reason for the bitterness but i urge you to come to terms and accept the fact that you and anyone else living in diaspora does not speak on behalf of the people IN Armenia who value LTP. The views of ARF are a not a drop in the bucket, they are the drop on the outside of the bucket. The real virus in our country is our political parties, namely the republican (ruling party) and the ARF. What is truly sad is we have no respect for a former President who peacfuly resigned and hence as a “gift” we received 2 criminals as presidents. Thats the reason he remains relevant and for the reasons above you will lack the capability to ever see that noble act and value a leader of LTP’s stature. Opinions are great but when you are vengeful and lack the mental ability to understand they become hate speech, just like your article. Therefore, in this case at least, LTP can explain his ideas all he wants but he can’t understand them for you or anyone else that doesn’t get the bigger picture.

  10. President Levon TerBedrossian betrayed his people. He not only thru out the A.R.F. out of the country, but he made millions between him & his brother whom sold all the shoe factory & textile factory machinery to the the Iranians leaving the people with no work and his failure to move troops into Nakhichevan our Historic Lands that the Soviets & Turks took away from us back in 1922, The Armenian Government has failed to bring these issues up before the United Nations.

    • Then recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Your country is a slave of turkey and azeri. You still don’t realize to what extent sahakashvili hurt your country. Sahakashvili is a Georgian Levon.

  11. “At least, amongst any president we have had, LTP had the love and respect for his country and people to resign.”

    But yet, LTP has plans to return back and once again become Armenia’s leader. Therefore, by taking this path after his previously horrendous performance as the “president,” he is again showing how much hatred and bitterness he has towards Armenia and its citizens.

    “What is truly sad is we have no respect for a former President who peacefully resigned and hence as a ‘gift’ we received 2 criminals as presidents.”

    So, because LTP peacefully resigned means that the Armenian people should respect him? That is indeed absurd! And what’s truly sad is how you attempt to portray LTP as not being a criminal; on the contrary, he was a big criminal. The corruption which exists within the Republic of Armenia today, did not begin with Sargsyan or Kocharyan; it began with LTP. As a matter of fact, it was LTP who happened to be behind the Republic of Armenia’s first rigged presidential elections.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.