Beyond the Walls of the National Assembly

(Photo: RA National Assembly, August 6, 2021)

An editorial from the Hairenik, translated from the original Armenian

“In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory, or an unjust interest.” William Penn (British writer and thinker, 1644-1718)

More than three centuries ago, a genius named William Penn was persecuted in Britain and escaped to America, where he established the state of Pennsylvania in 1682, as a place where people could enjoy freedom of religion.

The US Constitution is based on the democratic principles conceived by Penn.

Clearly, this anecdote has no connection to today’s Republic of Armenia, which sits thousands of miles from Penn’s New World and where on August 2nd, a newly-elected National Assembly commenced its session. However, perhaps Armenia’s newly-appointed ambassador to the United States should read these thoughts closely, as they may be helpful for the playbook she will need in her new role.

This playbook certainly takes a very long time and professional experience to craft, because she enters a profession where mastering the language of Uncle Sam is the most basic precondition. But the mission does not end there. That is why circles of Armenians in the United States are deeply concerned.

If from the newly-appointed ambassador’s point of view, Penn, his Pennsylvania and the United States Constitution seem to have fallen far short of the Armenian National Assembly, the above-mentioned leading thought is much more appropriate for the politicians gathered on 19 Baghramyan Street in Yerevan.

From the side of the Civil Contract representatives, who secured 71 seats with familiar tricks and made up the majority, the debates are meaningless, without insightful analysis and transparent diagnosis of essential and alarming issues. Those who follow the discussions probably have the impression that the questions presented by the opposition representatives were a waste of time, demanding accountability for the outrageous shortcomings and omissions and sounding the alarm (we would say repeating). The reality is that by avoiding the truth mentioned by Penn, the obsolete “dark accounts” and partial interests are pursued by the obedient henchmen of the mob prime minister.

In front of the new “medzamasnaganner” (a Soviet-era term meaning the majority of Communist party representatives), the opposition’s remarks and observations, no matter how appropriate, seemingly fall on deaf ears.

It is just as obvious that the people outside the walls of the National Assembly, just listening to and witnessing the dispersed debates, seriously follow the words of those on-stage and begin to become aware of many things that the pro-government propaganda machines themselves were hiding from him.

How fair was it, and what was the content of the concern of Knyaz Hasanov, the oldest member of parliament, addressed mainly to the opposition deputies, that “the outside world is watching what is happening inside the assembly?”  Surely, the honorable Hasanov and his masters should be much more concerned with what is going on far from the chambers of the assembly, with threats at the border mounting and multiplying each day.

These concerns underpin the words of the Armenia Alliance’s Armen Rustamyan. “We say that the situation is getting worse. Our problems are deepening,” he noted. “The challenges will increase…until we find out the real reasons for [the 44-day war] defeat. We have not prevented the dangers of defeat,” he continued. “How do we talk about overcoming the crisis?” 

The representatives of the opposition front reminded from the very beginning that if a solution to the difficult crisis in Armenia and Artsakh is to be found, it will start by pushing the “reproduced” ruling group out of the political arena so that the slogan “There is a future in Armenia” does not stay obsolete but brings the country peacefully from the path of persecution and to the recovery of losses.

Thus, the start of the National Assembly was a signal that the path of struggle is long, thorny and complicated.

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