BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
The ongoing dance between President Serzh Sarkisian and Armenian National Congress leader Levon Ter-Petrosian continued Thursday as the latter claimed victory to his supporters by saying that recent overtures by the president have enhanced the climate for dialogue.
Ter-Petrosian also claimed that the authorities had given in to three of his main demands outlined earlier this year in his version of manifesto. Several weeks ago, Sarkisian told law enforcement agencies to conduct a thorough investigation into the March 1, 2008 clashes following the presidential election. Earlier this week, the ban on gatherings and demonstrations in Liberty Square were lifted and, during a press conference Wednesday, Sarkisian praised the “extra-parliamentary opposition” and signaled that more prisoners—Ter-Petrosian loyalists—will be freed.
These gestures from both sides are self-serving, at best. However, the real danger will be if this so-called “dialogue” turns into collusion, which will set Armenia back decades. In the end, the Armenian people will pay the price, once again.
“In this process, the people are becoming a tool, an observer,” Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s Armen Rustamian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Thursday. “Under the worst-case scenario, those political forces will agree on something but the people will eventually gain nothing from that.”
“Right now I don’t see signs that this dialogue will lead to a meaningful improvement of the existing situation,” added Rustamian.
After all Sarkisian and Ter-Petrosian are birds of the same feather. It was their mutual interests that guided Armenia’s domestic economic and foreign policies in the early days of independence and has turned Armenia into a monolithic oligarchy and has not created an atmosphere where new—young—leaders can emerge and true change can be implemented.
As early as last week, Ter-Petrosian was reiterating his failed position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, when he told the BBC’s Russian service that if Karabakh lands were given back to Azerbaijan, the conflict would have ended a long time ago. He also claimed that he was not allowed to see this brilliant vision through due to opposition from Karabakh and his inner circle.
Armenia’s current situation on all fronts is dire and neither Ter-Petrosian nor Sarkisian are proposing any concrete changes to turn the tide and initiate positive change. Both men are motivated by securing their place in authority and as we’ve seen in the past, self-righteously rule over Armenia rather than lead it.
Perhaps after this “dialogue” (if it ever transpires) will once and for all convince Armenia’s voters to abandon these Soviet vestiges that have looted the national wealth, consciousness and psyche and look inward to find alternatives who can properly lead and strengthen the Armenian state.
It is up to people to end this political grandstanding by claiming their rights as citizens.