Absurdity and irresponsibility

Author: Susanna Petrosian, Yerevan, exclusively to VK


Today Armenia votes in presidential polls. There are seven presidential candidates, but experts believe the clear election is incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan. Election campaign in Armenia was very active and memorable mainly because of hunger strikes and an attack on one of the candidates Paruyr Hayrikian, who later tried to form an intrigue with postponing the voting day, but later he abandoned this idea.


The absence of serious political struggle was reflected in such an important field as foreign policy. Statements by some of the presidential candidates on major foreign policy issues looked odd, if not absurd. According to the head of the Center for Regional Studies Richard Giragosian, in the current presidential race there is a primitive, low-level foreign policy discourse, in which Armenian-Iranian, Armenian-Georgian relations, the Armenian-Turkish process and even the possibility of opening the airport in Stepanakert are very little discussed.


Watchful attention was caused the statement of the leader of "Heritage" party, presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisian on prospects of relations with neighboring Turkey: "By 2015, either the border between Armenia and Turkey will be opened without preconditions, or on April 24 in Tsitsernakaberd we will sound our preconditions to Turkey. A major priority of our political agenda will be genocide recognition, compensation to relatives of victims, the guaranteed return of descents of the Armenians affected by the genocide to their land, and a new agreement on the delimitation of the Armenian-Turkish border, based not on the Bolshevik-Turkish acts of 1921 but on the modern international law". The former U.S. citizen whose family continues to live in this country did not specify whether his own family and he himself would move from prosperous California to the land of their ancestors in such a case, whether his sons will serve in the Armenian army to implement the ideas of their father, or only the voters of Raffi Hovannisian will have this right. Given the present condition of the balance of power in the region and the real possibilities, this statement by Hovannisian can be qualified as irresponsible.

Giragosian called the position of Hovannisian considered to be the main rival of the incumbent President regarding the Armenian-Turkish relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict too harsh: "As forhe issue of the Armenian-Turkish relations, Hovannisian has a much harder position than ARF. Hovhannisyan is more Dashnak than Dashnaks themselves. "

The perplexing of the political and expert community was also caused by the statement by President Serzh Sargsyan on the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. In particular, in February, the president said that the Armenian "genocide" and "Meds Yeghern" ("great massacre") were synonyms. This statement was honored with critical assessment not only of traditional parties like "Dashnaktsutiun", but of the political forces, for which recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not the key issue, it is about the Armenian National Congress (ANC).


The representative of the Committee for Foreign Affairs of ANC Vladimir Karapetyan drew attention to the fact that the political agenda includes the issue of recognition not of "Yeghern" but of the "genocide." "" Genocide "has international significance. In Armenian "Yeghern" is its synonym, but it is not an international term. In the plane of morality this is really the same thing, but when we talk about the recognition of the genocide by the international community, especially in terms of non-repetition, the emphasis definitely should be on internationally accepted term - "genocide", Karapetyan says. - "There is no need to replace the international term by its Armenian synonym". In 1988, the Armenian Supreme Soviet adopted a law recognizing the Armenian genocide, which clearly stated the term. Therefore, the statement by Sargsyan that the term "genocide" and "Meds Yeghern" are synonymous can be characterized as a violation of the international law.


Radical, apparently intended for internal users, applications of some of the presidential candidates on the need to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh are also interesting. Moreover, such statements are made by former senior officials with direct relevance to foreign policy - the ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Hovhannisyan and the former Foreign Minister of Nagorno Karabakh Arman Melikyan. So, Hovannisian said that after being elected president he will promote the recognition of the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, "Not recognizing Karabakh is equal to giving up national interests." "If I am elected president, I will initiate the process of recognition of the NKR, and this process will run parallel to the negotiations within the OSCE Minsk Group, it will be its welcome addition," Melikyan said. Some political scientists say that, such radical statements are only pre-election trick, and such radical ideas should not be thrown into the public consciousness.

Apparently, the former officials of the realm of foreign policy against the background of their "patriotic" statements would have to remember that Armenia has undertaken a number of international commitments, particularly within the framework of the OSCE. The Karabakh conflict, in contrast to all other conflicts in the former Soviet Union, is the only one the negotiation process around which was never interrupted. NKR recognition by Yerevan can be seen in Baku as getting out of the negotiation process, which in turn can cause the outbreak of the war, as the termination of negotiations in the Georgian-Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhazian conflicts led to war.  The current presidential race is characterized by the pursuit for momentary sensations - one candidate accuses another in the attempt on the third. In particular, such a statement was made by Vartan Setrakian, who accused Hovannisian in the attempt to Paruyr Hayrikian.

The absence of real competition, predetermined election results, candidates fighting not for the first but for the second place, the competition between candidates, who, except for the president, have no serious political force - all this has meant that the bar of the presidential elections in Armenia decreased by several orders. Reckless statements by some candidates were only one consequence of the absence of real political struggle. This will surely take effect on the political processes, because the political life is not limited to elections.