Sarkisian Blames the People for Armenia’s Woes

President Serzh Sarkisian meets select members of the broadcast media during a rare press conference Monday (Official photo)

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

Beware citizens of Armenia (and to an extent the Diaspora) you are to blame for Armenia’s woes—poverty, lack of social justice and rule of law, emigration, economic monopolies, usurpation of power, the rape of the environment, election fraud… At least that’s what President Serzh Sarkisian, who according to his official results, won the election on February 19, believes and said during a rare press conference on March 18 with select representatives of the broadcast media.

“The biggest problem of our country is not corrupt officials. The biggest problem of our country is not criminals. The biggest problem of country is a cynical atmosphere. That cynical atmosphere must be eliminated,” said Sarkisian, who also laid the blame on this so-called atmosphere on certain media outlets. “At least two TV stations and dozens of print and online media outlets have been talking only about bad phenomena and only tarnishing everything.”

What Sarkisian is saying is that if the people didn’t believe what they read or saw on television, they would not be so “cynical.” Essentially, he is insulting the intelligence of his own citizens whose daily struggle for survival resonated when they cast their ballots overwhelmingly for change.

Even if the “official” elections results were not disputed, by sarcastically brushing aside the ills that have plagued Armenia for the past 22 years, Sarkisian is ignoring the will of some 40 percent of the country’s population by claiming that there is a rosier picture than meets the eye.

Another reality being ignored by Sarkisian is that according to official results 40 percent of Armenia’s voters elected a Diaspora Armenian as their leader, thus significantly bridging a massive gap left open by 70 years of Soviet rule and not closed by the efforts of Sarkisian’s own Diaspora Minister or Ministry.

Most striking was his effort to belittle the popular movement that sprung up as a result of flagrant fraud during the elections. The movement, led by opposition candidate Raffi Hovannisian, has been continuing for more than a month. Sarkisian’s attempt to downplay the post-election situation in Armenia is, at best, childish.

“When they say that the people are out in the streets it sounds very strange to me. On average, only 3,000 people participate in these rallies taking place in Liberty Square … Even if the opinion of every person matters to us, 3,000 people account for only 0.1 percent of our citizens,” said Sarkisian.

I will not go into the he said-he said about his February 21 meeting with Hovannisian, because his condescending attitude toward the people’s legitimate expression of mistrust and dissatisfaction far outweighs the palace intrigue he seeks to paint.
On emigration, Sarkisian said during the press conference, that those leaving for Russia—in droves—have the same opportunity in Armenia to establish a viable life for themselves, but leave due to the “cynical” atmosphere created in Armenia. During one of his campaign stops, Sarkisian talked about emigration saying that neither he, nor his government, can hold anyone “prisoner” in Armenia.

He also said there are no oligarchs in parliament, but rather successful businesspeople who through the toil of their sweat have achieved success.

At the more than two-hour long press conference, Sarkisian went on to outline some slight gains in Armenia’s economy, as well as the fact that presidential election campaign was not marred by mudslinging as signs of an improving country. He even went as far as to tell Yerkir Media’s Gegham Manoukian that ten years ago he would not be standing at the presidential palace asking questions of the president, because his television station is often critical of the government. So, the people—and the press—must finally rejoice that the freedoms ingrained in Armenia’s Constitution are being taken into consideration—however haphazardly and selectively—20 years later.

This “Rome wasn’t built in one day” analogy, which was also echoed by Prime Minster Tigran Sargsyan when he met with community leaders in Los Angeles, is tired and, more importantly dishonest. The people of Armenia are also tired of the dishonesty of the government and they see through the corruption that has become institutionalized in Armenia.

By usurping Armenia’s national wealth and distributing it among four or five people, causing a mass exodus of Armenia’s citizens to the four corners of world, the country’s president cannot turn around and blame his own people for the resulting chaos and misery. It is criminal.

Sarkisian’s reckless disregard for and dismissal of the people’s will is a harbinger of things to come. In the coming five years and at every turn, the public will have to bear the responsibility for the government’s misdeeds and impunity. By going on record, Sarkisian effectively has absolved himself of any responsibility toward his citizens.

The thousands that have—and will—gather at Liberty Square to express their discontent deserve better than to be spat upon by the person who claims is their leader.

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25 Comments

  1. Aramazd said:

    No he isnt, its just like listening to Fox Noise. Do you believe everything they say? Do you believe everything thats on the internet? IF you do, THEN you need to reexamine your evaluation of belief in a free press. Just because its free doesnt mean it isnt in the business of making money, and you make money by shocking people.

  2. Lusik said:

    Dare to post!

    ԵՐԿԻՇԽԱՆՒՏՅՒՆ` WAS, AND UNFORTUNATELY REMAINS, THE BIGEST POLITICAL DRIVE OF ARMENIANS. EVEN NIGHTMARE-LIKE LESSONS OF HISTORY DON’T STOP US FROM DESTROYING OUR HOMELAND WITH OUR OWN HANDS AND ACTIONS. THERE IS NOTHING BETTER THAN GOOD OPPOSITION. IF YOU ARE HONEST TOWARD ARMENIAN NATION, STAY POSITIVE AND CONTRIBUTE TO THE CONTINUES SUCCESSS OF THE COUNTRY. DON’T JUST CHALLENGE THE PRESIDENCY, THE TITLE ITSELF. OR THIS THE ONLY GOAL?

    MR. R. HOVHANNISISAN AND NOW YOU ALSO, SPEAKS ABOUT ELECTIONS AT LEAST IN A VERY NAÏVE WAY. LIKE A CHILD. IT IS AMASING HOW pro-COMMUNISTIC IS MR. PRESIDENTS-UNELECTED’S “PROGRAM”! WHEN AND FROM WHOM AND WHY DID HE LEARN AND NOW COPIES THAT STYLE. PEOPLE WERE ATTENDING “PARTY SCHOOL” TO LEARN SPEAKING THE WAY MR. HOVHANNISIAN SPEAKS WIHTOUT ANY EFFORT!

    MANIPULATION: WHAT IF I CLAIM NOW THAT 38% OF POPULATION WHO VOTED (IF IT IS TRUE) FOR MR. HOVHANNISIAN WERE SIMPLY FOREIGN COUNTRIES’ 5TH COLOMN IN ARMENIA. BY CLAIMING THAT I WOULDN’T BE MORE IRRESPOSIBLE THAN MR. HOVANNISIAN IS IN HIS INTERPRETATIONS OF THE REALITY. IT IS A FACT, REALITY THAT THE 5TH COLOMN EXISTS IN ARMENIA. READY TO OVERTURN UPSIDE-DOWN THE COUNTRY ANY TIME FOR ANYTHING. HUMAN NATURE. THIS IS THE ELECTORATE THAT MR. HOVANNISIAN WORKS WITH. BUT IS THIS THE SUBSTRATE WE WANT FOR THE FUTURE OF ARMENIA.

    ARA, JUST LISTEN TO THE WAVE OF THE HATRED AND SARCASM YOUR ARTICLE SENDS TOWARD ELECTED ARMENIAN PRESIDENT. JUST DON’T COUNT THAT NO OTHER PERSON IS AWARE OF WHAT PEOPLE OF ARMENIA SAY ABOUT THE ELECTION. WHY DON’T YOU START FROM FIRST SWOLLOWING YOUR AND MR. HOVHANNISIAN’S PRIDE AS WELL (BECAUSE HE IS ON A HUNGER STRIKE), AND ACCEPTING THE REALITY AS IS. THEN TRY TO COME UP WITH A PLAN THAT WILL DELIVER A CONFIDENCE THAT BESIDES EMPTY RHETORICS YOU CAN DRAW BLUEPRINT OF THE FUTURE AND CAN WORK HAMBLY ACCORDING TO THE PLAN TOWARD THAT FUTURE.

      • Hagop said:

        These posts always make me laugh. Since when did discussing very real issues and problems within Armenia become associated with Armenia’s downfall? What will destroy Armenia are the unaddressed problems that peoplle like Lusik and Avery cover up (or are at least apologists for) on a daily basis on the pages of the Asbarez and Armenian Weekly.

        • Avery said:

          then people like Lusik and Avery should write and you should read more of these posts: laughter is good for you.

  3. Robert Davidian said:

    YES! He’s out of touch with the people he’s supposed to be listening to! He even admits it! While Raffi is out, listening and talking and conducting TRANSPARENT democratic decision-making rallies daily, this ex-soviet fossil, Serzh, is locked up, away from the people, only talking with “select representatives of the broadcast media!” It’s no wonder steeling the election was the only way Sargsyan could remain in his “Thief-in-Chief” office! The contrast is obvious. So is the coming result.

  4. Hayq said:

    There is a partial truth to what he is saying. If you look at the reports that come out of Azerbaijan and Georgia, and in many cases Western news outlets that cover the Caucasus, you can see that the main focuses on Armenia are always the negative. Armenia’s neighbors to the North have one of the highest incarceration rates of any country along with an inflation rate of 10+% and our neighbors to the East are constantly being criticized for their human rights. Yet when it comes to the news coverage of these countries the harsh edges of reality are often blunted with “things could be worse.”

  5. Armanen said:

    Ara, you just proved Sargsyan point. The outright misrepresentation of Sargsyan’s press conference, as well as the psy-ops you and the USA Western Region ARF have been engaged in for a few years now, is PRECISELY, what Pres. Sargsyan is referring to. Can one truly and intelligently argue that social conditioning of the masses, as well as negative or positive stories put out by media not play a major factor in the establishing or guiding the psycho-social atmosphere of the citizenry?

    Change can not just occur from top down, it must be embraced by society as well, especially when one is speaking of positive development in all spheres. Asbarez and AW have shown the true face of the ARF, at least in the US, and it has lost all its nationalist credentials with rubbish it has been printing of late.

  6. Kevork Parseghian said:

    Hye turkagan tsavali yergkhosutian hatsatuli jamanag tghtagitsnerun mishd sheshdelem te yes uzumem hamayn hyutian nakhakah unenal yev voch mi hadvadsi negh sherchanagi nakhakah.yev aysor yegel a ore unenalu isgagan joghovurti nakhakah Raffi Hovhannisyane hye azki prgitche vor turs bidi pere ays dighmen.

  7. George said:

    Only respecting the law can guarantee the rights of the people, Mr. Sarkissan respect and implement the law, any body who breaches the law, judge him and if guilty put him in jail, it doesn’t matter who, starting from the judges and politicians, you will gain respect and do a great favor to Armenia and Armenian people.

  8. AraK said:

    I never fully trusted Sarkissyan, but I never thought he would go that low! He is a shameless opportunist (his brother is a well known crook) and a cynical person. The fish starts stinking from the head down, our government being the head.

  9. John Evans said:

    This article and the situation in Armenia today make me very sad. I know both Raffi and Serzh, and I believe they are both patriots of their country, the Republic of Armenia. They have very different life experiences, obviously, but neither one of them is either a devil or an angel. It is most unfortunate that they have not yet found a way to join arms and work together for the improvement of the conditions of life in Armenia, which, as anyone who has been there knows, do need improvement. Still, blaming others and finger-pointing is not the right approach. There are many good, sensible things that can be done, but miracles are not in the offing. Let’s hope that Spring and Easter will bring some enlightenment.

  10. Ari said:

    The Soviet mentality of the Armenian politicians remains unchanged. How sad!

  11. MK said:

    This is Armenia for you today under reign of corrupt and fraudulent serzh and his RPA party thugs.

    Unless and until they are all thrown out by the people and put on trial for their criminal activities nothing can and will change in Armenia.

    The west and Russia want such a corrupt leader to stay in power as it suits all their designs and agendas in the region,namely concessions on Artsakh issue,the treacherous Turkish protocols to stay on the table as it suits the USA.

    Russia to have a monopoly on Armenia’s mines and other minerals,keep its military base there,in other words we have allowed ourselves to become the tools of these foreign powers and criminal serzh is their executioner.

    I haven’t even touched on the subject of the rampant corruption in all spheres of this regime,injustices on a daily basis,terror, where people loose their lives and properties,fraud in all elections to date,and the net result has been that people are leaving Armenia by the thousands, only in the last 5 years under corrupt serzh over 300000 people have voted with their feet and left Armenia.

    This is treachery at the highest level.

  12. Teda said:

    In the last weeks the situation in Armenia is deplorable. The holy week started today and the armenian people deserve harmony in everyday life, but also in political life. Harmony means culture, faith, sacrifice and love.

  13. Baron's said:

    I think that as a nation we are hopeless…..there is no uniting force…no vision…no goal…just begging…begging for the genocide to be recognized…begging for America to give us aid (All of 40 Million $$$)…begging for Turkey to open the border…begging the world to recognize NK…begging Russia to protect us…you know what…Beggars don’t get anywhere…it is up to us to take our destiny in hand and to build our country….Odarnere Odar bidii menan..Menk Hayenk yev Hay bedke menank…

    • Margo kavijian said:

      unfortunately that’s bitter truth …begging never bring us to the target .we are worry …we want to build our country …

  14. Baron's said:

    Building our country should not be a difficult task…it is achievable and certainly feasible…We have many bright Armenians in every field…simply from driving taxis to designing Jet air crafts…. Look at what Israelis…(Deniers of Armenian Genocide) were able to accomplish…Look at what Singaporeans achieved…in such a short period of time….

    The question really is…are we Armenians ready to make it happen for us…or will we remain a forever Nomadic People….in seek of pity… I let you, my dear compatriots ponder upon this and answer the question….ARE WE READY are we ready to build our country…are we ready to give our children and our elders the peace of mind they deserve…are we just ready…you let me know…

    • Margo kavijian said:

      so important to take examples .great idea to look at the Singaporeans achievement …every single Armenian has this dream to build our country .we have to be ready .and give peace to our 1.5million “NAHADAGNEROUN ” thank you

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