Opposition Tactic Backfires: The Imperative for Diplomacy 101

Zaruhi Postanjian

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

On Wednesday, opposition parliament member from the Heritage Party Zaruhi Postanjian found herself in the middle of maelstrom of controversy and attack after she chose an unlikely forum to lash out at the Armenian president. This further highlights the lack of diplomatic finesse that plagues Armenian representatives as they travel the world under the banner of the Republic of Armenia.

Following Sarkisian’s speech at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe session in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Postanjian, using her pulpit during a Q&A session, chose to ask Sarkisian whether he had gambled away 70 million euros in a European casino and who had paid for his losses.

After accusing him of vote-rigging during the last election cycle in Armenia, Postanjian said: “That is why you cannot de jure represent the will and the rights of the Armenian people here. I will therefore ask you another question. Have you been to a European casino lately, and — since you are known to the public as a gambler — did you lose 70 million euros ($95 million) there and who paid for your loss?”

“Mrs. Postanjian, I am deeply convinced that I represent the Armenian people and I am proud of that,” Sarkisian responded. “I have never been to any casino in Europe, I don’t gamble, and unfortunately I don’t have 70 million euros at my disposal,” he said. “If I had such a chance I would donate part of [that sum] to you to make sure you are happy with life and do not accumulate so much malice.”

This exchange set off a firestorm with social media networks in Armenia and Diaspora lighting up with criticism and some over-the-top name calling, which is neither befitting a politician nor an elected official representing Armenia in a foreign country.

This incident also promoted members of the Republican Party of Armenia to stoop lower than usual in their rhetoric with one Republican member, Karen Avagian writing on his Facebook page, “Today Zaruhi Postanjian was more of a Turk than any Turk, more of an Azerbaijani than any Azerbaijani.”

Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan, on the other hand, has threatened to strip Postanjian of her seat in PACE, calling her remarks “slander.”

In his speech at PACE, Sarkisian made plenty of statements that could have been criticized, even by his own delegation members. For example, Sarkisian asserted that Armenia was a democratic country adhering to European norms and that people’s right to free speech and press were protected.

This and many other statements could have been easily countered given Armenia’s poor record in protecting those essential freedoms. But Postanjian, for some reason, opted to use the international forum to criticize the leadership based on street gossip and innuendo. This certainly weakened the already fragile credibility of the Heritage Party.

It was also a surprise coming from Postanjian who has been a staunch advocate of Armenia’s rights in the European forum and has garnered praise from various facets of Armenian political life for her role in advancing Armenian interests, especially as it pertains to the continued Azeri efforts to lie and use propaganda to get their feeble points across, especially at PACE.

Postanjian should have exercised more thought and diplomacy, but the entire episode is emblematic of a political system that has advanced individual aspirations of officials over the will of the people they represent.

Amot! Shame!

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20 Comments

  1. Ani K said:

    Worthless people.
    We have no government and no opposition… Poor people of Armenia! :-(

  2. Tsayt said:

    How sad! Unfortunately President Sarkisian is a two-bit oligarch with the title of “President of Armenia”, and has obtained that title by stealing and vote rigging. Therefore, to me he has to be opposed and throwin out of office as soon as possible. Having said that, even I would not have descended to cheap name-calling in such a high platform as is the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe. Zaruhi Postanjian has just proven that she neither belongs in the delegation representing Armenia abroad, nor she belongs in the parliament of Armenia. Cheap, “barefooted” (i.e. trailer-trash) politicians bring down the country as much as thieves and oligarchs.

  3. Simon Aynedjian said:

    The lack of political culture from the opposition competes well with the bravados of the government.
    No excuse for this kind of behaviour Ms. Postanjian.
    Shame indeed !

  4. Haroutoin said:

    “Today Zaruhi Postanjian was more of a Turk than any Turk, more of an Azerbaijani than any Azerbaijani.” Using this kind of racist rhetoric is not helpful to our cause either. Using the word “Turk” as an insult is the exact kind of sloppy hate speech used against Armenians by racist Turks and Azeris. We need to be above that.

  5. Artoush said:

    Shame on you Heritage party, shame on you Raffi Hovannesian and shame on you Zarouhi Postanjian to wash your dirty clothes when representing your country in an international gathering.
    Raffi you shuld expell Zarouhi from your party. She is not woth called a diplomat. She doesn’t know how, where and when to talk. Once again shame on you all.

  6. vartan said:

    Sarkisyan and postanjyan are both uneducated in public presentation. we know sarkisyan lies all the time on the other hand postanjyan yell and screems all the time.go figure who is criticizing whom.

  7. An Armenian said:

    Perhaps she and her party fell into a trap set up by the authorities in Armenia. A few days prior to this meeting, wasn’t Ms. Postanjian and her entourage stopped by Russian soldiers on some road in Armenia where they got into a squabble and the Russian soldiers broke the video camera that was filming the incident? In addition, don’t forget that the founder of the Heritage party, Mr. Hovanissian, was pushed and fell to the ground during one of their Yerevan rallies. Another one of their leaders was beaten up and had a bloody nose some time ago as well. I suppose her behavior might be attributed to the culmination of some of these events. However, in my opinion, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was the wrong venue to try to settle the score. After all, the EU leaders know very well all about Serzh Sarkisian and his cronies and their doings. For political expediency, they choose not to acknowledge them.

  8. Samuel Darbinian said:

    The last thing Zaruhi Postanjian must do & serve her nation must resign & apalogize Armenian nation & president of the country, also Armenian courts ask her bring all documents of accusations if she had on her passasion against president, & arrange a fair trial for her, Also it is in demand Heritage party leaders esp.Mr
    Rafi Hovanesian express their their reaction in this regard.

  9. Arto2 said:

    “It was also a surprise coming from Postanjian who has been a staunch advocate of Armenia’s rights in the European forum…”

    Actually it is not a surprise since it’s not the first time she has done this to the president of our nation infront of other countries causing much pleasure amongst our enemies. I think it highlights the professionalism of this person and the party she represent. She should immediately be stripped of all her titles and never allowed to enter any government job. Lets see how decent our wonderful Raffi is whether he protects her position or kicks her out of the party. Trash like her should be sifted and thrown out to end up in Los Angeles and disappear into obscurity. That’s where she belongs and certainly not representing our country infront of the world. Now we get to see the wonderful results of the poisonous doses of cynicism and negativity our president was referring to and we have our foreign sponsored media outlets to thank for contributing to much of it.

  10. Gazzo said:

    Who put her up to deliver such a slander to our president in front of an international forum . ? If she did it on her own it demonstrates a frail and brittle personality, devoid of the basic elements of diplomatic tact, and a spiteful behavior. Her mind can not be right, she can not be trusted with handling diplomatic matters. She should be relieved of all her appointments. We don’t want to see her again with Armenian diplomacy in any international forum.

  11. GeorgeMardig said:

    Asking a baseless question = accusation, this should be investigated, if not true than lawful steps should be taken against her

    .

  12. zograp said:

    hey
    Զարուհի Փոստանջյանը …du anuxex hivand es, anhapax kariq unes hogebuyji,

  13. Papken Hartunian said:

    She should have been arrested then and there by the PACE securities, if they had any respect to our President. An arrest warrant should be issued for her arrest by the government of Armenia. I lost all of my respect to her. All Armenians around the world have been defamed by her unlawful conduct.
    She should be stripped of citizenship of Armenia as well.

  14. Suren said:

    I would remove the word Shame from the article, please. You did not give enough of a heated or logical argument on why it is shame and as a pro-ARF paper, its a shame for you to put down other credible opposition members. Where is the opposition unity? It comes from within as well.
    Her actions are definitely worthy of criticism but there is still many people in Armenia who respect her even more for this.

  15. GB said:

    The facts, every Armenian agree, that country run by bunch of oligarchy corrupted unionized traitors not by Parliament…. people are leaving the country base on Armenia’s inability to get rid of those uneducated Armenian Barons, where some people like Raffi, Serge and Zaruhi are responsible for that!!

  16. sergey said:

    And we critisize the Azeri’s, I am ashamed at the conduct of these people. Why choose such an event to shame your nation and insult your President? Even though her accusattions may be right, this woman should not have dragged the mud into the international arena in such a distaseful and childish manner. She has only herself to blame and should apologise.

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