Sarkisian Abruptly Cancels Press Meeting

The message from Sunday's protest

The message from Sunday's protest

Late Sunday evening, officials at Horizon television received a call from Armenian Consulate staff informing them that a scheduled press meeting with President Sarkisian on Monday was canceled. Moments later, another phone call confirmed that, in fact, a briefing with the press would take place but instead of the president, his chief of staff, Vigen Sargsyan would address reporters’ questions.

Only three television channels—Horizon TV, H1 and USA Armenia—were invited to take part in the exclusive television discussion with the president. It never took place.

Instead reporters were treated to a haphazardly organized meeting at the Beverly Hilton. Upon their arrival, the reporters were seated in a room awaiting Sargsyan. Moments later, the journalists were informed that there would be a change of venue, eventually settling in at the lobby of the hotel for an “informal” question and answer.

The entire Diaspora tour has been carefully crafted to exclude the press. Despite curtailing participation of the more than 20 or so news outlets in Los Angeles, we were encouraged and were anticipating the television discussion with the president. However, the abrupt cancellation and reformatting of the event signaled a blatant and reckless disregard toward the press. This approach has been the hallmark of the Sarkisian administration from the onset of the protocol process, if not earlier.

In Armenia, the voices of dissent toward the protocols are also not being heard, as the mainly state-run media, with the widest reach across the country, is misinforming the public on the extent of opposition to the protocols.

This recent admonition of the media goes to strengthen the argument that the much-hailed Diaspora tour—“pan Armenian tour”—is nothing but a choreographed publicity stunt to avail the president of his responsibility to include the Diaspora in this critically important national issue.

The public outrage and disapproval of the protocols has been quite evident thus far on the Diaspora tour. Protesters in France were violently beaten by police, providing fodder for the Turkish media, which immediately labeled the protesters as unruly.

If the president’s aim was to elevate his and the Armenian people’s image he has failed miserably because not only has he alienated the Diaspora, he has also created the image of a nation divided. Sarkisian’s callous approach to this matter also paved the way for Turkish president Abdullah Gul to wag his finger and say that if the Diaspora were truly concerned about the Armenia’s future it would support the protocols and encourage peace in the Caucasus.

The president and his apparatus can rest assured that despite their meticulous efforts to shut out the press, we remained vigilant to our mission and provided the most in-depth coverage of his visit, not only from the protest but also from within the community meeting with constant updates on Twitter and Facebook. We did, however, exercise our right to not cover the gala banquet honoring the president, deeming the event tactless and insulting.

It has become increasingly clear to our audience that the key figure in this charade, namely president Sarkisian, has been missing in action. His refusal to appear in public or address the press shows a level of cowardice that further increases the inherent risks of the entire protocol process.

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  1. John said:

    If Sarkisian indeed has shown cowardice, which I totally agree, in his behavior vis à vis Armenian discontent in his charade called “protocols”, then someone should really address the issue of the other charade which is the ongoing ARF inaction in Armenia vis à vis this same president of Armenia. If ARF in Armenia has any credibility left, they should immediately demand the resignation of President Sarkisian.

  2. Karine Macri said:

    Sarkisian’s inaction is mind boggling at best. Add to this, the U.S. State Department’s aggressive desire to want to “wrap things up,” and Turkey’s smug attitude, I’d say a conspiracy is at the root of this evil. The cost? unimaginable at this point. Exactly how much money is exchanging hands while our martyrs wait for justice? Just how many back door deals are taking place as Armenia is raped once again, this time by one of her own.

  3. Sebouh Akharjalian said:

    Indeed President Sarkisian has proved himself a genuine coward and a traitor to the Armenian cause.

    All respective democratic nations in the world call a referendum especially when it relates to nationial interest of both Armenians of diaspora and the Armenians living in Armenia.

    Otherwise, signing the Protocol deals without the consent of the Armenian people will be considered illegitimate as if no deal was signed in the first place.

    Unfortunatly, his style of leadership reminds the viewers of the old Soviet leadership.

  4. Areg Mansuryan said:

    There is one thing left for Serz Sargsyan and Eduard Nalbandyan to do and it is to resign their posts and leave
    Armenia for good. They can find an heaven in Turkey to leave rest of their lives. There is no place in Armenia for traitors..

  5. Aram said:

    Mr. Sarkisyan thinks he is in Armenia, trying to shut down the freedom of press and freedom of speach. What about if Diaspora goes to Yerevan and organise huge rallies we still have time!

    If Sarkissian can silence its own citizens he can’t silence a whole Diaspora !

  6. TalinTor said:

    Armenia is starting to look more and more like Turkey in terms of (lack of) media freedom and killing dissenters. Elections in Turkey are freer than they are in Armenia. Is this something to be proud of?

    And the lines of division with the Armenian American community are now back to what they used to be.

    AGBU, AAA, KoV, and the Diocese are simply going along with whatever the Armenian (and US) government does without thinking about deeper issues and Armenian rights. What is so wonderful about the protocols that they had to immediately endorse them? It is one thing to have Turkey open the border. It is another matter entirely to have these protocols be filled with irrelevancies. Have the AGBU, AAA ever stopped to ask themselves why there MUST be a joint committee on the genocide? Have they ever asked themselves why the protocols contain references to territorial integrity, drug trafficking etc.? What exactly is the NEED for these things to be in the protocols? None. The Armenian side simply signed on the dotted line, and now the AAA, Kov, etc. lie their heads off that the protocols contain “no preconditions.”

    Some people say that Armenia made a good deal since Turkey wanted to have Armenia to forever drop the genocide issue and declare that it would never have territorial claims against Turkey. But if you look at how the negotiations went, Turkey made all the demands from the very beginning. What demands did Armenia make? None at all. In other words, while the protocols may not have given Turkey the exact wording it desired, Turkey got quite a bit from these protocols while Armenia got nothing. This is what happens when Armenia and Armenians are continually told by the world and even by other Armenians that we are weak. If you believe you are weak, then you will act weak.
    The underlying assumption of pro-protocol people is that these protocols are a great victory and will benefit Armenia. That has yet to be demonstrated. What we know right is that these protocols were negotiated by a a corrupt man who shoots down his own people in the streets, represses the media, and conducts fraudulent elections. The AAA, AGBU, Kov, and Diocese just endorsed that sort of immoral behavior, which shows you what their own leaders are made of.

  7. Lusik said:

    It is not about the weakness of Armenians, but rather about immoral politics becoming a rule. Armenians are strong. And we will see it soon.

    When a leader of a great, superpower country is dishonest with his people, should not other leaders relax and do the same?

    Immoral stance becomes acceptable. Even pain is on sale, today – some news for a famous song “Miayn ayn”.