Translating the ARF Roadmap to Regime Change into Action (Part I)

arfflag

The adage is that “actions speak louder than words.” The principles and concepts guiding the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s (ARF) recently announced roadmap to regime change in Armenia are consistent with the historic mission of the ARF.

Unfortunately, however, it took the protocols—an 11th hour development in the process of normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey—for the ARF to respond not only to these documents, but to conditions that have been festering for close to 20 years in the homeland (Armenia, Artsakh (Karabagh), and Javakhk):

First, the abysmal socio-economic conditions in Armenia that have plagued its workers and their families. Second, the conditions afflicting the Javakheti Armenians, which have steadily deteriorated during this time frame. Only recently the Javakheti Armenian activist Vahagn Chakhalyan was the victim of flagrant police and judicial misconduct for having spoken out against the restrictive policies of the government. He was convicted of acquiring and possessing weapons, “hooliganism,” and violating public order (an event that occurred two years prior to the instant charge). He is presently serving a 10-year term in a prison where the most hardened criminals in the Georgian penal system are sent (see “Javakhk Activist Vahagn Chakhalyan: Justice Denied by Georgia,”  the Armenian Weekly, Sept. 18, 2009).  And finally, the failure of Armenia to have the Nagorno Karabagh  Republic become a party to the negotiations that will determine its future. This has been Karabagh’s goal since 1994, when a ceasefire ended hostilities and the republic gained de facto independence.

After that somewhat critical assessment, let it be understood that the ARF is the one entity that has the experience and the determination to guide Armenia out of the quagmire into which the Sarkisian government has led the country.  For 120 years, the Dashnaktsutiun has been the principal Armenian adversary of the Ottoman Turkish government and all subsequent Turkish governments in representing the injustices perpetrated against the Armenian nation.  Its founding in Tiflis (Tbilisi) in 1890 was to advance social democratic principles by whatever means necessary to improve the political and economic wellbeing of the Armenians in the Anatolian provinces of Ottoman Turkey (the historic western provinces of Armenia). In terms of its mission, history, organization, and public support, the ARF is prepared to undertake this vital effort at regime change in Armenia.

However, the means for affecting this change represents a difficult challenge. The present situation demands that the ARF interpret its roadmap to regime change as being not only multi-faceted in its mission, but multi-operational in its implementation. Effective regime change requires (1) preventing parliamentary ratification of the protocols or significant modification of the negotiation results; (2) strengthening Stepanakert’s claim to Karabagh and the liberated territories, and forcefully aiding in its determination to secure de jure independence; (3) aiding the Javakheti Armenians to secure improved economic and political conditions, and the right to their language  and cultural institutions; (4) implementing socio-economic initiatives to improve the quality of life for workers and their families in Armenia; and (5) preparing for the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

Given the evolving nature of this crisis, the Dashnaktsutiun does not have the luxury of time to respond in a step-by-step progression to achieve these objectives.  They must be prepared to launch an offensive that has multiple objectives requiring simultaneous (and possibly divergent) courses of action. This is a gargantuan task that requires the harnessing of human resources and the raising of funds far beyond anything the ARF has previously attempted.

The beginning salvos have already been fired. The demonstrations in Armenia must increase in size and frequency if they are to have any effect influencing the Sarkisian government as well as sending a message to Ankara.

Demonstrations throughout the Armenian Diaspora should complement these efforts as a means to provide moral support for their compatriots in the homeland and to send a message of disapproval to the Minsk Group countries. Maintaining this level of participation requires that the ARF articulate reasons why this ongoing process of normalization is a threat to the political viability of Armenia as well as to the future wellbeing of the Armenian citizen.

The ARF must organize conferences where articulate speakers will present the Dashnaktsutiun’s position with respect to its roadmap objectives to sympathetic journalists, legislators, leaders of advocacy groups, and influential business executives.

The tri-chairs of the Minsk Group—Russia, France, and the United States—know full well the price they are requiring Armenia to pay. However, this should not dissuade the ARF from openly questioning why Armenia’s national interests should be sacrificed for Turkey’s benefit. Once the Minsk Group has forced Armenia to accede to Turkey’s interests, it will turn its attention—as it has already begun to do—to resolving the Karabagh issue with no consideration of the price the Karabaghtsis will be required to pay.

To assist the ARF in providing position papers to support the objectives of regime change envisioned in the roadmap, “think tanks” must be organized and staffed by competent professionals. There is no shortage of Armenian men and women with expertise in any field that the ARF may require as it formulates and implements this comprehensive program for regime change. Position papers must be distributed to media outlets, sympathetic foreign governments and legislators, and  especially to members of the U.S. Congressional Armenian Caucus. These “papers” must explain the adverse impact this pressured rapprochement will have on the political vitality of Armenia and on the legitimate issues that successive Turkish governments have refused to acknowledge. Garnering effective support for its roadmap to regime change is predicated upon showing the legitimacy of the Armenian Cause (Hai Tahd); the degraded position of the Armenian worker and his family; and an understanding of the background with respect to the Karabaghtsis’ determination to be independent and the legal and human rights principles that support their actions. The position papers must explain how and why the Javakheti Armenians are continually being denied their basic economic and political rights as citizens of Georgia, and of the government’s attempts to deny them their use of the Armenian language and cultural institutions. The adverse environment created by the Georgian government is aimed at acculturating the Armenian minority or, failing that, encouraging them to leave their historic lands.

It cannot be assumed that those who may be in a position to aid the ARF—journalists, political leaders, major donors, and the rank and file Armenian public—understand the history of events and the rationale that motivates the Dashnaktsutiun in its determination to effect regime change. In support of this objective, a steady stream of journalists, foreign legislators, advocacy leaders, and businessmen must be invited to Karabagh to hear and see for themselves the story of the Karabaghtsis. The resettlement program to increase the population of Artsakh by some 100,000 people (about 30-35,000 families) has lagged, and the population of Artsakh has not increased appreciably since 1994. This was a major initiative of the Stepanakert government that would have served to strengthen its hold on the liberated territories (see “The Political-Strategic Resettlement of Karabakh’s Security Zone,” the Armenian Weekly, June 30-July 7, 2007).

Javakhk presents a different set of problems. Who but a handful of Armenians know precisely what our brothers and sisters in this historic Armenian region within Georgia are forced to endure? As with Artsakh, a steady stream of official visitors should be invited to see the conditions for themselves and to hear the concerns of the people. Should the Georgian government refuse entry to these foreign journalists a
nd legislators, all the better to show the attitude of a government that contravenes the positive changes in its treatment of minorities—which it has agreed to introduce as a member of the European Union’s “European Neighborhood Policy.” Whether these visitors are allowed entry or are refused, Tbilisi cannot escape the onus for the adverse condition of the Javakheti Armenians.

Implementing the roadmap to regime change demands a highly coordinated offensive that cannot be accomplished without massive support within and beyond Armenia.  It requires a well conceived and executed information generating and distributing system that effectively supports the roadmap’s objectives. There are formidable obstacles that the ARF must overcome in carrying out its proposed changes. The party not only faces an entrenched power structure and a political philosophy that makes legitimate opposition difficult, but it must contend with the Minsk Group chaired by France, Russia, and the United States, which has been responsible for pressuring Armenia to capitulate to Turkish interests in order to facilitate their respective national interests. Not to be underestimated are the visceral attacks that may be made by pro-Sarkisian and anti-Dashnaktsutiun elements that seek to join the ARF to many of the problems they now claim they are prepared to solve.

Armenia is not without some leverage in responding to these pressures.  Iran has much to lose if this rapprochement as presently formatted is carried to its expected conclusion. Iran has a sizeable Turkic population adjacent to Azerbaijan whose allegiance to Teheran has always been problematic. A Turkish victory could have a significant impact on the internal political stability and spatial integrity of Iran, where slightly less than 50 percent of the population are ethnic Persians. Russia’s role in the present situation is perplexing. It is reminiscent of the Bolshevik’s inability to accurately gauge Ataturk’s philosophical predilections when it gave Armenia’s historic lands to Turkey  (Treaty of Kars) in 1921 as part of its failed attempt to encourage their Turkic neighbor (Azerbaijan as well) to become ideological soul mates. Moscow misread the situation then and it appears that it may be misreading the situation now. What Russia expects to gain by betraying Armenia, its only reliable ally in the south Caucasus, is difficult to fathom.  There is room in the south Caucasus for only one major power: Turkey (a United States surrogate at least for the time being) or Russia.  The unlikely key that may determine what will happen with respect to the ongoing process of rapprochement may very well depend on Artsakh’s response. The determination of its people to defend their independence is the one element that has not been fully taken into consideration simply because it is believed that the republic will not or could not respond to an Azeri attack. Only time will tell.

Part II of this commentary will appear next week.

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25 Comments

  1. Bruce Tasker said:

    It is interesting how in this commentary Michael Mensoian targets Serzh Sargsyan as the one who has led the country into its present quagmire and by implication, the one who has been forced to accede to Turkey’s interests. The quagmire to which the writer refers has been deepening and becoming more septic through many years, long before Sargsyan took over at the helm; developed and under the control of his predecessor Robert Kocharian. If the Dashnaks are looking for credibility, they should demonstrate to Armenia and to the Diaspora that their efforts will not lead to repeated Dashnaktsutiun support to Kocharian in his inevitable bid to return to the Presidency.
    With respect to what Russia expects to gain by betraying Armenia, that is not difficult to fathom, Russia needs Armenia, its only reliable ally in the south Caucasus, to have an alternative route to the Black Sea and to the West, so that Russia will be able to isolate Georgia, should the need again occur. That is why Sargsyan has acceded to Turkey’s interests, and not in response to a betrayal by Russia, but with major financial incentives from Russia, the US, and the other parties of the Minsk Group. After the Georgian / Russian conflict, this particular betrayal became an integral part of the Karabakh deal which Kocharian has long been preparing and to which Sargsyan has no alternative other than to implement – just a matter of biding time until Armenian anger to the Turkish betrayal dies down.

  2. manooshag said:

    Hye Michael, my two cents:
    1 – Greatest obstacle – sadly, first president LTP – not a patriot; obsessively opposed to ARF into
    today – yet now has gall to seek re-entry into governing Armenia!!
    2 – Christian churches , all nationalities, etc. aware of the Turkish Genocide of the Armenian nation – peoples, individuals together –  unite to end the cycle of Genocide – wherever, whenever, by WHOMEVER – despite what their own governments/leaders think!!
    Manooshag

  3. vahe said:

    This article shows tha lack of understanding of the author of the main causes of the ‘abysmal socio economic conditions’ in Armenia i.e. 80% of Armenia’s borders are closed. Just look at the map. How can you have economic growth with 80% of the country’s borders closed and the only open border with Georgia vulnerable to closure as we saw after the war in Georgia. How can you have economic growth in Kharabagh with all its borders closed except the Lachin corridor. This shows complete lack of understanding of the current geopolilitical situation in the region.

  4. John K. said:

    The ARF is trying to close the barn door after the horses escape.  This should have been done long time ago.  We are twenty years too late.  We relied on ex-communist to run the country.  Since when communists have been patriotic?

  5. Levon said:

    I’m sure the editor knows that the ARF was founded in 1890 not 1892 as stated in this article.

  6. KRIKOR said:

    I disagree in many things with you john, we have bad experiance with ARF in charge during the first independence days, did you forgot the Alexandrapole (Gyumri today) tashnakir in 1920/21? and then February overthrown atempt in 1921 and many mistakes that coast us losing Arttsakh (that we are fighting ofr it today), Nakhitchevan and the most important Gars  and Ardahan? lets not open the old files, I am not pro comunist or pro local Armenian government but I agree with ARF concerns today, and in the meantime and as a matter of fact you cant accuse them as ex comunist as not patriotic becasue its not right, and also we should not forget that what we have today in Armeia is a result of beeing a part of that Soviet Union, which was the only way for our nation’s survival than any other solution such as Alexandrapole tashnakir for example, the soviet union was the reason of our survival and what we have today or whateverleft, otherwise we woud’nt have Armenia today, ARF has a big points today to fight for and I agree a lot with it but in the same time ARF need to analyz the situation and the realities much more so we dont end up in the same mistakes again, we need to unite and work togather for this road map of change, maybe its a good idea for ARF to lead a union accomodate all the parties and organizations that share the same interest and view in regard of  the protocoles and change in Armenia.

  7. John K. said:

    Krikor, you may disagree with me all you want but the facts are facts.  Comunism by definition is anti-nationalism.  You can sugar coat it all you want but it does not change its principle.

  8. KRIKOR said:

    John you may disagree all u want too, seems like you missunderstood what I tryed to explain, comunisms wasn’t our ambition and aim and will never be, but at that time and cercumestances IT WAS THE ONLY OPTION we had in our hands, remember the Turkish troops were about 7 killometers away from the holy Etchmiyadzin!!! yes facts are facts, not defending the comunisms or the sociolism but during the soviet era Armenia transformed from extreemly poor and underdeveloped country to one of the leading  republics within 15 soviet union republics, it’s a fact and history and no one can change it, it’s not all glloom and doom and we cant ignore that. at the end of the day if the definition of comunisms is anti nationalism, the definition of capitalism is petro dollar Imperialism, Genocide and Panturkism.       

  9. John K. said:

    Krikor, you can drag this on until cows come home.  But the fact is Comunism and Patriotism are mutually exclusive.  What I said has nothing to do with history lesson.  And I am not saying that Capitalism is any better.  You are reading too much into my statement which was not my intent.

  10. KRIKOR said:

    john, I am not druging this on till the cows come home, just simple duscussion between veiws and opinions, and no intention of giving history lessons too, even though history is the window for tomorrow if u dont know it right and properly you can’t move forward, the whole conversation started whne you made the commnet of  (Since when communists have been patriotic?) well have you ever been in Armenia john?    

  11. manooshag said:

    Hye Krikor, you have told the truths of our Armenian history whilst under communism… and I recall too, that of the republics of USSR, Armenians developed what they had, for the better.  Sadly, at times the influence of communism still persists – i.e. Serge and cohorts – but I am certain  that amongst our bretheren in Haiastan we have many patriots – unable to come forth with Serge and his mafia still in control.  Manooshag
    Manooshag

  12. garabed said:

    Dear Mr Mensoyan
    Your use of term “regime change” is troubling. Is it like G.Bush announced against Sadam Husein??. Or you mean a civilized grassrout type change . All we arminians wont NO VIOLANCE . Like Sarkis in response 1 is worried about.Some of us know or remember how dashnagtsoutioun has behaved sometimes. So many young armenian non dashnags were killed by dashnags in Lebanon in 1958 civil war, in cold blood.( Young armanian lebanese and non Lebanese may not know this fact). Fortunately it didnt happen in 1975-90 civil war. Armenians in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria Jordon who were not dashnag, were labelled Hamaynavar (communist) by dashnags. What a pitty, poor choice of words. But this was their thinking and belief. Dashnags also have physically attacked armenian schools and churches in middle east, that praised Etchmiazin, in 1950s. I hope the new generatin of ARF is not same mentality, but here in LA, sometimes I still hear those ignorant thoughts. Please, if regime change… non violanence is required.Awaiting anxiously your part 2. Thanks

  13. Levon A. said:

    Levon, A loose federation of many revolutionary organizations was founded in 1890 under the name the federation of armenian revolutionaries. In 1892, they codified that loose federation into an actual political party and changed the name to the Armenian revolutionary federation. 1892 was its founding congress. So technically the author is right.

  14. B. Baronian said:

    I think it is time to:
    1- Change that name ARF…this is no longer appropriate…think about it…PR and proper presentations are appropriate…we need not look like revolutionists to achieve our goals.
    2- A serious review of leadership and goals should be called for both at the ARF and ANCA…they accomplished what they could…but their time is up…and it’ time for a new leadership that can deal with  Hillary Clinton ignoring requets for a meeting and a genocide denier Obama
    3- We have a population drainage in Armenia…and this should be addressed to instill a trend reversal
    I am an Armenian patriot who believes…it doesn’t matter where you were born, raised or educated…for you are a child  and victim of circumstance…It is up to us to show the world who we really are and to claim our lands, homes and rightful place on the world stage and to build a country where every Aemenian can call home, live and work in but most importantlty for him/her to be able to raise a family in safety and security…Is this too much to ask for as a nation…I think not…but apparently the rest of the world, as sympathetic as some of them may be aren’t willing to grant us this basic human right which really is a genetic right and I say genetic, cause we were denied birth rights by the Turkish Government who’s currently trying to flirt with the rest of the world… and they appear to be successful.
    who Am I you might ask…. I am an Armenian who at the age of 15 was wondering why I WAS IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY…enough said… a quiet, reliable, well thought out transformation must be carried out to save our nation and to empower our people and to attract investments…not shambles…to attract residents…not rodents..to feed the people in the remote areas of the country who are living in shacks….a quiet revolution to take back our country must start now…it doesn’t matter if you are an Armenian from Russia, Turkey (Bolsahye), Egypt, Syria, Iraq, America, Canada, France, or wherever…remember..you are Armenian and your country needs you, your children need a nation and a country..so do you grand children…in addition we cannot forget the suffering our Grand parents lived through for our sakes…
    Armenians let’s cut the emotional rhetoric out and let’s see what we can do to save our Nation
    Join me in Celebrating our Armenia, our Men, Women and Children, Our Culture, Our Church, Music, family life… and values
    How do we do it …more to come…but let me hear your voice
    Hayenk menk yev hye biddi menank…!
    God Bless our Hayastan
    Berge Baronian

  15. daron said:

    Garabed,
    What is the point of bringing up the “Henchag, Tashnag” issue.  In 1958 Henchags also killed ARF members and “hamagirs”, you need to be fair when you refer to an issue. 
    As you know, during 58 crisis ARF was pro West and Henchags were pro Soviet Union, that is why Henchags and Ramgavars  were regarded as communists back then.

  16. krikor said:

    spots on garabed, you said just a little of it, thanks god the new generation is changing, still need some more time to see off the influance to that old genenration and so called the old guard of the party, and hopefully we see new leaders the likes of HOVANNES KACHAZNUNI and others so they can lead this big party,  

  17. krikor said:

    yes manushag I agree, we are not happy of this mafia situation in Armenia, but mafias doesn’t exist only in Armenia and the ex comunists, its everywhere, i saw it in the middle east, i saw it in USA too, mafia has nothing to do with comunists or not, it”s about humen been behavior in deferent ways and environments. 

  18. Bruce Tasker said:

    It is interesting how in this commentary Michael Mensoian targets Serzh Sargsyan as the one who has led the country into its present quagmire and by implication, the one who has been forced to accede to Turkey’s interests. The quagmire to which the writer refers has been deepening and becoming more septic through many years, long before Sargsyan took over at the helm; developed and under the control of his predecessor Robert Kocharian. If the Dashnaks are looking for credibility, they should demonstrate to Armenia and to the Diaspora that their efforts will not lead to repeated Dashnaktsutiun support to Kocharian in his inevitable bid to return to the Presidency.
    With respect to what Russia expects to gain by betraying Armenia, that is not difficult to fathom, Russia needs Armenia, its only reliable ally in the south Caucasus, to have an alternative route to the Black Sea and to the West, so that Russia will be able to isolate Georgia, should the need again occur. That is why Sargsyan has acceded to Turkey’s interests, and not in response to a betrayal by Russia, but with major financial incentives from Russia, the US, and the other parties of the Minsk Group. After the Georgian / Russian conflict, this particular betrayal became an integral part of the Karabakh deal which Kocharian has long been preparing and to which Sargsyan has no alternative other than to implement – just a matter of biding time until Armenian anger to the Turkish betrayal dies down.

  19. Ara K said:

    Baron Garabed , don’t tell me that the Killings in 1958 was only one sided both side did it and they were driven into the hole because of the President Kamil Shamoun and you absolutly right it was fine during the Civil war 1973 to 1990 .
    most probably you were one of so called Bolshovic too it seams to me and maybe you are livivng in the US and enjoy the Goverment Money and spit on it .

    I have to go work not like you maybe you are going on a trip or a Casino !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

  20. garabed said:

    To  Ara , Daron and Koko
    Most of you got the point. What I mean, if regime change, no violance, no killing, no assassination. I gave some examples of the past that dashnag did. I hate to wake up one day and CNN gives “Breaking News”, armenian president killed by unknown people. That will be a shame.By the way, Ara, I now remember Bolshovic was anybody non dashnak, you corrected me.I said Hamynavar, but they called Bolshovic. You must be one of those I sometimes meet in LA, who havn’t changed.

  21. daron said:

    Garabed,
    I understood you very well, and I do condemn the violence that took place in fifties on both sides.  But you seem to be stuck on one side of the fence and throwing rocks towards the other side instead of trying to find a common ground and to be fair at the same time.  What worries me, is people like you from either side of the fence who will eventually will become fanatics and your pictures will be shown on CCN’s “Breaking news”.

  22. Grish Begian said:

    Armenia is traveling toward her bright destiny… all political parties in Armenia and around the world should come up with their sober understanding, that Armenia needs more “unity” than anything else. We should guide Armenia toward European structure and fight against corruption of the county, Armenia will find freedom and and peace in Europe not in Middle East..

  23. manooshag said:

    Hye Garabed… Regime change in Armenia shall be as it was after Germany lost WWII – the whole government in Germany was dismantled…. Manooshag

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