SERJ vs. SERZH: Tankian, Sarkisian In Post-Election Discourse

Serk Tankian with Serzh Sarkisian during a meeting in Armenia last year

In an open letter  to President Serzh Sarkisian yesterday, artist and human rights activist Serj Tankian demanded an end to corruption and injustice in Armenia, asking the president to unite and inspire Armenians instead.

“Like most Diasporan Armenians, I have always been reluctant to criticize your government directly and publicly. But the avalanche of people suffering under your rule due to corruption and injustice is tipping the scale for us all,” Tankian said in the letter, which we provide below, in full.

A few hours after the release of Tankian’s letter, the website of the president of Armenia posted Sarkisian’s response (See Below).

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on your victory.

Victory means getting the most votes, of course, in a democracy.

Based on the overwhelming reported fraud from many NGOs, irrespective of the OSCE report, it seems like it would be scientifically impossible for even you, Mr. President, to know whether you actually won the majority of votes.

That’s quite funny isn’t it? That you, the President of Armenia are not really sure, deep inside, whether you are the true chosen leader of your people or not.

That would really bother me personally. If I wanted to lead my people, I would really want them to make that decision for themselves, because I respect my people and that is their decision to make. Otherwise, I would take over Armenia and call myself the Governor General of Armenia or Dictator du jour or whatever moniker I felt like sporting that day. Maybe your party is out of control and the oligarchs are running out of caviar or something and they want to make sure that the flow of the good times doesn’t stop.

Whatever the case, it is time for change.

Whether you’ve won fairly or not, somehow you are now President, again.

What does that mean to you?

Yes, Artsakh is important to us all and we have to struggle together for our brothers there.

But what I mean is how are you going to progress the cause of Armenians, in Armenia and around the world?

How are you going to help pull the country out of its economic, social, and political dysfunction and turmoil?

Obama at least offers hope, even when he lets us down.

Years ago, I started a campaign asking President Obama to do the right thing and stick by his promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

You too took an oath, to the constitution of Armenia, to protect the country from enemies foreign and domestic. Those who steal elections from my people are domestic enemies that need to be punished.

It should be your duty to enforce that, even if some think it hypocritical. You should also consider dissolving Parliament and being the first Armenian reformist President who goes out of his way to make sure that future elections are fair and representational.

Serzh, everyone who knows me knows that I can’t stand injustice. And like most diasporan Armenians, I have always been reluctant to criticize your government directly and publicly. But the avalanche of people suffering under your rule due to corruption and injustice is tipping the scale for us all.

You need to know that.

Armenia is desperate for the rule of law more than anything else. And no one can be above the law. You can make that happen, now, by example and presidential decree.

Unite us Serzh. Inspire us.

Please take this challenge.

Thank you for your time.

Serj Tankian

Sarkisian to Tankian: I Organized the Best Elections
A few hours after the release of Serj Tankian’s open letter to President Sarkisian, the website of the president of Armenia posted Sarkisian’s response (in English and Armenian). We provide the English text below, as it appeared on the president’s website, without editing.

Dear Serj,

My younger grandson is also our namesake. He is too young to know that he was born to descend a proud nation, small, overburdened with issues but still a citizen of a victorious and forward-looking country. He still has a lot to learn. Serj, you and me, all of us, shall report to him and his generation on what we have done, on what kind of a new homeland under Holy Mountain we convey them. Can you imagine questioning eyes of those to whom we shall report? You and me, Serj, all of us. Those eyes are childish and playful but tomorrow they are going to be serious and investigating.

What shall I tell them, Serj? Shall I tell them that I promised my people Secure Armenia, that I organized the best elections (even if with shortcomings, which, nevertheless, could not have had any significant impact on the outcome of the vote) in the 21-year long history of our country, and I could not have been able to consolidate all of our people and show them the path to the future? Shall I tell them that I took it serious and did even discuss “ultimate truths” stemming from thin air that has no relation to the state and statehood whatsoever? That is a mine, Serj, a mine threatening our coming several decades that will lead us to inevitable self-destruction. Our duty is to throw away mines that undermine our path towards development. The agenda of establishing law and order cannot be implemented by illegal means. Such an agenda will come to its end swiftly through similarly illegal ways.

I think little Serzh is going to be fan of your music, and what are we going to tell him when he asks us:

“Was the philosophy of displaced mines the bombing of all homes and villages?”

This is a State, Serj. We have dreamt about it extremely long. This State is yours and mine; it is the State of all of us. It is the State of little Serzh and of wonderful children of the Hovannisian family. It is the State of all our children and grandchildren. We have a paradise homeland, and our duty is to build a strong State. We have to build it together, Serj. The mines planted today will be threatening our children tomorrow, they will become Bellum omnium contra omnes, or the “the war of all against all”. And growing child will ask you:

“Where do you expect us to go when the bombs fall, Serj?”

What is our response going to be to them? Is it going to be that years ago we have been romantic and did not understand it? Is that our response? They will not believe us, Serj. They will read this letter and conclude most certainly:

“You saw it all when you looked forward, why did you go there?”

That is not our path. We are comrades on the matter of the path we embark upon. Indeed, it is time for change. Nobody can be above the law. Falsification and hypocrisy, impudence and hostility will destroy drop by drop and steadily our ability to cry wholeheartedly: “Freedom, we are free”. We need to do that in order to call upon all: “Back To the River Aras!” We need to do that, Serj, in order to embolden ourselves to look into the eyes and respond to the questions of little Serzh and of their generation.

For that exact matter I do need your assistance, and assistance of all of us be they from Glendale or Stepanakert, from Melbourne or Moscow. I believe in our collective victory.

And in conclusion I will address your question. You asked me if I was really sure, deep inside, whether I was the true chosen leader of our people or not. I respond to it that I have always been sure in whatever I have done be that battle command or organization of elections. One needs to feel Armenia, Serj, and it is not possible to feel it siting in an expensive office in downtown Yerevan, even if one sits there for too long. Armenia can be felt standing on the rocky land of a hamlet that struggles to continue its eternal path. Armenia can be felt of the green of flowers planted at a cemetery of our freedom fighters. Armenia spoke up, Serj, believe me.

That is all I wanted to tell you.

Please convey my best regards to your father, and let the proud message of the spring stork prevent us from choosing a wrong path.



Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.


  1. Another Serge said:

    “Obama at least offers hope, even when he lets us down.”

    What a terrible example to put forth. Obama can shove his false hope you know where. I’d rather have a liar who we know is lying and doesn’t try to hide it than a conman who offers people a false sense of “hope” and “change” and then disappints time and time again. At least with the former you expect the worse already, not sit there with gleaming eyes only to have another let down.

    Anyway, not to deviate too much from the point. At this point in time, with salivating enemies from all sides we need a strong military leader who really can ensure a “Secure Armenia.” I like Raffi, but I can’t expect him to lead a protective military in these threatening times.

  2. Armanen said:

    Tankian’s letter went downhill after he claimed Obama inspires hope…. NO, he DOES NOT!

  3. Mher said:

    What good does it having a state clear of mines and empty of its citizens at the same time?
    How about working for the people and the state’s self defense at the same time like it’s supposed to?

    • Armanen said:

      You and other doom-n-gloomers need to stop spreading the disinformation about Armenians emigrating en masse from Armenia. When was the last time you or others claiming de-population were in Armenia? I was there 9 months ago and certainly didn’t witness a major exodus. Migration is a two way path, which is what’s occurring.

  4. Ara said:

    Raffi should join with Serj Sarkisyan in order to address many problems in Armenia and not to weeken the homeland with new
    Divides and upheavals . Armenia has limited resources and is surrounded with enemies . A change of a person is not going to change anything , the whole culture , the society has to change first .
    Serj Sarkisyan is not a bad person, I think he tries his best .
    No one is 100% innocent and an angel . There are many outstanding problems ? Yes , and that’s why they should work together to help the country . Anything short of that is going to look more and more into a fight for a chair .

  5. Melineh said:

    Is it me, or did the President or whoever wrote that letter seem to deflect must of the responsibility of Armenia’s currently failing economic/political system to the people and the diaspora? How can the Armenian people help if they don’t have a true voice. This eloquent letter is designed simply to pull at our emotional heartstings. At first glance, it seems a kind and benign gesture, but if one is to dig deeper is it a complete waiver of Serj”s primary concern.

    We know that our country’s landscape is beautiful, no need to describe it in idyllic terms. What we don’t know is exactly how or why the President was reelected and now that he is, what is he as head of our ancient civilization going to do to maintain the tortured, yet everlasting path our forefathers forged for us? It does not do to merely state “This is a State, Serj. We have dreamt about it extremely long. This State is yours and mine; it is the State of all of us. It is the State of little Serzh and of wonderful children of the Hovannisian family. It is the State of all our children and grandchildren. We have a paradise homeland, and our duty is to build a strong State. We have to build it together, Serj. The mines planted today will be threatening our children tomorrow, they will become Bellum omnium contra omnes, or the “the war of all against all”.

    Do the Armenians have to fight amongst themselves to get ahead now?

  6. Tiko818 said:

    All this talk of replacing Serzh (or Serj? What is the right spelling?) begs the question…what about the rest of the 99% of Armenia that is infested by corrupt politicians? Are we going to go hang all of them as well? Corruption is a systemic problem of Armenia. Remember that. Also, there are lots of places other than Armenia that rank even lower on the socio-economic ladder, why then are Armenians leaving in “droves”? There is certainly a disconnect between a Diaspora Armenian and an Armenian national; meaning, why are we always equating the two? Armenians leave Armenia because they look at their “compatriots” across the pond and wonder why they should stay in Armenia when the demarcation that separates an Armenian national from a non-Armenian national is non-existent. Meaning, if you don’t bolster the idea of Armenian national then you are robbing the Armenian national of their reason for existing.

  7. Avetis said:

    I would like to apologize to President Sargsyan for Tankian’s disrespect and political illiteracy.

  8. HYE MNA said:

    As a Armenian American with all due respect to what point is it our place to put judement on any president of Armenia? We sit in our nice houses or apartments with our stomacks full and critisize is this right?
    Yes we should care what happens but we also need to understand Armenia is a land locked state with
    two of his borders closed and our enemy counting the monutes when they can put on what is left of Armenia!
    Lets think about this if we really care we should be in Armenia not in Glendale or any other place in the world.
    God help us all and God bless Christian Armenia!!!!!!!!!

  9. Vazken said:

    Let’s have our discourse as intense as it may be, but never ever turn on each other while the filthy Azeris are breathing down our necks.

  10. Haygaz said:

    I have a question to Serj Tankian, do you think president Serj Sarkisian answered to your question <>.

  11. Alex said:

    What a “Crock”. Either the translation from Armenian to English is extremely poor, or the “President” (???) or his staff, cannot even write a comprehensive reply.

    Living in Yerevan and talking to a lot of people about politics, I have yet to find someone, outside of government employees, that voted for Sarkissian. Based to my extremely inexact poll, everyone I’ve spoken to either voted for, or if they didn’t vote, were pro Raffi Hovannisian.

    The Hayastanci’s talk and complain a lot and those that can try to leave the country. Of course the Sarkissian’s and their ilk are going to take advantage. Why not, there is no unified opposition to implement change.

    By living here you learn that there is very little cohesion or teamwork among people or organizations. Everyone is out for themselves and this extends to the opposition political parties as well. This was an opportunity for them to come together and coalesce, it was the best opportunity they had so far. But they blew the chance.

    What we need is more backbone, cohesion, teamwork and less “crying that nothing can be done”. That is wishful thinking on my part!

  12. greeting sform NIce said:

    well done Serj Tankian , I do admire your courage, somebody has to be strong enought to think what others think!

    Mr Prosperous Armenia , Gagik T,. is greeting you from NICE, Frnace, “Hello Armenia” did you vote ?, yes, so you are stupid ,”Prosperous Armenia -this is me Gagik ” had no time to vote for “Prosperous Armenia ” !
    Such a stupidly. Some people like to fool our nation! If PAP is claming being the biggest opposition fraction in parliament, where he –its leader – was spending his holidays during the last presidental election? Well. Most of Armenian villagers and poor people doesn´t even know that parts of France is like hot summer in Armenia, while in their villages there is heavy snow and hardship! We have a lot of stupid and selfish people sitting in Parlament

  13. George said:

    It gives the impresion that Democracy is used in Armenia to open a breach between Russia and Armenia, it took a Century to develop the kind of Democracy that is now in Europe, in which several European countries are on the verge of going back into dictatorhip, such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, it is widely known that Democarcy is a hoax used by powerfull nations to achieve their own goals by dividing the people under the umbrella of Democracy.

  14. Missak Keleshian said:

    Mr. President,

    We Armenians like to hear emotional words and we immediately tie dreams to those emotional words and we think they become a reality! I want to see deeds and actions and not dreams in your letter. Armenians have lost leadership for centuries we need to use microscopes to find leaders in our history…
    If you want your name to go in history as a leader who brought the Armenian nation together this is what I will do:

    1- I will bring Raffi Hovanessian as a prime minister or foreign minister.
    2- As an ally to Russia I would ask President Putin to heavily invest in Armenia in creating industries or even job creation programs this should be a drop of water in the ocean for Russia.
    3- There should be so many jobs that there should be shortage of laborers
    4- There should be OPEN reports identifying and pinpointing the reasons of failures for so many investments in Armenia especially diaspora’s.
    5- Armenian foreign ministry and diplomatic corps should be well trained educated, to be ACTIVE in promoting and attracting Armenia. They are boring, uninterested and lost their mission! Active does not mean going from one Armenian function to another!
    6- Open study why so many Armenian citizens are migrating from Armenia? What is the solution to bring them back? I cannot see Armenian villages empty of men! What are the plans?
    7- For 98 years the Diaspora did not create a legal representation body. Even more the Republic of Armenia and the Diaspora TOGETHER do not have a clear road-map of Armenian demands… As of today only Armenia can take that action as a legal entity, I would get a top notch legal team together put a strategy and take Ottoman Turkey and its successor to International Criminal Court for justice & restitution… I will let the musicians, artists and the cultural entities do their part for the 100th Anniversary but I will focus my energies on the world court!

    Mr. President this is only part of my dreams, once you start in this direction with open book without preferential status or selective justice, you will see your popularity and how all Armenians from the four corners of the earth will pour in investments into Armenia…. Until then I want to dream…

    Missak Keleshian California

  15. Pingback: Modern Armenia » Tankian Dedicates Song to Armenia’s Popular Movement