Oskanian Questions Government Commitment To ‘European Values’

oskanian4YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Former Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian questioned on Wednesday successive Armenian governments’ commitment to “European values” such as democracy and human rights, saying that he was increasingly embarrassed with having to justify their undemocratic practices during his decade-long tenure.

Oskanian said the lack of such commitment has been the main hurdle to Armenia’s democratization and integration into various European bodies.

“The government is the most important thing,” he said during a public discussion on the matter organized by the Civilitas Foundation, his Yerevan-based think-tank. “I was in it, and one of the reasons why I’m not now is that things reached a point where it was difficult to explain the difference between words and actions to the Europeans.

“That problem always existed, especially after elections when there were some undemocratic developments in Armenia. You can imagine the plight of the foreign minister every time the issue was brought up in Europe.”

“My experience has shown that our successive governments have not been prepared for a full adoption and application of these values,” said Oskanian. “This is a fact. They have at best been very selective.”

“The authorities have regarded the full adoption and application of European values as a threat to their power. This will remain the case until we manage to create counterweights in our political system,” he added.

Oskanian served as foreign minister in the administration of former President Robert Kocharian throughout his 1998-2008 rule, a period that saw three disputed presidential elections and other political upheavals. Various European bodies criticized the Kocharian administration’s handling of the polls as well as its human rights record.

Ever since leaving office in April 2008, Oskanian has increasingly distanced himself from this and other controversial episodes of the Kocharian era. The Syrian-born former U.S. national has also been increasingly critical of domestic and foreign policies pursued by the current president, Serzh Sarkisian.

Oskanian said on Wednesday that the Council of Europe, which Armenia joined in 2001, and the European Union should be “more consistent” in pressing the authorities in Yerevan to honor their commitments on democracy and human rights.

In Oskanian’s words, the Armenian public, for its part, should exert similar pressure on both the government and the Europeans, he said. “I think that we should be more assertive in demanding a more serious engagement by them,” he said.


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  1. Lusik said:

    I also “think that we should be more assertive in demanding a more serious engagement by” both European and UN and US and other powers.
    The spectrum is so large, that in order to keep all of them happy, a century is needed. Everyone wants piece of Armenia.
    Mr. Oskanian’s problem is that he intended to plant a tree without working out the soil. Local Armenian takes away stones, but does not throw them away. Stone is a precious building material. Then the soil is cultivated, then the tree is planted and watered on a regular bases. Right? Did Armenia have a time? Resources? A lot of “no”-s and few “yes”-s. Do you think diplomatic pressure started year ago? No! It started long ago, and became atrocious after Mr. Evans was forced to quit. The pressure, very often, have had very “humanitarian” face.

    So, be honest and admit mistakes. Life is long and there are many opportunities to redo mistakes.

  2. Samvel Jeshmaridian, PhD said:

    Doesn’t Mr. Oskanyan know that illegal and illegitimate government that kills its own leaders and citizens is not able to have any values, whether European or Chinese?

  3. Sarmen said:

    It’s shameful that qualified and courageous diplomats such as Baron Oskanian have been pushed to the sidelines outside of government for the sake of petty thieves and corrupt officials. I agree Armenia’s population needs to be empowered with human rights through democratic reform. Perhaps a healthy voice of reason emanating from his think tank will help empower the people to make this change from the bottom-up.

  4. Lusik said:

    From Madoff’s Ponzi scheme being publicized we have learned that he used very extensively an extraordinary low competence and indifference of financial operators responsible for control. Low competence and indifference, plus double standard is the game rule also in other spheres of modern life. It is not difficult to say that Armenian rulers were not implementing values of European realm. What are the values? Do not see we today these values are masked, massaged, abused as Europe builds the Union? Are they cherished in the USA? What is the name to the pre-electoral and post-electoral judgment metamorphoses of semi-god president?

    The examples come from there. Small nations do not produce monsters. We better try to stay united.

  5. Dino Ajemian said:

    European values?????? Let’s start with an Armenia with the values of our brave ancestors and heros like Andranik, Dro etc, defenders of the Armenian Ethos and defenders of Armenian villagers, the poor masses exploited by turkish and Armenian “aghas” past present and future. The problems that brought on the French, American and Russian revolutions pale in comparsion to what Armenia faces now and in the short term.