The champagne will flow and the caviar will be served this Sunday at a gala banquet honoring President Serzh Sarkisian at the Beverly Hills Hilton as part of his Diaspora tour to discuss—or force down our throats—the protocols for the establishment and development of relations with Turkey.
What a fitting way to mark the dangerous and defeatist documents that are sure to irreversibly change the course of Armenian history.
On H1, Armenia’s state television, advertisements heralding the president’s Diaspora tour have been airing regularly like a promotion for a Rolling Stones world tour. But before we buy the tour t-shirts and paraphernalia we must ask why? Why now? And, what is this tour going to accomplish?
As stated on several occasions by the president and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian, the protocols are a fait-a-compli. They are scheduled to be signed on Oct. 10 in Zurich by the foreign ministers of the two countries, with Hillary Clinton reportedly in the audience to cheer them on.
So, President Sarkisian’s world tour is nothing but a publicity ploy by the administration to claim that the Diaspora was included in the discussions of the pre-determined protocols. In fact the Armenian nation was never included in any discussion and has been forced to address this crucial and delicate issue according to Sarkisian’s agenda and not as a national concern that requires discourse and in-depth analysis.
Case in point: his agenda for the Los Angeles leg of the tour includes a meeting with some 40 representatives of the community, a gala banquet and a television interview with three channels. Talk about casting a wide net! So, the more than 10,000 Armenians who attended last week’s protest in Glendale and represent a even larger demographic, are not given the opportunity to hear the president and address their concerns.
In fact, the staging of this entire farce has been so calculated and deliberate in its intention to leave the public out of any choice, discussion and decision starting with the announcement of the “roadmap” on April 22. And, in this season of protocol-mandated public discussion, the state-run Armenian media—television, radio and newspapers—which has the most reach in Armenia has been silent about any opposition to the protocols and plays down any protests that have occurred, be they in Armenia or Diaspora. In fact, the number for Sunday’s protest in Glendale was put at 800 by some state-run media. On Friday, Armenia’s police chief announced that any slur against the authorities would be punishable by law.
The iron curtain, once again, seems to have fallen on Armenia.
Nalbandian, on Thursday, proudly proclaimed that it was Armenia that initiated the protocols chastising parliament members for not having enough faith that Armenia can actually can take the lead on something. Well, if it was, in fact, Armenia that initiated the protocols then the authorities get a big fat F for failure. The new spin by Sarkisian and Nalbandian is that they were not pressured by the US or any other power to enter into this process. Ironically, the same sentiments were expressed last Monday by Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon, who told reporters that the US was a mere observer. It is always comforting that Washington and Yerevan are dancing to the same tune, believing that the public is too stupid to read between the lines.
Also joining that dance are the leadership of the Armenian Assembly of America, the AGBU and the Etchmiadzin-controlled Diocese. Through a joint announcement they proclaimed their unwavering support for the protocols and welcomed the president to the US. They, of course, will have to answer to their constituencies and flock for turning a deaf ear to historical injustice and threats to the future of our nation.
In the wake of these developments, community members are urged to meet in front of the Beverly Hilton at 3 p.m. on Sunday and raise their united voice in opposition to the protocols. At this critical juncture in our history, President Sarkisian has chosen to spend his valuable time in the Diaspora wining and dining and not facing his public, effectively telling the community: “Let them eat cake…”