Notes From Hairenik
Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting some representatives of a fledgling political party called MIAK, which is the abbreviation for the organization's full Armenian name. In English it is know as the United Liberal National Party. It started off as a political "movement" then blossomed into a political party only recently. I met and spoke to two guys there, Levon and Davit, both of whom received some university-level education in the West, namely in England and the United States. They have "Western" style ways of thinking, which I cannot necessarily describe all too well but is obviously familiar to me, just by the way they express themselves openly and frankly rather than beat around the bush as most potential or supposed full-fledged Armenian politicians do. Basically I could not get much of an explanation as to what their specific agenda is as they do not really have one yet. They know that serious reforms are needed in Armenia and based on that premise they are trying to go after as many followers as possible, then form a consensus as to what key areas need to be focused upon.

They discussed two things that I thought were interesting. Firstly, Levon believes that there are no political parties per se in Armenia, only politicians that are either Soviet trained or Western trained. He said it makes no difference whether a person is a member of the Republican Party of Armenia, the ARF-Dashnaktsutiun, or Prosperous Armenia--if the individual has a Soviet way of thinking, that mentality will impede his or her abilities to bring about change, whatever that may be or entail. The second topic was regarding Nagorno-Karabagh. The two gentlemen, who are basically giving the opinion of the party, insist that arriving at an immediate solution to the Karabagh problem, in other words this year as the West particularly is hoping for, will not be enough to drastically improve Armenia's economy. Furthermore, it is not in the interests of Armenia to give up the status quo and simply gamble on the possibility of faster economic growth through regional integration. They also believe in cautious negotiations with Turkey, but not to develop relations without preconditions in order to simply open the Turkish-Armenian border, as the Armenian side has been suggesting for some time now.

In any case, I was very impressed with these guys. They seem like they know what they want to do but not necessarily know the correct approach yet. The party, which has around 600 members, will be contesting seats in the National Assembly elections in May, but they will have to win apparently 5 percent of the total vote in the proportional system to have representation. And they have lots of competition, including Raffi Hovhanisian's Heritage party. It should be very interesting to see where MIAK goes from here.

MIAK's Web site can be found in Armenian here.

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15 Comments:
Anonymous Soviet-thinking Ashot said...
Was it a "Western mentality" that led these guys to kiss the ass of Kocharian's Armenchik and cheat dozens of other Western-educated professionals who have been squeezed out of this "party" or left it in disgust? Armenchik is probably the reason why MIAK was officially registered as a party despite a law saying that parties must have at least 2,000 members. These guys had trouble finding even 30 or so people for their electoral list. One of them is Levon's Moscow-based comedian brother who is not eligible to stand in the election because he's not lived in this country for the last 5 years.
As for Karabagh, of course they will be happy with the status quo. They didn't serve in the army and will not risk their asses if the war resumes. They'll keep getting their money from another Armenchik, who lives in London and also has a "Western mentality."

Anonymous Sargis Aramyan said...
And I am very enthusiastic about MIAK and their people. They seem to be definitely different from other parties, though I admit that there are some misunderstandings in all this story behind the formation of MIAK. However, the rumour of MIAK being Armenchik's brainchild is obviously not very reliable. I looked through all comments on that in blogosphere and found most of them quite irrelevant and providing no real idea why and what for would Armenchik create MIAK. The authorities apparently don't consider MIAK to be dangerous in short run, but that can't mean creation of this party by Armenchik.
My impression though is that these MIAK guys are being treated with some jealosy by people of the same background. Whoever is behind the party, why wouldn't other "Western-style" people create a better political force and contend the elections? Isn't it because it's a really very difficult task and it's much easier to stay home and discuss rumours. More parties like MIAK and to some extent Raffi's party would contribute greatly to the improvement of Armenian politics.

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
Ashot, I specifically asked about two of the issues you raise in your comment -- that of Armenchik and Armen Sarkisyan.

On the first, Levon said that Armenchik was invited to one of their parties because he was a British Alumni member.

On the second, Levon's response was "unfortunately, we do not receive any support or assistance from Armen Sarkisyan at all."

Regarding the third point about eligibility, if I run into these guys again, I'll raise them. As you say, the issue of eligibility is a crucial one.

Already we have Samuel Babayan running even though he too hasn't resided in Armenia for the past 5 years.

The opposition don't seem to mind this, however, but it is a matter of law, for sure. The same problem arose in 2003 with opposition leader Aram Karapetyan.

He was confusingly allowed to run for President then, which requires 10 year residency, but paradoxically prevented from running for parliament the same year because it was paradoxically declared that he did not meet the 5 year requirement.

As you imply, however, and as many argue about Kocharian's eligibility in 1998, the decision is usually political. Of course, there's no excuse and no doubt, the international monitors will be on the case here if it's true.

Of course, the issue of residency in Armenia is a difficult one given the continued reliance on the propiska system.

This usually results in problems for those who don't know about factual registration, but it might also come into play here too.

Anyway, I'll raise the issue with MIAK if I speak to them again. Garo will probably do the same as well.

As for Karabakh, well, we spoke to them about that as well and they don't believe a war will break out again under any scenerio. Nevertheless, at a recent discussion on Karabakh, MIAK were described as being "more nationalist than the Dashnaks" on this issue.

Some other educated otherwise progressive young Armenians believed the same as MIAK, but when I raised this with someone else, they too came out with the same response.

In the event of a war it will not be these guys who do the fighting or dying. Nevertheless, rightly or wrongly, they don't believe Azerbaijan will disrupt the status quo or that the international community will allow them too even if they wanted.

I personally disagree because an arms race will either cripple Armenia economically or skirmishes run the risk of going out of control. Nevertheless, that is the position of the party.

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
Oh, and I also raised the issue of those that have left MIAK.

Anonymous Sargis Aramyan said...
And I am very enthusiastic about MIAK and its people. They seem to be really different from all the rest of the political spectrum which is already positive. Armenia has so far lacked Western-style parties and if MIAK manages to become one it’s gonna be great for Armenian politics. As to who created MIAK and why here I have some questions marks too, however the rumors about Armenchik’a involvement that is much discussed in the Armenian blogosphere do not seem to be very reliable to me. Just I haven’t found any strong reasoning on that. Apparently the authorities don’t consider MIAK to be a danger in the short-run, that however is not sufficient to mean that MIAK was directly created or supported by Armenchik. I would love to listen to more arguments though, maybe I don’t have the full picture.

What is even more interesting though is that it seems MIAK faces a strong jealousy from groups of similar background. I wonder what hampers all other modern-thinking people to get actively involved in politics. Obviously it’s very dangerous and difficult to form a party and contend elections. And it’s much easier to stay at home and discuss rumours – something that I am doing now and for that reason I am glad there are other people braver than me who went into all this mess to present their agenda. Thus, more parties like MIAK and to some extent Raffi’s party, better for Armenia.

Anonymous Davit Vartanian said...
Provocative behavior has a short life and is not appreciated in a clean environment:) - well I read with a great enthusiasm the comments above about MIAK and its people. The bottom line is that this party is completely different from the rest and provides much needed competitive agenda in the political life. MIAK provides desperately needed oxygen to a poisoned authmospehe in Armenia and suggests proven remedies in form of Western-style thinking and if MIAK would have a chance to demonstrate its abilities to deliver the promised package, it’s gonna be major change in Armenian politics.
Who created MIAK? Seems a group of educated people with strong western work experience and I find the rumors about different affiliation groundless.

MIAK is demonstrating its strong commitment to original ideology. Quite naturally, this generates a strong jealousy from groups of similar background.

However, the Jews would have reacted differently, at least would have tried to join the efforts of similarly positioned and modern-thinking people to get actively involved in politics together.
Being overseas, I would call all those concerned about Armenia#s future, to provide support and give a chance to deliver. At least this party seems to be among those deserving public confidence.

Good luck!!!

Blogger Vika said...
I absolutely agree with Davit's comment - Jews, unlike, Armenians invest in each other, support each other and don't stab each other's backs. Why don't we try to be nice to each other? My dear, "Soviet thinking Ashot", why don't you put all that energy of frustration and being totally pissed of at every one into something more constructive and actually try to do something instead of bragging?!?! This what makes me absolutely mad, people, stop complaining, do something instead of constant wainging. I salute the MIAK guys! They try and do something, and God willing all these efforts will bear positive fruit. In fact, it is rather useful for today's political forces to use MIAK.... so to speak, to please the Westerns, and show them "look, we let new generation, new minds to enter the political arena"... And,yeah, read more carefully the law about the parties before going into accusations. As for Garik Martirosyan - I believe he is eligible, concept of "residency" can be stretched and to a large extend outweighed by his popularity. Politics is not only about boring speeches and empty promises - it is for the most part about those that perform it and prove that the trust given into their hands is not in vain. I see G. Martirosyan to be an energetic and promising young leader, who would care for the people. Whose possible presence in the Parliament would make our politics look a little bit more progressive and promising. As for Karabakh, I strongly believe that for Armenia, giving up the terrotiries and going on greater concessions will equal to its short- to long-term annihiliation. We cannot afford loosing Karabakh or going for great concessions, equally we cannot afford war - and status quo does not necessarily mean that the war will resume. Despite Azerbaijan's military aggrandizement and its constant threats of hostilities, it will not resort to war.... And if it does, than even better for Armenia - coz today is not 1990s, the international community has greater weight and will not allow this war to proceed.
You know what Armenia needs....? positive thinking, proactive movements and more people like those of MIAK, who act! Good luck guys! You'll do great, coz you have many supporters!

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
I just received this response from MIAK's Levon Martirosyan after forwarding him the link to this post:

Please forward our greetings and gratitude to Garo for a nice
blog.

Just to make it clear once again. Armen Gevorgyan is of course no member of
BAA. He was invited as a guest speaker to one of the guest-speaker nights within the series arranged by BAA over the winter. Other guest speakers on other dates were Nikol Pashinyan, Shavarsh Kocharyan, Vardan Oskanyan, Rafii Hovhannisyan etc. So one can well affiliate MIAK with all these other guys too just on the ground that they accepted BAA NGO's invitation to speak about something.

Blogger Arman said...
Arman: I agree with you Ashot,

MIAK is a group of people that think about themselves as "azgi serutsq" with of course no proof of that. Being educated in UK or Westin general or working in BP with official dress code does not make anybody a member of elite. The main characteristics of these guys is that they are scared of responsibility. Read their program, no responsibility. "We aspire a pro-Armenian solution of Karabakh problem" (citation from their program) :) Come on guys, is there any Armenian in this country, that does not? And if you watch carefully what they say apropos main issues, you will see no difference from the words of Kocharyan, Oskanyan, etc.

But the biggest danger, however, is that these guys are politically illiterate. You do not learn how to do politics by reading books published at Rutgers or Harvard, and sitting in your comfortable offices, writing with Parker pens. You can write tons of reformatory platform, have nice talks about infrastructural, economic blablabla reforms... But that's not politics, guys. You gotta get into the country's everyday dirt, to understand processes and to lead and change them. Something that MIAK bunch will never do, as they have paid enough for their suits.

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
BTW: There are some comments left on my site on your post. Forgot to turn off comments so that they'd leave them here instead so am pasting them below:

good, very good! we’ll see what they do. Good luck, honestly!

Comment by petrarka — April 16, 2007 @ 1:16 am


I was very impressed by both the post and the dicription of the MIAK’s intensions of liberal reforms in Armenia. I went through MIAK’s web site (www.miak.am) and I must say that these guys really know what ther are doing. The official program of the party seems to offer points that might be extremely helpful to develop economic and social state of the country based on liberal and progressive values. I think that young and inteligent people must support MIAk as much as possible, so to assist the memebrs to reach their goals, which I believe will have a great inpact on the prosperity of the overall country.

Guys, I support you and I will advice all my firends to be there to help you realize you mission and objectives.
T.

Comment by Tizziano — April 20, 2007 @ 2:56 pm

Anonymous Monados said...
I totally agree with Davit Vardanyan regarding the reaction of Jews in this case. Armenians never support each other. Why? Everyone considers himself a leader. This is our problem that is why Armenians are achieving good results only when they act alone. Why not be more pragmatic and understand that joint effort will bring us more results. Why “Soviet-thinking Ashot” reacting this way? Dear Ashot, most probably you have a problem, the problem that most of Armenians have – megalomania! You don’t even know the laws regarding the required quantity of members to be registered as a party and showing your lack of education to public!
Another problem that Armenians have is the jealousy! The comment of Arman: “Being educated in UK or Westin general or working in BP with official dress code does not make anybody a member of elite”. Dear Arman, you should be happy that these educated people decided to return to Armenia, that they are still living here and even more - trying to change something! Or may be you prefer to vote for those who are presenting TVs and hair-driers to the people with Alzheimer's disease?

Good luck MIAK!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hi there people, Well, i read your comments, and i can say for sure that no one from above mentioned goverment rulers (Armen Gevorgyan) or Armen Sarkissian (from London)they don`t support MIAK . Most of the Miak members consist of BAA members (Bristish Alumni Assosiation. And I can say for sure that i`ll give my voice to Miak (21 number in the List). It`s the one party which consist of young members. As for me it`s better to be Miak member than eat sunflowers near the Opera house. That`s my decision. GOOD LUCK MIAK.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
About risking the asses in Karabakh war.... Dear Ashot. Depending on their choices, ppl either study, make a PhD, go work at BP etc, or they risk their asses if they choose so. MIAK members will be more useful in peace - diplomacy, economy, law, rather than with guns, believe me. Professionals are those who have to fight, thus your comment is absolutely irrelevant here.

As far as I read the program, there is a proposal of making Armenian army contractual, thus professional. It reflects the whole concept beyond this white-collar status quo, and I think it's fair: EVERYBODY HAS TO DO HIS JOB. If your job is to fight, go fight, those who are educated dont have to.

About Armenchik's ass-kissing. Well, I doubt that. I was present to one of MIAK's Friday Nights. They are too ambitious to kiss anyone's ass, and that's what is positive about them.

And to you, Ashot jan, I would suggest to re-think your attitute towards asses, may be you have a problem with this part of human body?

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
Depending on their choices, ppl either study, make a PhD, go work at BP etc, or they risk their asses if they choose so. MIAK members will be more useful in peace - diplomacy, economy, law, rather than with guns, believe me. Professionals are those who have to fight, thus your comment is absolutely irrelevant here.

Well, in actual fact, people don't make the choice when it comes to war. Politicians do.

Also, the military is not a professional army so it will be young conscripts who do the fighting and dying if that time comes.

Meanwhile, the sons of officials or those with money will bribe their way, or use their connections, of getting anywhere close to the front line, or indeed, a uniform let alone a gun.

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
ArmInfo, 2007-04-23 10:43:00

Popular Moscow showman not to participate in parliamentary election but to support his brother's party

Popular Moscow showman not to participate in parliamentary election but to support his brother's partyThe popular Moscow showman, one of the ideological inspirers of and organizers of the popular Russian show
"Comedy Club" Garik Martirossyan has resolved to withdraw his candidacy from the proportional list of the United Liberal-National party, the leader of which is the native brother of the showman, Levon Martirossyan. According to Garik Martirossyan, he will stay in Yerevan until parliamentary election and actively support and
participate in the election campaign of the United Liberal-National party.

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