There are new developments worth mentioning regarding the Armenian presidential race.
Presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian filed a motion to have the election postponed by two weeks citing reasons that he has not been allocated enough airtime to promote his campaign message, which from what I have read has mostly consisted of direct personal attacks against Prime Minister Serge Sargsyan and President Robert Kocharian. The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia shot the motion down.
RFE/RL reports that Artur Bagdasarian may end up endorsing Ter-Petrossian while leaving his name on the ballot, since the deadline to bow out of the race has expired late last week.
The same source also printed today that Heritage party leader Raffi Hovannisian endorses Levon Ter-Petrossian as he would be the only "legitimate president" of Armenia.
Last Friday the ARF-Dashnaktsutiun (ARF-D) held a huge rally attracting thousands in front of the Opera House last Friday. In retrospect I regret that I did not attend as I was not aware it was going to be held. Apparently many sympathizers with the party were transported from the regions into Yerevan to show their support. Although the statements they made about how to move forward in Armenia were a bit vague judging from the news report I read, it would have been great to hear what was said by the party leaders and how their message was being delivered.
A few personal comments:
It is very unfortunate that Raffi Hovannisian is lending his support for Ter-Petrossian. Given the circumstances, fellow opposition leader Artur Bagdasarian will most likely follow suit. I daresay I will not be alone by saying that my respect for both Raffi Hovannisian and Artur Bagdasarian will now be significantly diminished. Bagdasarian at least should continue to run a strong race and gain as much support as possible to attract voters on election day, not bow out. Raffi should have stood by him.
Given the circumstances the ARF-D must not relent in its campaign whatsoever. Dashnaktsutiun must do whatever it can to undermine support for Ter-Petrossian who is arguably a thorn in the side of the Armenian nation and should not be trusted by any citizen of this republic. Hovannisian must be true to his will to take hold of the presidency, no matter whether he has a chance or not. I read the transcript of his speech and the message seemed to be very noble. The notion of hatred only spreading hatred and being an ineffective means to govern was poignant.
Ter-Petrossian betrayed the Armenian people while in office as far as I am concerned by failing to introduce true democracy to the people who were stagnating with the idealism of Soviet communism when Armenia declared independence. There is no excuse. If Ter-Petrossian didn’t know what he was doing he should never have led the people towards independence in the name of democracy. People that choose to cast a ballot in his favor young and old alike are being grossly misled and will regret their decision. He has nothing particularly new to say, and apologies for the error of his ways to the people should not be interpreted as words of sincerity. They are deceptions more than anything else.
Ter-Petrossian has traditionally been pro-west and he would be less inclined to be very chummy with Russia. If such a policy were to be put into effect after he was elected it would potentially damage relations with Russia, having been a long-time big brother to Armenia. Russia is and will be spending billions of dollars on Armenia’s telecommunications infrastructure, rehabilitating its railway network, and upgrading its electrical grid. The country is guaranteeing the safeguarding of Armenia wedged between two countries that are imposing an economic blockade, one of which namely Azerbaijan has been threatening to strike Armenia with military force at any moment.
Furthermore, according to Ter-Petrossian's own program he intends to significantly reduce Armenia’s army to a scant contracted “professional” force. He also left millions of Armenians in the dark for years while he sold electricity to Georgia. For some reason his supporters seem to be downplaying the “cold and dark” years, now convinced that their anguish was not his fault.
I also should mention that Ter-Petrossian shunned the Armenian Diaspora in the 1990s, especially people who wanted to become active in the political arena. He was known for communicating the message that effectively the Diaspora should simply send financial assistance to Armenia and not worry about anything else, including how it is spent.
Seeing this unwavering drive for Ter-Petrossian is very disturbing; I cannot fathom what is going on in people’s minds today. If he does manage to pull it off, which is unlikely as many have been forecasting for months that Prime Minister Sargsyan will win, people in this country will be even more disillusioned than they perhaps may be now for whatever reasons they have when you evaluate his track record. Furthermore, Ter-Petrossian himself is responsible for inventing this shadow clan system of governance that he has been complaining about.
Change has to come from the people; they cannot wait for five years to go by before they become politically active during election time. The drive for maintaining democracy and justice is an ongoing process which is dependent upon the citizens of a nation, not upon a leader and his control over government who can manipulate the very people he is supposedly serving. It will take a while for Armenian citizens to understand that I believe; they will have to be disappointed at least one or two more times before they wake up and take responsibility for their own society. Then again, I hope I am wrong and they do it sooner.