WHEN OPPOSITION IS ALSO GOVERNMENT

Story from Lragir.am News:
http://www.lragir.am/engsrc/politics26670.html
Published: 12:26:28 - 26/06/2012

Levon Margaryan, Brussels-Yerevan

NATO diplomats were trying to understand whether Armenia has an
opposition which would balance the government, at the same time
directing the vectors to West. Following the rose and orange
revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine and the developments of 2008,
the question was in the air whether the West is ready and able to
organize a similar project in Armenia. Perhaps nobody doubts that
the West is ready and is able to organize something similar. However,
that would require from Armenia an opposition which would be at least
ready to accept a proposal of cooperation. A real opportunity for
these discussions was the opposition activity in 2008, before and
after March.

NATO diplomats also tried to understand how come the scarce messages on
building up relations with the West come from the prime minister and
the president, people who are perceived Russian political influence
actors. Perhaps NATO diplomats know the internal answers to these
questions. But the issue that was brought up is mystical indeed and
allows for thoughts. In Armenia there was a powerful opposition which
enjoyed public support and its grassroots are still keeping up the
discourse of Western revolution. However, the opposition denied a
pro-West approach at the level of its leader. Moreover, a few years
later the far-reaching and asymmetrical tandem RPA-PAP was formed.

On the other hand, Serzh Sargsyan inaugurated after March 1 started
speaking in the context of Western modernization conducts a policy of
deepening relations with NATO. At the same time, the prime minister
often states to face Europe. One can understand the surprised question
of those in NATO because the situation is indeed confusing.

Perhaps the problem is that Europe has given the Armenian government a
certain portion of legitimacy offering or requesting cooperation with
Armenia. On March 1 Russia lost one of its main actors Robert Kocharyan
which would otherwise be represented in the Armenian government in
a successful course of events. In this situation allying with Europe
or facing Europe, as the prime minister puts it, may become true. In
addition, football diplomacy organized later boosted the reputation
of the illegitimate president in foreign relations, which is mentioned
in Western discourse.

Now it appears that the relations set up after 2008 continue, the
Armenian government plays a double game with the West and Russia.

However, the problem is in the opposition, not in government.

Returning to the beginning, is there an opposition in Armenia which
will balance the government, directing the vector to the West. And
the other question stemming from this question is what the opposition
can bring to Armenia.

There is such an opposition in Armenia. It is the Party of Free
Democrats. In a long-term perspective the Heritage, as well as those
who left the ANC due to disagreement with its foreign policy, may join
it. Ter-Petrosyan denied pro-West implications of the ANC placing at
the top of its election list a person who supported Putin. Before and
after the election the Heritage, Free Democrats and other pro-West
personalities did not display enough diligence, and the pro-West
discourse actually faded away before it would start. Besides, the
mentioned forces have little presence in the parliament.

In fact, the discussion continues in the field of government, and
as a result the Armenian government will be the only center defining
the discourse.

In this context of opening up the political field of Armenia before
the West and bringing certainty to the relations with Armenia the
issue is to build up an opposition discourse in the country rather
than propagate the West and to enable a choice along with the
foreign political vectors offered by the government. This is one
of the prospects of development of Armenia because the West cannot
understand the existence of a pro-Russian and pro-west government in
Armenia, plus the opposition forces which say almost nothing about
the foreign policy. As a result, it may turn out that the Armenian
authorities are performing the job of the opposition.