ACTING UNDER PRESSURE OF PUBLIC OPINION IS NOT WEAKNESS BUT DUTY OF GOVERNMENT
Naira Hayrumyan

KarabakhOpen
03-03-2008 13:53:38

March 1 will forever be a day of mourn for at least 8 Armenian
families. All the others will find consolation in long talks about
who was right, what could have been avoided and how it should have
been done.

We offer condolences to all the families who will not be able to
become engaged in such talks. And we are sorry that another day added
to the tragic dates for the Armenian people - March 1.

Political dialogue acquired special importance during the Armenian
presidential election. But it had also specificity. First of all, it
is due to the irreconcilability of the sides and refusal to retreat
by at least one step.

>From the very beginning, when the election campaign began, the
two main candidates Levon Ter-Petrosyan and Serge Sargsyan refused
dialogue and did not have even one live debate. Each of the candidates
states now that his opponent refused a debate. The reality is that
Levon Ter-Petrosyan said he would debate only with Serge Sargsyan,
and the latter said he had nothing to discuss with the first president.

Nevertheless, the Armenian voter did not get a chance to assess the
political stance of the main candidate during a live debate and to draw
conclusions. As a result much was not said, which grew into rumors,
emotions which burst on March 1.

The second possibility of a dialogue occurred immediately after
the vote, when it became known that Serge Sargsyan had won with
minimum advantage, that innumerable people are dissatisfied with
the conduct and outcome of the vote, that these people are likely
to go on protest. There was a feeling that there would be a second
round after the re-count of votes, which would lead to a dialogue,
and resolution of the situation in accordance with the law. But it did
not take place, the re-count of votes was marred by scandals, fraud,
as a result nothing changed, and the chance for a dialogue was lost.

The next stage of the dialogue started - the prime minister proposed
all the political forces to join in a coalition. Several political
forces responded, including Arthur Baghdasaryan, who had been believed
to be opposition in the Armenian "black & white" world. However,
not only he agreed to take up a position in the government which
does not exist yet but also justified himself on the Armenian Public
Television for about half an hour that he is not opposition because
Levon Ter-Petrosyan called him a betrayer.

Levon Ter-Petrosyan did not respond to the call for the coalition
because the demand of the people on the Square of Freedom was not
political positions or election of Levon Ter-Petrosyan as president
but they demanded that the rigged election were voided, and a new
election were held. Levon Ter-Petrosyan and another candidate Tigran
Karapetyan disputed the result of the vote at the Constitutional
Court, and the result of the election has no legal validity unless
the Constitutional Court makes a decision. The opposition stayed on
the square, making statements and dancing during intervals.

The government assessed the refusal to join the coalition as a
challenge, and without waiting for the decision of the Constitutional
Court, started to work out a scenario of forceful settlement of the
problem. At this point the possibilities of a dialogue vanished. The
speaker of the parliament Tigran Torosyan said the government had
no way out but to declare emergency rule and use force to disperse
the oppositionists.

Is it true that there was no other way out? Was it impossible to
wait until the decision of the Constitutional Court? Let alone that
the acting president, if he is so eager for a dialogue, could have
listened to the voice of several hundreds of thousands of people on
the square and hold a new election. Several hundreds of thousands
of people are half of the voters of Yerevan. And defiance of their
opinion is a defiance of a dialogue.

Unfortunately, the unwritten Soviet laws still work in Armenia,
according to which, it is a "shame" to listen to the voice of
people. Would it be appropriate for a post-Soviet government to
retreat under the pressure of public opinion? How can they listen to
the opinion of people? Others may think they are weak.

Meanwhile, it would be a genuine path leading to a dialogue. To make
a decision on a new election on the basis of public opinion. It would
not be weakness but a strong move. People are not indignant because
another person was elected president but because nobody asked for
and respected their opinion. Respect of opinion of a considerable
part of people would have soothed passions.

However, such a dialogue would be possible in case all the political
forces were interested in stability, regular development of the
country. It is impossible if the government is ready to hold on to
power at any price, if the struggle is not for the choice of the
way of development of the state but for staying at the top of the
government pyramid.

There is still a path, despite the victims, depression of people and
hidden rage.