Marat Terterov: Armenia’s long term security will be better served by strengthening economic security, rather than defining national security on the basis of the Tsarist Russian catch-cry “armiya i flot”
ArmInfo’s interview with Manvel Sargsyan, Director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS).
by David Stepanyan
There is an opinion that this time the election rigging will not so cynical as before. Is there any change in the methods or, maybe, the ideology of the authorities has changed?
One cannot say that the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Armenia will be free and fair. The methods have changed, but the goal hasn't. They have simply realized that it is senseless to stuff the ballot box and they can act more fastidiously. The authorities say that the elections in May will be transparent, but it is only the secondary factors that will be transparent Is the administrative terror on the threshold of the elections transparent? No, it is not. Teachers, doctors, state officials undergo the roughest criminal pressure. What transparency can there be? They have simply realized that all the secondary and insignificant things can be made transparent and waved as a flag. At the same time, the real picture is not disclosed, because in this case they will directly go to jail.
People should make their own conclusion. The parties running for parliament should reply to a simple question: do they think that there is a mechanism of free elections in Armenia? If there is no such a mechanism, they should explain to the people how they are going to receive mandates without obtaining the electorate's votes. If the constitutional way of receiving deputy seats is paralyzed and does not operate, then the seats are gained in a non-constitutional way. Election results will depend on the
criminal and administrative machine, which dictates the rules of the game and distributes the votes in line with these rules. People will not only be forced to vote. The authorities also make people join the party lists, saying that otherwise they will simply lose their job or business. Earlier the authorities gave promises to people, but now they are simply intimidating them. The society itself is able to change the situation by means of its own efforts without any political parties.
Thus, do you connect the new wave of migration with the political factors, first of all, and only then with the social factors?
Yes, of course. To do or to undertake something a citizen of Armenia needs to join someone, otherwise it is impossible to self-realize in the country. Therefore, people leave anywhere with the only goal to get an opportunity of self-realization.
Do you think that mass migration from Armenia is a threat to the national security or it means Levon Ter-Petorsyan’s theory “less people less problems”?
Well, migration is actually a threat. However, Armenia has other factors of national security. The system of security oriented at Russia has no alternative. In the economic issues, Armenia may afford staking on the West and the EU, first of all. As for the cooperation with NATO, it is just partnership. It will be possible speaking of alternative guarantees of national security when NATO armed forces replace the Russian military base in Armenia. I know no political force in the country, even in the opposition, that would harshly oppose the pro-Russian vector of the country’s national security.
You are a member of the "brigade" for dismantling of boutiques in the Mashtots Park. Do you consider that fight as something more than just protection of civil rights?
Actually, everything is simple, as the young people which do not want to let lawlessness in the Mashtots park are educated and have been doing that what their equals in age have been doing in all over the world. It means, these are the people which do not want to run away from Armenia, and are going to finally build a legal state. "Before these young people nobody disputed about pretension of the criminal to what does not belong to it. It has turned out that every time when suddenly somebody says or initiates something in Armenia, the community asks first of all - who is behind it? This means that nobody thinks that people can simply gather and do something. This is a natural fruit of the 20-year old policy in the Armenian way. Unfortunately, over these 20 years the Armenian society became accustomed to think that it is practically can do nothing. In such conditions when all people are confident in their disability, and when they see any initiative, they ask first of all - who, if not us? These are possible options: Russia, the West, KGB, CIA, the American Embassy, masons, etc. He also added that the only phenomenon which the society thinks it is its own - is criminal: "Cherny Gago" (black Gago), "Tokhmakhi Mher" (Mher from Tokhmakh district of Yerevan), Sashik, etc. "And the society never asks - who gave so many billions to Gagik Tsarukyan? If Robert Kocharyan, in that case, who gave them to Kocharyan? That is to say, the society recognizes everything regarding corruption and criminal like its own one, and never blames for something. Everywhere where the society sees no corruption and criminal, it asks - who finances these people?
Describe the essence of public-authorities conflict, please.
The oligarchic regime ruling in Armenia is based on usurpation of the property and the wealth of a whole nation. And when the regime is illegal, nothing can be legally privatized. Those people had freely misused our property for years until they faced people who said that what they had stolen was ours. This is the only way we can handle those usurpers. Calling them bandits did not work. So, we came and said: 'This is ours, give it back to us! And that was the beginning to the regime's crisis. The same happened in the 1988, when people came and said: 'Karabakh is ours, go away!'"
As regards the conflict between the young protesters and the police, the conflict started when the youth said that the policemen's actions were illegal and anti-constitutional and urged them to go away. The policemen refused, saying that they had no right to dispute the legality of the orders they received. We said if so, they would stand there for ever - and not only there but all over Armenia, wherever there was an illegal boutique. What we meant was that they would have either to give up or to ask Sahakashvili for additional policemen. The policemen realize that they are in a losing situation. "They say, 'You have no right to pass the barriers we have placed,' and we say, 'You have no right to place barriers here.' This is a legal dispute, where the opponents are hiding behind each other's backs: the mayor behind the police, the premier behind the mayor, the president is acting as if he has nothing to do with the whole thing. But this time we are firmly committed to go on, and our brigade will be growing.
That is, the Mashtots Park is just a small part of the dark phenomena that unveiled more serious problems in the system of state governance…
The situation is extremely serious and the public has no right to leave such big problems to the youth. The right to private property is inviolable. But it must be legal and not just on the paper. Methods of the fight for the constitutional statehoods are currently being revised. Our task is to make the public behave as the owners of their own country. Unfortunately, the greatest part of the public in Armenia subdues to illegal decisions. When people begin to protest against illegality this ugly phenomenon starts yielding and a constitutional state can be built instead. The authorities have just no methods to influence a man protesting against illegal demands. You can arrest him, beat him up, but never influence. There is peaceful protest against the police now. Tomorrow it may grow into peaceful protest against courts. It is a start of a new movement when people no longer ask but demand.