Many of my friends and people I respect believe that if Ter-Petrosyan were president (again), things would change. But I’m a bit more skeptical: I mean, he had his chance. This isn’t some unknown individual we’re talking about. It’s a man who was elected president, not once, but twice. Why do you think a third term would change anything?
Photo: courtesy of Armenian National Congress website
The other thing that brings out the skeptic in me is how Ter-Petrosyan has achieved almost god-like status. He is revered like a saviour, a man who will bring the country out of the many messes that it’s in. He is seen to be a man of the people, but yet, I wonder: was that the case when he was president? I doubt it.
I want to say, listen, we all want change. Many, many people are unhappy with how the current government is running things. Yes, there are people still imprisoned for their views, yes, there’s corruption, yes, there’s poverty... but why are you so sure that if Levon Ter-Petrosyan is president, things will change, or at least get better?
I want to say, listen, I want a revolution too. But in the course of world history, when did revolution ever happen from the top down, from the government? Revolution comes from the people. It is grassroots-based. There are many examples in history to prove this and in other countries that have been worse off than Armenia.
I was talking with a good friend yesterday and she confirmed what I had suspected: it’s a Soviet mentality. The belief, the expectation that the state will take care of you. That things will only change (and get better) if you have good government. Someone in power who will make it all happen for you. But why would you think that a single (and in this case, I can use the accurate term here) Caucasian man make it all better?
I believe in the power of the people, not power attributed to a single individual (whether that be a man or a woman, Caucasian or not), but to a group, a collective. I didn’t grow up in a Soviet country. Sure, I had it easy: Canada has a well-developed (what some call) socialist system. To a certain extent, it can take care of its citizens. However, there were (and still are) things that need to change, need to get better. I have participated in those rallies, I have seen how the facade of the state easily breaks down, I have struggled for change. I don’t want to compare what “struggles” I’ve had or participated in Canada with the struggles here in Armenia, but the point I want to make is wanting change, wanting revolution is nothing new, and not exclusive to Armenia. The difference is in many other places and reviewing the histories of many other countries, change didn’t come from change in government (which Ter-Petrosyan and his followers are calling for).
Change comes with revolution and revolution comes from the people.
I’ve just started reading Thomas de Waal’s Black Garden. It’s interesting to read what transpired 10, 14, 16 years ago and trace the history to understand how we got here. (And this through the eyes of an “outsider,” someone who’s neither Armenian, Azerbaijani or Turkish.) Highly recommended reading for our times and for better understanding the South Caucasus. It’s also interesting, though perhaps not surprising, that the same players are involved: I’m reading the names of the same politicians who are still around today, in some form or another. Does nothing ever change?
What do you think? If you follow Armenian politics, do you support Ter-Petrosyan, Serzh Sargsyan, some other politician or no one? What do you think needs to happen for the situation in Armenia to improve?