Excessive Negativism and Constant Attacks

Jeopardize Armenia’s Developments

With reservations Keghart.com reproduces former Under-Secretary-General of UN Benon Sevan’s article from Gibrahayer e-Magazine. Please read Ara K. Manoogian’s response following the article .-Editor

By Benon Sevan, Gibrahayer 13 October 2011

It is truly disheartening to read the ongoing negative reports and columns in some news outlets in the Diaspora and Armenia regarding the current political, economic and social conditions in the Republic of Armenia, as well as the constant efforts by certain personalities and political parties to denigrate the Government of Armenia and its record.

Jeopardize Armenia’s Developments

With reservations Keghart.com reproduces former Under-Secretary-General of UN Benon Sevan’s article from Gibrahayer e-Magazine. Please read Ara K. Manoogian’s response following the article .-Editor

By Benon Sevan, Gibrahayer 13 October 2011

It is truly disheartening to read the ongoing negative reports and columns in some news outlets in the Diaspora and Armenia regarding the current political, economic and social conditions in the Republic of Armenia, as well as the constant efforts by certain personalities and political parties to denigrate the Government of Armenia and its record.

Of all the hundreds of negative reports, is not there at least a single positive development to report on? Contrary to the ongoing politically motivated negativism, there are indeed many successes and improvements achieved in Armenia which deserve to be congratulated and encouraged. One gets tired of reading what is being said by all these so-called pundits, rabble-rousers, including self-serving former government officials pursuing their own personal agenda to bring about a regime change not through the ballot box but through encouraging a mob culture. Unfortunately, what we have been witnessing is indeed tragic with the potential of dire consequences to the stability of the young Republic that recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary.

No country has become democratic right away. It is categorically wrong and naïve to measure democracy in Armenia, which gained its independence only twenty years ago, with the same measuring stick used for democracies in other countries, such as France, the United Kingdom and the United States, which took centuries to reach their current stage of democracy. I ask all those who have adopted a negative attitude to read history. It was not the Armenians who invented the guillotine; it was not the Armenians who hanged their opponents from the Tower of London; and it was not the Armenians who practiced slavery and/or segregation based on color or race. How long did it take for some of Europe’s democracies to give their women the right to vote?

In as much as one can understand the impatience and frustration expressed with regard to the current situation in Armenia, we have no alternative but to be patient. One cannot simply bring about democracy through legislation alone; nor can it be imported or imposed through the barrel of the gun or by rousing the mob. We must fully bear in mind our history: over 70 years of communist rule, preceded by about two years of a most fragile independence, and by over five centuries of Ottoman rule.

We simply cannot divorce ourselves from the burden and dire consequences of having lived under occupation for so many centuries. Regardless of our impatience and desire to witness a truly democratic state of Armenia, we have no alternative to being patient, because it takes time to develop democracy, economic and social development, and civil society, as well as true democratic reforms. We need to develop, among other things, political maturity, change of mentality and outlook, which take time and cannot be achieved through legislation alone. Nor can they be achieved through the mob.

Undoubtedly, the Republic of Armenia, similar to many other countries, has its own share of serious difficulties, compounded by the current political and economic crisis and uncertainties worldwide, and its geographical location in a rather dangerous neighborhood, blockaded by Turkey and Azerbaijan, and with an ambiguous relationship with Georgia. Undoubtedly, there is much to be desired with regard to the prevalent political, economic and social conditions in Armenia. There are, among others, corrupt practices, inconsistencies in the application of the justice system, as well as poverty and unemployment that forces many Armenians to emigrate. Are these conditions unique only to Armenia? How about the current high unemployment figures and the deteriorating social conditions in some of the strongest democratic states as well as their financial difficulties requiring massive bailouts, and facing possible defaults?

It is long overdue for Mr. Levon Ter-Petrossian, the first President of the Republic of Armenia, to stop his corrosive activities pursuing his personal agenda through endless rallies to bring about a regime change. He should look into the mirror and remember what went on during his own administration and should review his own record and legacy before throwing stones at others. Some of the current practices, which he has been so critical of, started during his own administration. Mr. Ter-Petrossian, if you want to become the next President of the Republic of Armenia, organize yourself peacefully and put your candidacy during the next election. Let the people decide who should be the President through their ballots. Stop your divisive and destructive actions, calling constantly for demonstrations which might get out of hand with very serious consequences.

Irrespective of the negativism prevailing among certain circles, both within Armenia and the Diaspora, Armenia has indeed a considerable number of talented and fully committed professionals, both within the Government, the Ministries and the private sector, as well as in different segments of the society. We should recognize and give credit where it is due for all the progress being made. We should all unite and spare no effort in supporting and encouraging them to speed up the development of democratic institutions, as well as strengthening the economy and raising the living standards.

In conclusion, I appeal to all political leaders, political pundits, and the media, both in Armenia and the Diaspora, to refrain from any action that may incite violence. I should also like to appeal to all my compatriots to concentrate their efforts and energies towards the strengthening of the young Republic. All Armenians should unite because we complement each other; our survival as Armenians is truly inter-dependent. The strengthening and the security as well as good governance, economic and social development of the Republic of Armenia should be the primary objective of all of us, above all other interests.

Response to Benon Sevan’s Call to Shut Up

Benon Sevan, former Head of the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program, has provided well intended recommendations for Armenia’s development, with a side effect of prolonging and strengthening the tenure of the incumbent corrupt Armenian government. His good intentions are laid out in an article, "Excessive Negativism and Constant Attacks Jeopardize Armenia’s Development,"
published in the California Courier on October 13. 2011.

Sevan insists that we, Armenians, have no alternative to being patient, because it takes time to develop democracy. Although he does not provide an exact duration of the proposed patience, one thing is clear, he talks about centuries: "How long did it take for some of Europe’s democracies to give their women the right to vote?" He then goes on speaking about the French guillotine, slavery in the U.S., and so on. Sevan expects Armenia to relive the past stages of world history to deserve a true democracy. In fact, Armenia is reliving some historic moments to a certain extent. A few months ago, I read about an Armenian slave camp run by Marat Janvelyan, one of the untouchable oligarchs of Armenia. No prosecution or investigation followed this hairsplitting "negative report" about the sad reality in 21st century Armenia. (The full story can be read here).

I wonder if it was thanks to such patience that today Georgia, Armenia’s post-Soviet neighbor, can boast about the biggest leap towards democracy in the same "rather dangerous neighborhood", Sevan’s moniker for the South Caucasus.

Sevan complains about the abundance of "negative reports" in media. He urges all concerned citizens to stop criticizing the government for corruption and cheer for its little successes. Cheering may work for a soccer team, but not for a corrupt government that has no will to commit to democratic reforms. Such approach is also reminiscent of the mode of civil behavior the totalitarian Soviet leaders preached for their subjects. In many ways, a totalitarian regime is democracy minus public criticism of itself. However, Sevan has his own reasons why all the critical voices should be silenced — he is tired of all the negativism in the Armenian news outlets with regards to the problems in Armenia and labels any effort or approval of public dissent as "encouraging mob culture."

Benon Sevan is tired. Actually, he is so tired that he forgets all bread is not baked in one oven. He muddles Levon Ter-Petrosyan with journalists and human rights activists who voice their concerns about the problems in the country. I personally believe that all the three presidents of independent Armenia need to be prosecuted for their crimes against Armenia’s statehood and citizens. For a better understanding of the economic crimes of the Armenian governments past and present, I recommend that one read, "To Donate or Not to Donate," a white paper on "Hayastan" All-Armenian Fund.

Benon Sevan appears to have demonstrated such leniency toward mismanagement before. Back in 2005, he was accused of accepting bribes from the government of Saddam Hussein from 1996 to 2003, when he was the chief of UN Oil-for-Food Porgramme. This allegation by the IIC was never proved in the court of law, since Sevan moved to Cyprus. However, judging from evidence, he is either guilty of corruption or has been lenient toward corruption in the system itself. In either case, his recommendations to journalists, political and civil activists about the mode of conduct with regards to the Armenian government are, to put it mildly, incompetent.

Patience is another word for indifference. For too long, Armenians in the Diaspora have remained patient toward unrestrained abuses of the monopolies, suffocation of small and medium private entrepreneurship, as well as widespread poverty in Armenia’s provincial regions, continuous mass emigration, and alarming frequency of forced suicides and murders in the army. I can no longer read the frequent disturbing news about the murders in the Armenian army. It is a psychological barrier. Nonetheless, I consider each and every one of those reports utterly important for ensuring mass awareness, which has often proved to be the only guarantee of achieving justice in Armenia’s corrupt judicial system.

Recently and finally,Charles Aznavour spoke up about the real condition of Armenia and, unfortunately for Benon Sevan, became a source of yet another "negative report." [Interview Part I, Part II]. In his interview to Nouvelles d’Armenie, he spoke about Mafiosi "who are literally devouring the villagers on their lands," profiting from the collapse of the economy. Aznavour went as far as to stress the need to execute them. Unlike Aznavour, Sevan may have no firsthand information about the true nature of people running Armenia. Nonetheless, I hope Benon Sevan and those who share his idea that patience has no alternative will not be too slow to realize the urgency of change.

I have been and will be voicing my concerns over injustice in Armenia and fighting for improvement, because I believe that Armenia can do better, and will, as long as concerned citizens keep pushing.

Ara K. Manoogian is a human rights activist representing the Shahan Natalie Family Foundation in Artsakh and Armenia; a Fellow of the Washington-based Policy Forum Armenia (PFA); creator of www.thetruthmustbetold.com and author of the white paper "To Donate Or Not To Donate," an in depth study on the activities of the "Hayastan" All-Armenian Fund.

 

10 comments
  1. Trending Negativism

    I was surprised that the Editorial Board of Keghart.com posted Benon Sevan’s article with reservation. I am not implying that the editorial board should have embraced it. “It is what it is” as said and Benon Sevan articulates what some of us feel at times.
     
    Ara Manougian’s rebuttal is what Benon Sevan, in my view, is alluding that should not happen in the Armenian media and that is the blanketed criticism across the board instead of a balanced analysis. Slavery in a farm in Armenia run by an oligarch or a Mafiosi is not a statement or a reflection of the current President and his government. However, that is not meant to say that that particular despicable happening should not be condemned and positive happenings ignored or not reported.  
     
    I never knew that patience is another word for indifference, as Ara alludes. I may be old fashioned to still believe that haste does make waste and that patience being a virtue does not imply idleness or passivism. Reading further Ara’s rebuttal I seem to also have missed that Georgia is stampeding and progressing leaps and bounds towards establishing a fairer, equitable and a more accountable governance that may still trickle down to the Georgian Armenians in Javakhk and into good neighborly relations. No wonder then that Saakashvili flew a masseuse from America to relieve the pressures off of his tired back.
     
    Indeed Ara, having hammered Armenia Fund, could he not have found also  “at least a single positive development to report on?” especially after having lived in Armenia.  Did he really need to cast a doubt on the character of the messenger by alluding to Benon Sevan’s controversial dealing in US to bolster his rebuttal? I bet he finds Benon Sevan tired because he disagrees with his message. I have yet come to a point to believe that “Armenia can do better, and will, as long as concerned citizens keep pushing” by writing such negative  rebuttals or " reports and columns".
     
    I tend to agree with Benon Sevan, one gets disheartened at times at the trending of negativism and I wonder if any reader was enthused reading Ara’s rebuttal to Benon Sevan’s concerns.
     

      

  2. What Reservation? Why Reservation?

    Both Sevan and Manoogian have relevant insight on pressing matters.  Please forgive me, but why should Khegart.com have reservation about publishing either one?  Doesn’t an informed and rationale thinking middle class need to read both?

    1. Opportunity to look at both

      "With reservations Keghart.com reproduces former Under-Secretary-General of UN Benon Sevan’s article from Gibrahayer e-Magazine. Please read Ara K. Manoogian’s response following the article .-Editor"

      I think Keghart.com has done the right thing by publishing Benon Sevan’s article and Ara Manoogian’s response in sequence. The readers can evaluate the merits and/or the drawbacks of both.

      The way I understand the editor’s note (quoted above) the "reservations" refer to Benon Sevan’s opinions.

  3. Keghart should publish

    First, Keghart should publish more articles by Mr. Sevan, and without lame monikers like ‘with some reservations’.

    Secondly,  Ara Manoogian is exactly the type of person Mr. Sevan is referring to in his article, the rabble rousers.  The man has nothing positive to say about Armenia, and goes out of his way to link various (un-related) events to the present government of Armenia, as Vahe pointed out.  Just as Mr. Manoogian has been voicing his so called ‘concerns over injustice in Armenia’, I too have been and will continue to voice my concerns over anti-Armenian psy-ops and provacations by domestic and foreign agents of outside powers.

    1. What about Charles Aznavoure’s latest interview?

      Dear LG,

      Did you read Charles Aznavoure’s interview to Nouvelle D’Armenie, and translated into English by hetq on-line that Ara Manoogian refers to? I am sure you are aware that he is an ambassador of Republic of Armenia.

      Will you tell Aznavour to shut up? Will you tell him that he and all others who are raising their voice against curruption and injustice that they are "foreign agents"?

      It’s a matter of volume; some are more emphatic and forceful in their opinions than others, but they don’t deserve to be accused of something that they are not. Some will consider them concerned patriots.

      Benon Sevan basically is calling for censorship and encouraging us to be protagosnists of the present authorities of Armenia. Do you approve of it?

      1. What About Aznavour?

         Noubar,

        I do not perceive that Benon Sevan’s article is conveying what you are alleging–censorship. He acknowledges "there is much to be desired in Armenia." However, in reporting on these undesirables, he is advocating that we "recognize and give credit where it is due for all the progress being made." Basically, he is arguing against a trend in negative reporting.

        Charles Aznavour is forcefully voicing his concerns over Mafia- like happenings in Armenia. Yet again, he has vested in Armenia. Unlike Ara Manougian, he has never argued or vacillated whether to "donate or not donate."

         
  4. Benon’s and Ara’s Articles

    Benon and Ara are on the extreme sides of the pole. An experienced and gentle man like Benon who loves his country, his people and his culture shouldn’t overestimate the positive developments of the present administration (I don’t want to say that the previous administrations were in better position). I would ask Benon to go to Armenia, specially to the suburbs of Yerevan, to Giumry, Vanadzor and the villages, talk to the people who are still there and assess the situation.

    I would also ask Ara, with my respects for his experiences and humanistic approaches to put away his dark glasses. Ara also is a concerned person who believes in democracy, fights for human rights and social justice. One should understand that he is speaking from the bottom of his heart and he cannot close his eyes to the ongoing injustices and the harsh life that an ordinary Armenian family is experiencing since independence.

    Minas Kojayan
    Teacher

  5. Why is Everyone so Critical

    Why is everyone so critical of criticism? How else will you be aware of the injustices going on in Armenia, the corruption, people fleeing their homeland for lack of economic stability, oligarchs abusing the population, lawlesness, and a lot more?

    There is so much news, TV programs showing the positives in Armenia; we all are very happy for that and most of us help to better the situation. People who criticize the wrong that goes on in the county are the owners who love their homeland, who are concerned and want positive changes to happen. If you don’t bring up the problems and make the population aware, how will you fix the problems? I absolutely agree with Ara Manoogian.

  6. “I’m very disappointed in Keghart” and “Bravo Mr. Sevan!”

    Keghart.com receives comments whose authors cannot be identified due to invalid e-mail addresses. Only on this occasion we would allow posting a couple of those to remind readers not to post without a valid e-mail address that cannnot be traced back. Secondly, we would urge that commentators click on the link provided by Keghart.com following posting a comment. It’s a process to protect the identity of the author and prevent spam.

    Below are the messages to two of those authors. No replies were received because of invalid e-mails. Their comments appear further down. Editor

    ***

    Dear Harry,

    Please click on the link that you received from Keghart.com to activate your comment so that it can be published. This is a process to protect your e-mail against fraudulent users and prevent spam.

    Respectfully,

    Dikran Abrahamian

    ***

    Dear Concerned Armenian,

    Your comment is edited as shown below. I assume you may have read the cautionary note at the time when you submitted this comment, and read about expressions not allowed. May I suggest that you find more appropriate words designated in brackets [xxxx]?

    Keghart.com is for dialogue and not for accusations and libel.

    Finally, would you please click on the link that you received from Keghart so that the comment can be activated? This process is in place to protect your identity and prevent spam.

    You may make changes on this e-mail.

    Respectfully,

    Dikran Abrahamian

    ***

    I’m very disappointed in Keghart

    Posted by Harry on 24-10-2011

    What a disgusting thing Keghart did by coupling Mr. Benon Sevan’s lucid work with that of Ara Manoogian’s poisonous rant. As a middle aged diasporan Armenian who spends every summer in Armenia I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Sevan’s assessments. There is way too much poisonous rhetoric being spewed by Washington’s agents throughout the Armenian community. Ara Manoogian is part of a Washington funded and/or inspired network of operatives that is tasked with sowing the seeds of destruction in Armenia by publicly airing Armenia dirty laundry on a 24/7 basis. They want to break the Armenian spirit. We know what their intentions are. We have seen the work of Ara Manoogian’s comrades-in-arms in places like Serbia, Russia, Iran, Syria and Libya. Again, I’m very disappointed in Keghart.

    ***

    Bravo Mr. Sevan!

    Posted by Concerned Armenian 23-10-2011

    Bravo Mr. Sevan! Finally, a public figure that makes perfect sense with regards to Armenia.

    It is a fact that regardless of their education or wealth Armenians today are political illiterates. Thus, Armenians are Armenia’s biggest enemies. There is a serious psychologial operation campaign being carried out against Armenia. We must all fight against this Washingtonian media blitz against Armenia.

    By constantly harping on Armenia’s problems, their primary intention is to break the Armenian spirit. Their political agenda is to topple Armenia’s Russia-backed administration. They want to replace the current government by one that serves Western energy interests.

    We must call out the many petty [xxx] doing Washington’s dirty work in Armenian society.

    If Washington’s globalist [xxxx]-hits-the-fan in Armenia, [xxxxxxxxxx] [xxxxx] like Ara Manoogian will be amongst the first ones shot like stray [….] by Armenia’s interior ministry troops and Russia’s GRU.

  7. Rosy-Coloured Perceptions

    Benon Sevan paints a post-Soviet Armenia in a little over-rosy colours. It does not matter so much. Let´s  say he is optimistic, sees a 5% Yerevan quasi comparable to some Western standard–the stores, cafes, restaurants, the new airport, several  bridges. He overlooks what I have seen while travelling in the countryside to check on schools renovated or new ones built. What I saw was poverty.

    I have come to think  that Armenia was placed  on a wrong course after the break up of the Soviet regime. A dictatorial regime was put  in place by the wild and free market economy. Alas.

    Armenia and the 14 other republics should have gone through a transitional period, like Portugal, Spain and Greece did, (all dictatorial but the reverse of the "workers´ paradise" Soviet Union) but nonetheless  dictatorial.

    What should be done now?

    A  change is due  there–not by revolution but evolution. I suggest new candidates for the next elections.  But even with new actors on the stage Armenia will still have to cope with what  the trio (Ter-Petrossian, Kocharian, Sargssian) left  behind. Perhaps one factor that may help them advance without much hindrances would be the Diaspora–a re-organized one and with some domineering quantities.

    For the present world economic crunch may and can hit and change the current in RoA as well. They claim it  will not affect it, but, it is very questionable. What with people leaving  in droves in search of work abroad, unrest in neighbouring countries and the two perennial adversaries of Armenia/Armenians eyeing Armenia, and who knows even stirring dissension, disputes and rivalries among  ruling and government officials and oligarchs.

    Precaution must be  the most important requisite by us in the Diaspora; not to meddle too much in their affairs, which does not mean not to recommend  fairer electoral system and governance by more moderate and savvy people. Let us pray for the best and try to get our own  house in order to begin with. Critique is good but in moderation.  

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