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South Caucasus


Georgi Vanyan, interview
Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives chairman's interview to “Turan” agency.

Do you agree that the reason for such an abrupt aggravation of the contradictions and the split of the Armenian society is the struggle for power between the opposition and the authorities? Are there any other problems of social nature?сть ли тут какие-то другие проблемы, скажем, социального характера?

No, I don’t agree. Firstly, talking of the split, I would like to point out that the concept of the split of the society has been introduced and up to present widely used since the first signs of the activity stirred by Levon Ter-Petrosyan. The meaning used locally suggests about the “split of the Armenian people”.

The word “split” implies a struggle of ideas, irreconcilable struggle of ideas, so contradictory that the bearers of such ideas form two irreconcilable camps. A vivid example can be the fight between the fascists and antifascists, the fight of Bolsheviks and the followers of tsarist. Armenia has never had and still has no any single confrontation.

Secondly, no matter how much I strived to view the latest events, resulted in murders of innocent people, in the context of the struggle position-opposition for power or as a result of social polarization, whatever will be said will be simply an evasion from the real point, since this problem is much deeper.

Since the times of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the political arena of Armenia was and remains to be in the hands of the same “Karabakh” Committee sent on a mission out of USSR ruins, various echelons of the very committee, various subcommittees of the very committee and the pioneering caused by the very committee in the name of separate figures and the opposite parties which following the current situation from time to time are castling the positions and exchanging with respective levers. Both in these and the previous elections, under the suggested circumstances it is impossible to somehow guess the melody because everybody sings the same song about the “Pro-Russian-patriotism” and “National-liberation”.

What is the reason for such an active support of a considerable number of population in favour of Ter-Petrosian, whom most people considered to be politically dead?

Searches of the so-called “political dead body” in places where there no politics, in places where the so-called politics is a phenomenon of stillbirth is an ungrateful matter. Do please point to one “living politician”!

The overwhelming majority of the population supporting Ter-Petrosyan has counted on the prevention of the usual reproduction of the authority.

Is that true that one of the reasons for the crisis was the dislike of local Armenians for Karabakh Armenians?

Under conditions where there lack any political ideas, political fields and legal state, the approach to the authorities, discontent for the authorities are strongly personified. In such cases the union between business and the authorities, protectionism brought about a quite grounded definition called “Clannish management”. Should a person from Aparan or Gyumri make a president tomorrow, his or her origin is sure to be speculated on the same level. As a matter of fact it can be considered to be a kind of form of manifestation of a social protest under the condition of absence of opposition thought, opposition activity as such. Undoubtedly, it is a negative occurrence and the speculations on the opposition of Armenians in Armenia and Karabakh Armenians, unfortunately, goes beyond the limits of internal political speculations by transforming a mere social occurrence on the level of provocation within the context of the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict. That is not the reason, but the consequence of the crisis.

How do you personally see the way out of the crisis?

A crisis is our reality, the conditions in which we lived before and which we will continue to live after a detailed well-considered provocation which was active in the course of the electoral and post-electoral process in Armenia.

The events of March 1 held in Yerevan took lives of innocent people. It is already a week that the civilians of Armenia has not be provided with any official information about the time, place and reasons of their death. The victims with few exceptions keep showing indifference, the public is not informed about the age, the place of residence and occupation of those deceased. The prolonged absence of information about the deceased which is provided as a part of the state of emergency is vivid evidence of devaluation of human lives.

Today, under the conditions of the announced state of emergency, all the statements and declarations made by official persons to keep the civilians informed about the latest events remain to be unsubstantiated. The inertia of the application of pre- and post-electoral agitation is still being carried out. The subject on the split of the society is still being speculated on. Political estimations are made in the speeches of officials and targeted propaganda is being carried out. All these lead to the worsening of the atmosphere of fear and distrust.

Attempts directed at the adjustment of this situation, inconsiderable softening of the formulation and vague promises like “a worthy way out of the crises” cannot erase the traces of the experienced shock, cannot erase the feeling of fear, confusion and humiliation. The scales of the provocative action are so huge that every citizen of Armenia has become a victim. Is it possible to change the reality which admitted the realization of this provocation? At this moment, I do not have any answers to this question. A crisis can be studied. It is also possible to find reasons and ways out. When one is faced with a “successfully” carried out provocation, the consequences, as the history shows, are irreversible. The consequence of the provocation as a “cancerous growth” is spread and modified by challenging the entire society and every person.

What should the Armenian and Azerbaijan intellectuals do to prevent a further aggravation of the situation and recommencement of military actions?

Today, under the conditions of the internal political crisis in Armenia, the bankruptcy of peacemaking process, both political and civil ones can be clearly seen. Despite the fact that there exist numerous non-governmental and international organizations, neither the public of Armenia, nor the public of Azerbaijan are in no condition to prevent further aggravation of the situation and the resumption of the conflict. Today, we are faced with two different versions of military confrontation on the frontiers. The data concerning the deceased officially announced by Armenian and Azerbaijan sides differ, the same concerns the versions of the latest events. It is already a normal phenomenon for us, it has been a usual form of “preservation of the regime of the cease-fire” for over many years.

The lack of information, guessing on the number of the deceased is not only a gross violation of human rights, but also an action going beyond the limits of morals. It is the action for which one ought to be punished. What do the international structures which are engaged in the negotiating processes do? Did the civilians of Armenia and Azerbaijan, the public figures, law followers, peacemakers, intellectuals, thinkers, whatever you may call them, make a single real step so as to determine the specific initiators of numerous incidents occurred in the confrontation line? And where is the very mechanism, if used, when any citizen concerned about the future, can influence the situation, demand and insist on the realization of the peacemaking process? A crisis and devaluation of peacemaking procedures and the defense of rights are already on hand. It is a universal challenge for all of us, both Armenians and Azerbaijans.

How is your joint project on shooting a movie on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict going on?

At this moment the realization of all the projects of Caucasus Center of Peacemaking Initiatives are suspended. The latest events in Armenia cannot but make us reconsider all our plans and projects. I have already pointed out that we are faced with specific challenges, if ignored or reacted mechanically to our own ideas and plans is equivalent to inactivity.

As for the movie, I would like to say that there is a movie entitled “Open up borders!”, which is not a joint project but created by Caucasus Center of Peacemaking Initiatives. This movie does not deal with conflicts, it shows what people living in Armenia and Karabakh think of Armenian-Azerbaijan relations. We are doing our best so that this movie will be open and acceptable to a wide range of people, both in Armenia and Karabakh and Azerbaijan.

March 7, 2008