By Ruzanna Stepanian
Armenia’s reclusive former President Levon Ter-Petrosian has published a promised book on medieval Armenian history that drew praise from the head of the country’s largest writers association on Monday.
The first 600-page volume of the book, available in Yerevan’s book stores since December, presents and analyzes close contacts between European Crusaders and the once thriving Armenian kingdom of Cilicia that existed from the 11-15th centuries. Ter-Petrosian aides said the ex-president took six years to write and is now working on the second volume.
The book, titled “The Crusaders and Armenians,” gives readers insights into one of the least researched subjects of Armenian history. Cilicia, which was located along the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean, was a major transit point in the medieval crusades to the Holy Land, resulting in a great deal of interaction between the local population and European knights.
“I think that the book looks through a scientific prism at historical scripts that have not been at the center of our historians’ attention until now,” Levon Ananian, chairman of the Writers Union of Armenia, told RFE/RL. “Levon Ter-Petrosian has thus made a serious and weighty contribution to Armenian studies.”
A Ter-Petrosian spokesman, Avetis Avagian, said the man who led Armenia to independence in 1991 plans no special events to present or promote the book. Ter-Petrosian, who turned 61 on Monday, has rarely been seen in public or spoken to the media since his resignation almost nine years ago.
“Fortunately, Levon Ter-Petrosian is not hibernating on his laurels of the first president of Armenia but is actively participating in Armenian studies,” said Ananian. “As head of the Writers Union, I am pleased to see his return to active creative work.”
Ter-Petrosian was a senior researcher at Yerevan’s famous Institute of Ancient Manuscripts before being propelled into politics in 1988. He also remains a member of the Writers Union.