By Appo Jabarian / Executive Publisher/Managing Editor
There is absolutely no doubt that the May 6 Armenian parliamentary elections were marred by serious irregularities, large-scale bribes and outright fraud. Many political leaders and observers criticized the tainted polls — some with healthy, and some others with ulterior motives. Soon after the elections ended, Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) and Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) came under fire by Armenian former President Levon Ter-Petrossyan. Interestingly, former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, a ranking member of the rival Prosperous Armenia Party agreed expediently.
USA Armenian Life Magazine
There is absolutely no doubt that the May 6 Armenian parliamentary elections were marred by serious irregularities, large-scale bribes and outright fraud. Many political leaders and observers criticized the tainted polls — some with healthy, and some others with ulterior motives.
Soon after the elections ended, Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) and Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) came under fire by Armenian former President Levon Ter-Petrossyan. Interestingly, former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, a ranking member of the rival Prosperous Armenia Party agreed expediently.
Oskanian’s all-too-willingness to appease the former Pres. Ter-Petrossyan seems to have back-fired among his fellow PAP members. They questioned Oskanian’s allegiance.
Exacerbating the situation for Mr. Gagik Tsarukyan the leader of PAP, Oskanian arbitrarily declared that he “would strongly object to Prosperous Armenia’s establishing a coalition with the ruling Republican Party of Armenia again.” Naira Zohrabyan, the spokeswoman of PAP refuted Oskanian’s statement.
Committing one political fiasco after another, he erroneously boasted: “The reason for my leaving the government is that I was discontent with the situation. Do not think that the authorities longed for my resignation, rather, they (Pres. Sargsyan’s administration) not only offered me a post, but also begged me to stay.”
In reality, in early 2008, Mr. Oskanian had reportedly appealed and reportedly even engaged the lobbying services of second Pres. Kocharyan in order to convince Pres. Sargsyan to grant him a cabinet post. Back then despite Pres. Kocharyan’s efforts with then newly elected third Pres. Sargsyan; Oskanian was nixed.
Last week, belatedly speaking out against corrupt oligarchs, he declared: “It seems that people in high echelons of power began to realize that things cannot continue in this way.”
Commentators on A1plus.am questioned his honesty: “Some people asked why he did not criticize the authorities when he was holding a high-ranking position in the government?”
Oskanian stated: “When I was the country’s foreign minister, I was in no way related to the sectors I am criticizing today.”
But many observers are wondering, how come he has now closely associated himself with PAP’s Tsarukyan, one of Armenia’s top oligarchs?
Can anyone function in Armenia without being closely associated with the oligarchs? Twenty years have passed since Armenia’s independence from the former Soviet Union. Yet, unfortunately Armenia has not been able to free itself from the yoke of corrupt leaders and plunderers.
So why is Mr. Oskanian shedding crocodile tears and for whom? Is it because the current powers-that-be refuse to co-opt him?
Now that he is elected as a Member of Parliament, it is widely anticipated that he will milk to the max his new position by constantly barraging Armenian readers and viewers with endless chains of press conferences fueled by petty personal interests and political vendettas.
As if his dismal popularity both in the homeland and Diaspora wasn’t worrisome enough, a few days ago, he himself triggered a new wave of anti-Oskanian criticism. He said to Today’s Zaman Turkish daily: “If the problem over the Nagorno-Karabakh could be solved by Armenia and Turkey, then Turkey could open its border with Armenia.”
Was he hinting at his 2007 anti-Armenian declarations as FM? Back then he had ignited widespread indignation in Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora, when he expressed willingness to “hand” the liberated Armenian Karvadjar in Artsakh to Azerbaijan.
Exposing ex-FM’s true persona, in late 2011 the whistleblower website Wiki Leaks released a classified cable sent by U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch on February 25, 2010 to report on a meeting with former FM Oskanian.
During the meeting, the cable said, Oskanian accused Pres. Sargsyan of “mishandling the entire process. In Oskanian’s view, the controversy surrounding the protocols has prevented any movement on Nagorno Karabakh. … Oskanian criticized the manner in which President Sargsyan has handled the entire process. According to him, the President ‘put the cart before the horse.’”
“Oskanian did not understand why … Pres. Sargsyan began the process with Turkey so publicly, and how unprepared he was for the negative public reaction. … the President should have expended his political capital with Armenian citizens and the Diaspora to persuade them that some of the Nagorno Karabakh territories must be returned to Azerbaijan. … Oskanian said this had been his plan as Foreign Minister,” the cable says.
In response to the ambassador’s question on how to move the process forward, Oskanian responded that the “protocols cannot be left in abeyance. … He truly hopes the protocols will be ratified by both sides.”
Going further back, in a May 2000 article titled “Exchanging Meghri With Karabagh: Good Idea or Political Suicide?,” Harut Sassounian, Publisher of The California Courier blasted then FM Oskanian for the latter’s treasonous idea on giving Meghri to Azerbaijan. During a community forum in Glendale, California, Oskanian had tried to “sell” the Meghri Plan: “There are many rumors about the resolution of the Karabagh conflict. There are criticisms alleging that the Armenian authorities want to give Meghri to Azerbaijan. In fact, there is a small degree of truth in those rumors. Such a proposal on the exchange of territories has been made to the Armenian Republic, to the President of Armenia. … It has been rejected… But when people say that it’s treasonous to even think about it … This proposal has a certain logic. … because this proposal is worth thinking about.”
To which Sassounian swiftly responded in his commentary: “There isn’t much to think about in this proposal. Armenia is basically being asked to cede to Azerbaijan one of the most strategic parts of its already tiny territory in return for (Artsakh) Karabagh. This would be exchanging one Armenian territory with another. We would be cutting off Armenia from Iran, strategically a very important access to the outside world. By ceding Meghri, we would also be helping the Turks to achieve their age-old dream of Pan-Turkism, linking Turkey through Nakhitchevan and Meghri to the Turkic Republics of Central Asia. … I am confident that both Iran and Russia would strongly pressure Armenia not to go ahead with it in order to safeguard their interests. …Armenia has nothing to gain and much to lose from such an exchange.”
Why would any sitting President or future leaders re-engage his services fully knowing that during his decade-long tenure as FM, Oskanian has caused considerable political damage to Armenia?
Oskanian was Foreign Minister for too long, without having achieved any substantial gains for Armenia. Furthermore, Armenia squandered away many valuable opportunities for diplomatic gains in the international arena and even sustained self-inflicted damages thanks to FM Oskanian’s mishandling of several cases at the United Nations and elsewhere. He repeatedly failed in giving timely guidance to Armenia’s ambassadors. On many occasions, Armenia’s succeeding Permanent Representatives at the UN were deprived of effective political orientation because of their incompetent FM’s chronic inaction. And as a result, they have missed golden opportunities to cast important votes. Yet they simply abstained from voting causing an Armenian political retreat in the international arena.
It is also absurd that on countless occasions, as the foreign minister of a land-liberating state – Armenia – Oskanian obstinately mislabeled the liberated Armenian lands as “occupied” territories!
In reference to Oskanian’s 2007 championing of the so-called Madrid Principles, David Boyajian, a leading Armenian American activist asked: “Does Oskanian have any guiding principles at all?”
In 2004, when UK Amb. Thorda Abbott-Watt denied the Armenian Genocide there was total silence at the Armenian Foreign Ministry. When criticized for his timid muteness then FM Oskanian claimed that he had given a diplomatic note “strongly criticizing” the British amb.’s denial. But later it became clear that contrary to his allegations Oskanian had simply given a friendly note advising the denialist UK Ambassador to ignore the Armenian Genocide issue.
One wonders if Oskanian is more sensitive to his own personal interests at the expense of the Armenian people. His over-zealous attempts to appease Turkey and its cronies make Armenians wonder if he is qualified to hold any diplomatic or government post. Recently over 2000 students in Turkey were poisoned by toxic milk provided free of charge by Ankara. Is it possible that Oskanian too drank tainted Turkish milk?