Fact or Fantasy:
Contemplating Life and the Armenia Beyond
By Raffi K. Hovannisian
Yerevan—This 21st anniversary of the Republic of Armenia is my moment of ultimate truth. That moment can define and distinguish each of us or, even better, nurture common human ground. In a world of so many differences, I favor the latter.
1. I shall devote the next 100 days to the creation of a compelling citizens’ candidacy for the presidency of ancient Armenia’s modern state. Whether it is I or someone else who ultimately becomes the carrier of that quest, scheduled for the dawn of 2013, a few basic requirements apply.
2. Our beleaguered homeland, where I was not born but to which I returned two decades and a couple of years ago, must hold its first democratic elections since its post-Soviet independence in 1991. Armenia needs a new, de jure president.
3. The new administration will serve for one term only; the fourth presidency will not seek reelection.
4. Over the following five years, the Armenian nation will convene a constitutional congress, proclaim a parliamentary republic, enforce the rule of law, separate powers and make them accountable, divorce big business from public governance, safeguard civil liberties, lift the immunity of officials, and through offices of a special prosecutor root out corruption, graft, and conflicts of interest from the presidency on down. There shall be no exceptions to supremacy of the human right.
5. Every person resident in the country, whether ethnically Armenian or representative of a minority, and every compatriot living in dispersion will be ensured fair access to citizenship, with all pertinent duties and entitlements, including those of suffrage, dignity in life and death, due process, and equal access to and protection under the law.
6. Homeland and Diaspora together will find the contemporary formula for nation-building, economic development, environmental conscientiousness, citizen prosperity, and global statesmanship.
7. With humility but self-confidence, Armenia finally will forge, frame, and make relevant its vital national interests and international imperatives.
8. The Republic shall cherish its sovereignty and at once become a true contributor to the strategic balance in its region and the world. It will recast its unbecoming vertical relationship with the Russian Federation, achieve partnership on a mutually respectful horizontal plane, and diversify its outreach through separate but equivalent connections with NATO and CSTO, China and India, an improved Georgia, a renewed Iran and the broader Middle East.
9. By the midpoint of the presidency, on April 24, 2015, the centennial anniversary of the Genocide and Great Dispossession of the Armenian people and its patrimony, the Republic of Turkey will find the political courage and moral fortitude to surmount the Turkish-Armenian divide, to recognize that unprecedented crime against humanity, and to deliver reconciliation through truth and normalization through meaningful restitution. Overcoming its deep-seated strain of denialism, Turkey will take responsibility by rolling back its blockade of Armenia, establishing diplomatic relations without reference to outdated protocols or other conditionalities, and launching a landmark process of negotiation with the Armenian nation for closure of mankind’s gaping wound, for restoration of individual and collective rights, and for a program of guaranteed return to a national home. Absent a significant change in Ankara’s long-standing approach, Yerevan will release its own demands and preconditions on that day. Along with these, it will unveil a monument in honor of those righteous Turks and Kurds who saved Armenian lives, including my grandmother’s, during the Genocide.
10. Before overseeing the conduct of benchmark elections to usher in a new parliament, prime minister and then president, Armenia’s fourth administration will recognize both the Mountainous Karabagh Republic and the Azerbaijani Republic against the background of their respective, legitimate, and post-Bolshevik territorial integrities. Sui generis (for Kosovo or anything else) is copout, or at best a legal manipulation for the projection of power, and the international community too will come clean and apply the rule of law in this case. All refugees of all nationalities can then be permitted secure exercise of their recourse to repatriation. But it is crystal clear, and beyond debate, that Artsakh will never again suffer the suzerainty of a regime that glorifies axe-murderers and destroys in broad daylight cultural treasures such as the medieval cross-stone cemetery of Jugha.
11. Armenia, an antique source of Western civilization, will become a member of the European Union, not in the instant period, but during the service of its subsequent government. Led by a promising generation of educated young brainpower and civic activism, the nation will own a Constitution that is no longer a mere documentation of dreams and declarations. It will assert mastery of a functioning parliamentary republic. It will revere its own sovereignty and interests and the birthright of its citizens.
12. And it will expect Europe, and the world, to do the same.
Fiction or finally not, these points will shape the contours of Armenia’s domestic credentials and geopolitical capacities into the foreseeable future. I might have a few more to add later on, especially in light of the realities, both hard and soft, which are bound to be triggered by its most pivotal election of all time.
Raffi Hovannisian, independent Armenia’s first minister of foreign affairs, currently chairs the Heritage Party