Dear Mr. Kocharyan
Congratulations on Wednesday's re-election and
your second term as President of Armenia. As I
write this, the Opposition is still saying you
didn't win, but they said that about the first
round, too, and nothing changed.
You know, of course, that many are not pleased
with the means by which victory was guaranteed.
Given that the margin of your win was great (35
percent), why was it necessary to mar your achievement
with so much illegality? What could have been
a mandate is instead a second term that comes
with an asterisk.
Still. It is a new day and a new term and because
most in this country are not represented by either
the ballot-stuffing thugs or the ill-spoken reactionaries,
life will go on its orderly way.
You have a chance now to show us who you are.
No longer burdened with the need to secure another
five years, will we see a man less aligned to
power brokers and more concerned for the common
Some, perhaps many, who want to believe in you
but have found it hard to do so because of your
poor human rights record, are waiting to see if
you shed those who might lead you wrong in those
areas, but whose presence in your fold has assured
A Diaspora friend of mine phoned on election
day to ask how the voting was going. I told him
it was a repeat of Feb. 19.
"I've heard Kocharyan is not a bad guy,
but is surrounded by bad guys," my friend
said. "But if he's the man in charge why
doesn't he get rid of the bad guys?"
To turn this into "good guy/bad guy"
is way too simple of course, but it's a valid
question isn't it?
Show us your campaign slogan "Let's Work
Together" is more than just a slogan. Let
"us" work together ought to include
those who too often are "them", the
ones without the power to get your attention.
And it's all about power here, isn't it? My men
have more muscle than your men. My Mercedes is
newer than your Mercedes. My black coats are longer
than your black coats . . .
At least in the eyes of foreign observers (and
this is significant considering relations with
the Council of Europe) your men of muscle aren't
doing you any favors Mr. President.
Your Minister of Defense delivered votes, but
at what cost to your international image?
And your Prime Minister, well, let us just say
that girth should not be the measure of leadership
ability anymore than swallowing a pill should
prove a man's virility.
"Puppet President" is not a decent
legacy, sir. Don't let it be yours.
Independent Armenia will become a teenager during
your second term. You're a parent; you know those
are difficult years that require patience and
a temperament that is a near-impossible mix of
sternness and tolerance. And the best children
are raised by parents who themselves are willing
to grow during those years.
You have the advantage of leading a people to
whom patriotism is still an honored currency.
I grew up in the US state of Alabama, in a village
about the size of Martuni in your homeland, Karabakh.
The nearest town, similar to your hometown, Stepanakert,
was named for a hero of the War of 1812, Commodore
The first newspaper I read, and probably a reason
I'm still a journalist even though it's a very
long way from here to Decatur, had a paraphrased
quote from the Commodore that it ran everyday
on its masthead:
"My country. May she ever be right, but
right or wrong, my country."
It has been a long time since I agreed with such
blind sentiment. But plenty here have that American
warrior's attitude toward their homeland. You
owe them an honorable President.
When the anger of these days quiets, when Mashtots
is again an avenue of commerce rather than a protest
pipeline, workers will resume putting a new face
on the thawed capital and café life will
replace political rallies.
Life here will go back to normal. You have a
chance to change what "normal" means
for so many caught in abnormal circumstance. Please
earn the respect of those who voted honestly for
you. And for those whose rights were violated
to secure your place, please earn their forgiveness.