Citizens of Armenia and Diaspora Armenians SHOULD stand behind the new government and help the reform process — GARBIS KORAJIAN
Posted on July. 4. 2020
On Friday July 3, Appo Jabarian held a TV interview with Garbis Korajian at the AMGA TV studios in Los Angeles/Glendale, USA. USA Armenian Life TV’s guest Garbis Korajian is recognized by several governments around the world for his work as a consultant for the World Bank, Canadian Int’l Development Agency (CIDA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nation Development Agency (UNDP), the Government of China and the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Nagorno-Karabakh; a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in Public Administration specializing in Ethical Leadership. Korajian has built a solid record as an international consultant and trainer on Good Governance, Ethical Leadership, Anti-Corruption Education and Social Accountability. Appo Jabarian is the producer and the TV host of USA Armenian Life TV; Managing Editor And Executive Publisher of print editions of USA Armenian Life Magazine and Armenian-language Hye Kiank Armenian weekly, armenianlife.com, USA Armenian Life Facebook Page, USA Armenian Life weekly electronic newsletter broadcast to nearly quarter million readers via e-blast, serving a combined readership of nearly 700,000 readers and viewers. USA ARMENIAN LIFE: Thank you Mr. Korajian for joining our viewers today. GARBIS KORAJIAN: I’d like to thank you, Mr. Jabarian, and USA Armenian Life for having me. INTRODUCTION OF THE TOPIC OF DISCUSSION BY APPO JABARIAN: In the last 30 years, since independence, Armenia had 3 Presidents and 1 Prime Minister From 1991 to 2018 Armenia was governed by a presidential administration where the bulk of executive powers were given to succeeding presidents. The 1st Pres. Levon Ter-Petrosyan served from 1991-1998 He came to power right after the independence.
Armenia was recovering from the 1988 Spitak and Gumri Earthquake And was facing economic shock after the fall of the Soviet Union. Factories were unjustly closed and the country faced economic hardship, registering high rate of unemployment. The factories that were illegally dismantled, were sold as scrap metal to Iran. Ter-Petrosyan was implicated in corruption over the wholesale of scrap metal to Iran. Armenia fought the Artsakh Nagorno Karabakh Liberation War from 1988-1994 and won. As Armenians were ready to liberate Nakhitchevan from Azerbaijan, reportedly Ter-Petrosyan sabotaged those efforts. In 1998 Ter-Petrosyan crossed the red line when he publicly expressed willingness to make territorial concessions to Azerbaijani Republic that had just lost the ward against Armenia. In response to strong popular demands, then Defense Minister Vasgen Sargsyan forced Ter-Petrosyan to reisgn. Acting Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan was elected the 2nd President of Armenia. The 2nd Pres. Robert Kocharyan Served from 1998 to 2008 Pres. Kocharyan Ruled Armenia with an Iron feast. He was responsible in the murder of 10 peaceful citizens, demonstrating in Yerevan. Under Kocharyan, oligarchic system which was created under Pres. Ter-Petrosyan continued to flourish. The 3rd Pres. Serj Sargsyan Served from 2008 to 2018 The second and third presidents came to power through electoral fraud, vote rigging and intimidation. Sargsyan replaced Kocharyan and ruled the country complete terror. He formed a 25,000 Police Force. They used brute force to quell peaceful demonstrations Under Pres. Sargsyan, Corruption, nepotism and mismanagement continued to flourish in Armenia. In 2018, in order to emulate Russia’s Pres. Putin, he promoted changing of the Constitution transfering executive powers to the Prime Minister’s office and his Republican Party of Armenia parliamentary majority elected him as the PM helping Pres. Sargsyan perpetuate his staying in power. A week after being elected as Prime Minister, Sargsyan resigned under pressure from citizens and tacit support of wide circles in Diaspora. USA ARMENIAN LIFE: What factors contributed to bringing change in Armenia and the importance of Armenia moving forward?
GARBIS KORAJIAN: Change was brought to Armenia because of the citizen dissatisfaction of its ruthless leaders, electoral fraud, the state of corruption in every sector of government, unfair distribution of wealth, high levels of unemployment, injustice of the judiciary, denial of human rights, the inability to speak up and convey their grievances through street demonstrations. The killing of 10 peaceful citizens on March 1, 2008, and the continuous beating and arresting of peaceful citizens by the 25,000 strong police force that was put in place to preserve the presidency of Serj Sargsyan. Due to hopelessness and the inability to earn a living wage, over 1 million Armenian left their beloved home and migrated to foreign countries. The ones who have stayed behind struggle to make a living wage while 40% of the population lives under poverty. In the face of the poverty, unemployment and out migration of its citizens, the leaders and the oligarch lived excessively well and illegally enriched themselves. Such reckless kleptocrat leaders were the cause of public unrest and the eventual removal of Sargsyan’s government. Kleptocracy defined, is a government with corrupt leaders that use their power to exploit the people and natural resources of their own territory in order to extend their personal wealth and political powers.
Unfortunately, the former leaders failed to see suffering of its people and the changes that were taking place in the minds and hearts in its citizens. As the political awareness of the population matured to a higher level, especially among the youth who were born after 1991, they demanded change. Citizens organized themselves and in May of 2018, ousted Serj Sargsyan from office. Therefore, the Velvet Revolution that was created and organized by Nikol Pashinyan now occupies a center stage in Armenian politics. In 2019, Nikol Pashinyan and leader of the Velvet Revolution, a person who has never been implicated in corruption or the embezzlement of his country”S assets, was elected Prime Minster with a 70% of the popular vote. Since his election, he has appointed capable and young ministers in his government and has introduced several reforms. He has also appointed a new police chief and replaced many former generals in the Armenian Army. However, since assuming power, Pashinyan’s government has faced challenges to implement the desired reform. However difficult and time consuming it is the reform must continue for Armenia to survive as nation. USA ARMENIAN LIFE: Many Armenians in Armenia and Diaspora are asking, Why the Justice system of the first two years of Pashinyan administration, has been brought to justice not a single oligarch? WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO MAINTAIN THE CURRENT MOMENTUM? GARBIS KORAJIAN: To successfully implement meaningful reforms in Armenia the constitution has to be changed. A change of the Armenian Constitution will provide the government the needed tools it needs to mitigate corruption, bring corrupt former leaders, the oligarchs, heads of criminal organizations to justice, and see that the present reforms are successful as it is vital for Armenia to move forward in establishing a fair and just society, a country that equally serves the interest of all its citizens. The constitution was changed from a Presidential system to Parliamentary system in early 2018, similar to Putin’s. In spite of promising not to participate in the election, Serj Sargsyan broke his promise and became Armenia’s Prime Minster. One week after Sargsyan assumed power, he was forced to resign, bowing down to public pressure and the successful outcome of the Velvet Revolution, spearheaded by Pashinyan. After Serj Sargsyan’s resignation, Pashinyan became the Prime Minster. Therefore, as the constitution was put in place for Sargsyan to stay in power, it favors the oligarchy and puts limitations in judiciary and other reform, therefore it should and must be changed.
Unfortunately, since Pashinyan assumed power, he has faced many difficulties in implementing meaningful reform. His hands have been tied as a result of the constitution. Removing corrupt officials, prosecuting former high ranking officials, their families and friends, who have become excessively rich while in office, has become almost impossible. · Citizens of Armenia and Diaspora Armenians have to stand behind the new government and help the reform process. As we know, in the past, many of the International Armenian Organizations in the diaspora have supported the former Oligarchs. They have to come to their senses, stop supporting the former corrupt leaders and participate in the country’s reform. USA ARMENIAN LIFE: Reportedly, Karekin II, Western Diocese primate Hovnan Derderian, Moscow’s Arch. Yezras Nesisyan who is Karekin II’s bloodbrother have secretly formed an international cartel that has been integrated with state level-kleptocracy fostering religious kleptocracy. On April 14 Karekin II tried to use the Kocharyan card to cover up his wrongdoings. In the same token, business tycoon Gagik Tsarukyan is now using the government resignation demand card in order to perpetuate his own status as an untouchable. What are your thoughts?
GARBIS KORAJIAN: During the last 20 years, Karekin II and his cartel including Western Diocese primate Hovnan Derderian, Moscow’s Arch. Yezras Nersisyan, France Armenian Diocese primate Bishop Vahan Hovhannisyan, Bishop Serovbe Isakhanyan have worked closely in cooperation with Robert Kocharyan and Serj Sargsyan. In fact, it is often said that Karekin II was involved in the assassination of our political leaders that took place in the Armenian Parliament on October of 1999. The same day of the assassination of the leadership in Parliament, Karekin II became the Patriarch of all Armenians. In his 20 years’ tenure as Ghatoghigos, he has ruled our church with an iron fist and has become excessively rich. Not only he has become excessively rich, he never took sides or try to mediate when peaceful citizens of the country were being beaten, arrested and killed by Armenian Police. Based on his criminal behavior, there is a growing movement in and out of Armenia demanding his resignation. In order to mask his crimes and divert attention directed to him, on April 14, 2020, he came to the rescue of his old corrupt friend the second president of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan. Unfortunately, 2 weeks ago, Robert Kocharyan was released from prison after his family posted a two-million-dollar bond. As for Tsaroukyan, after he lost his immunity, he appeared in court to hear the charges laid on him for evading taxes and defrauding government. Soon after his court appearance, he was released at a later date pending further investigation. As you can see, it is extremely difficult to convict these wealthy and powerful people as they have unlimited resources and friends in higher places. Anyhow, as it stands, Gagig Tsarukyan has joined forces with Serj Sargsyan, former National Security Service NSS chief Arthur Vanetsyan, and the ARF to form a new party. The main goal of this organization is not necessarily to assume power, but to stay out of prison. In new developments, we also observed the forced retirement of the three constitutional judges who have aided and assisted the former corrupt leaders of the country. USA ARMENIAN LIFE: At least three or more illicit acts are reportedly perpetrated by each of the various members of the “Karekin II-Hovnan” cartel. Here’s a list: · Money Laundry; · Tax evasion; · Fraud; · Forgery; · Monetary theft; · Drug Trafficking; · Abuse of the Faithful; · Elderly Abuse; · Physical violence; · Bullying; · Character assassination; · Murder; · Rape of women; · Child molestation; · Kidnapping of infant babies and illegal child trade · Sexual slavery and trade · Illicit sexual activities by celibate priests and religious leaders · By-Laws violations by Derderian, Karekin II, Yezras of Moscow and proxies at Holy See, various dioceses, parishes, in Armenia and Diaspora. What are your thoughts? GARBIS KORAJIAN: These are serious crimes perpetrated by Karekin II-Hovnan Derderian Cartel. Without exception, all thee wrongdoers must be held accountable. USA ARMENIAN LIFE: Is the old regime’s return to power something to consider or it’s totally out of the question? GARBIS KORAJIAN: Although the old regime will NEVER come back to power, they will fight tooth and nail to avoid going to prison. USA ARMENIAN LIFE: Is Russia and the West happy about Armenia’s progress, or we shouldn’t worry about Eastern orientation or Western orientation, we should simply consolidate the position of Armenian orientation? GARBIS KORAJIAN: Armenia has to develop and nurture a strategy of maintaining a balanced, Non-Aligned policy between the West and the Russia. Given the fact that over 3,000,000 Million Armenians live in Russia (more Armenians live in Russia than Armenia Proper,) 1,500,000 million in the United States and another million in European Union Block and South America), Armenia has to maintain a balanced relationship both with the West and the Eastern Bloc by establishing the policy of the Non-Aligned Movement. USA ARMENIAN LIFE: What is Non-Aligned policy? GARBIS KORAJIAN: The Non-Aligned Movement was founded by Jawaharlal Nehru, Joseph Tito, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kwame Nkruma and Sukarto of Indonisia. The objective of this movement was the refusal to align their countries with any bloc or alliance, particularly those led by the United States or the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This policy advocated mutual respect for each other’s Sovereignty, Non-aggression, Non-intervention in each country’s domestic and foreign policy. Due to India’s Non-Aligned policy, India, to this day, has a maintained a very good relationship with the United States and Russia. Speaking of Russia, we have to take into consideration that Armenia was part of the Soviet Union Block from 1921-1991, a union that existed for over 50 years. Based on this fact and the proximity of Russia, Armenia has to maintain close relationship with Russia and has to be seen as an independent country. USA ARMENIAN LIFE: How does Ukraine’s Orange Revolution differ from the Velvet Revolution of Armenia? GARBIS KORAJIAN: The Orange Revolution of the Ukraine rejected Russia’s influence on their country and removed President Victor Yanukovych from office for having strong ties with Russia and replaced him with a pro-Western president. It was very violent. Thousands of peaceful citizens were hurt and 70 killed. Armenia’s Velvet Revolution did not target Russian’s sphere of influence, rather, it was a peaceful movement that demanded justice and the equal treatment of its citizens including the removal Serj Sargsyan from office. Ukraine’s Revolution was anti-Russian in nature, while Armenia’s Velvet Revolution was never anti-Russian. Therefore, it is vital for Russia to understand this reality and refrain from helping the former corrupt leaders. Russia should also look at the reforms in Armenia, consider it as an internal matter and not an antagonistic movement towards the Republic of Russia. As for the West including the United States, these countries should understand Armenia’s need for internal reform in order to establish a democratic state. Taking example from Angela Meckel and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, the European Union has to focus on assisting the current reforms in Armenia. Should the time come, Armenia will also consider joining the European Union. As for our relationship with other important countries like China and India, we also need to build good relationships with them. Based on the economic and social models, cooperating with these countries will make Armenia a strong nation. To give an example, the President of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian has recently invited 50 high level businessmen from China for an economic conference that will take place in Yerevan in October of 2020. USA ARMENIAN LIFE: Where do Armenia and Armenian diaspora go from here? GARBIS KORAJIAN: Armenia is in a state of transition. It needs the support of its citizens and the diaspora. It has to also nurture good relationships with all friendly countries and focus on the present reform. It has to attract foreign direct investment to make Armenia a hub for computer and other scientific technologies, encourage tourism and open factories to provide employment to its citizens. The diaspora Armenians, therefore, have to take an active role in the development of their homeland.