“The resignation was justified”

Thirteen years ago, RA President Levon Ter-Petrosyan resigned and voluntarily handed power over to the party of “war”, declaring that the party of “peace” had been defeated. How adequate was this step to the situation and was it justified? “A1+” sat down to have an interview with former NA Vice-Chairman Karapet Rubinyan who also resigned after Ter-Petrosyan.

“A1+”: Do you consider Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s resignation justified?

Karapet Rubinyan: Frankly, I don’t because I had proposed another version. I had proposed that he disband the parliament and hold new parliamentary elections. At the time, I thought that that would ensure a smoother transition of power. If you recall, in his last speech the President mentioned that the party of “peace” was defeated. However, that is really not so because political parties register their success or defeat during elections and this could be considered a clear evaluation of an individual. Unfortunately, things took another direction and efforts weren’t spared to have change of power as democratic as possible. The outcome of the elections could have been difference. As you see, they didn’t leave any other decision for the people.

“A1+”: The notorious forces, or the President?

K. R.: Of course, they were the notorious forces, but it was possible to impose such a solution on the notorious forces and that could have become a precondition for resignation. What happened was seizure of power. First, behind-the-scenes negotiations helped make Robert Kocharyan the only candidate of those forces, even though other people had been given other promises and were even told that his nomination was excluded. Despite the humiliating defeat, he took the presidency and apparently appropriated power and we see the results today.

“A1+”: Levon Ter-Petrosyan wasn’t participating in the talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution alone. Weren’t the notorious forces, which were the prime minister and the heads of force structures taking responsibility for that issue?

K. R.: I would like to remind that with his article entitled “War or Peace”, Levon Ter-Petrosyan initiated a large debate in society and transferred that debate to the Security Council. The issue was discussed and led to polarization, that is, the formation of forces, the President of Karabakh, the team of commanders of the Defense Army who were against Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s platform. As further developments showed and as Serzh Sargsyan’s approaches show, that was not such a position in principle because now, Serzh Sargsyan unconsciously declares that Aghdam is not Armenia’s homeland and that those regions were simply a security zone taken to ensure peace. However, back then he was sitting around the same table and defending Arkadi Ghukasyan’s draft according to which all territories were declared as an inseparable part of Nagorno-Karabakh. This transformation showed that they were using that contradiction to achieve other goals and, unfortunately, they did.

“A1+”: In his speech, Ter-Petrosyan said time will show who will sell Artsakh. Thirteen years have passed. Has time shown anything?

K. R.: In the formal sense, Artsakh is not sold now either and certain oppositionists can claim that time showed that it wasn’t sold. But that is a matter of evaluation. I think Armenia is selling Artsakh every day because Armenia’s ongoing debilitation, the daily degradation of society and every Armenian leaving the homeland means selling Artsakh, putting the issue of national concern at risk and in this sense, I consider the years of the Kocharyan and Sargsyan administration as lost years and believe that those losses are irreversible.

“A1+”: Today many claim that in 1998, Ter-Petrosyan wasn’t as inacceptable as Robert Kocharyan was in 2003-2004 or Serzh Sargsyan is now. Do you consider change of power through velvet, peaceful road?

K. R.: I consider change of power through a velvet revolution possible. But for that there have to be preconditions and the struggle must be led with a plan for a revolution. That doesn’t exist yet and there has to be a situation where the authorities will no longer put up with their status in Armenia and be forced to resign. That is when we will move on to a new stage.

“A1+”: Is the government so liberal to tolerate the existence of similar “notorious forces” which will force its resignation?

K. R.: This has nothing to do with liberalism. This is characteristic of any dictatorship. There are always cracks because the authorities govern not in the interest of the state, but personal and those kinds of contradictions do emerge.

“A1+”: Was there a dictatorship that caused cracks in 1998?

K. R.: I can’t say it was a complete dictatorship, but as you can see, even in that case cracks emerged.

Interview by Diana Markosyan