2009-10-27 – DAS Kaidanow Meets With Opposition, Civil Society

by on 2009/10/27  •  In Wikileaks

Viewing cable 09YEREVAN758, DAS KAIDANOW MEETS WITH OPPOSITION, CIVIL SOCIETY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09YEREVAN758 2009-10-27 07:38 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Yerevan
VZCZCXRO0860
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHYE #0758/01 3000738
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 270738Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY YEREVAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9670
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 YEREVAN 000758 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CARC 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL OVIP KDEM TU AM
SUBJECT: DAS KAIDANOW MEETS WITH OPPOSITION, CIVIL SOCIETY 

YEREVAN 00000758  001.2 OF 002 

Classified By: Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch. Reasons 1.4 (b,d). 

SUMMARY 
------- 

1. (C) Turkey-Armenia relations and the recently signed 
Protocols dominated the conversation between EUR DAS Kaidanow 
in her meetings with a former Armenian President and the 
Dashnak Political Party. Former President Levon 
Ter-Petrossian wants more attention paid to the problems of 
democratic freedoms and corruption in Armenia and believes 
that progress in those areas would aid President Sargsian's 
desire for ratification of the Protocols. The Dashnaks see 
the Protocols as fundamentally flawed, believing they 
disadvantage Armenia on the issues of genocide recognition, 
the border with the Turkey, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Civil 
society leaders cautioned against the authorities being given 
a free pass on democracy and human rights by the 
international community in exchange for their focus on 
Turkey-Armenia normalization.  END SUMMARY. 

DISCUSSIONS WITH OPPOSITION AND CIVIL SOCIETY LEADERS 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 

2. (C) EUR DAS Tina Kaidanow met with Armenian opposition 
groups on October 21 to discuss domestic and foreign policies 
of Armenia. She met with former-President Levon 
Ter-Petrossian (LTP), who was President of Armenia from 1991 
to 1998 and now serves as the leader of the Armenian National 
Congress, a coalition of 18 political parties. She then met 
with representatives of the Dashnaktsutiun (Dashnak) Party, 
an Armenian nationalist party founded over 120 years ago and 
whose institutional memory includes both the Armenian 
massacres of 1915 and the short-lived Armenian republic in 
the early 1920s. She raised the issues of the Armenia-Turkey 
Protocols, Nagorno-Karabakh, the state of democracy and 
personal freedoms in Armenia, and corruption in the 
government. 

3. (C) During both meetings, DAS Kaidanow stressed that the 
Armenia-Turkey Protocols are important to the USG and that an 
open border would benefit both countries. The USG will 
continue to support the normalization process with Turkey and 
support an open discussion in both societies on the process. 
It is also important to the USG, Kaidanow noted, to keep the 
dialogue moving forward on Nagorno-Karabakh and for the 
Presidents of Armenian and Turkey to continue to actively 
participate in the Minsk Group process. Both of those issues 
are responsible for Armenia's isolation, which in turn 
adversely affects the economic and democratic development of 
Armenia. 

LTP 
--- 

4. (C) Former-President Levon Ter-Petrossian laid out his 
sense of the four most important issues facing Armenia:  the 
lack of democracy, corruption in the government, 
Armenia-Turkey 
relations, and the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh.  He said he 
understood why the world, and the USG, is focused on the last 
two issues, but insisted the two domestic issues should also 
draw the world's attention.  Ter-Petrossian claimed that the 
USG is not pushing hard enough for democratic freedoms in 
Armenia, including demanding the release of detainees who 
have been in jail since the 2008 postelection unrest.  If the 
USG were interested in democratic reforms, it would provide 
more support to Armenian opposition groups, LTP said.  He 
argued that the national media is closed to the opposition, 
and that if they had access to just one national television 
station, he and the other opposition groups could argue for 
personal freedoms and fight against corruption.  LTP pointed 
out that a more open society would actually benefit the 
current government in ratifying the Protocols, since more 
transparency from President Sargsian would help convince the 
general population of the validity of the rapprochement with 
Turkey. 

5. (C) DAS Kaidanow strongly disagreed with LTP's 
characterization of the USG's acceptance of the lack of 
democratic reform in Armenia.  She noted that the USG has and 
will continue to raise the issues of democracy and personal 
freedoms with the GOAM, including pressing for the release of 
political prisoners.  The U.S. had withheld significant 
Millennium Challenge Corporation funding from Armenia because 
of its failure to meet democratic standards, a step that had 
obviously had impact on the government.  But on those 
subjects and on corruption, she pointed out, Armenian society 
must step up and also demand changes. The USG can provide 
resources, but the Armenians must in the end be responsible. 

YEREVAN 00000758  002.2 OF 002 

DASHNAKS 
-------- 

6. (C) The three representatives of the Dashnak Party (Armen 
Rustamian, Representative of the Dashnaks' Supreme Body; Giro 
Manoyan, Head of the Armenian Cause and Political Affairs 
Office of the Dashnaks' Bureau, and Levon Mrktchian, a member 
of the Dashnaks' Bureau) concentrated their discussion with 
DAS Kaidanow on Armenia-Turkey relations and on what they 
view as the adverse affects of the Protocols. The Dashnaks 
said they looked at the current process through the prism of 
their 120-year history and prior dealings with Turkey.  They 
welcomed the involvement of the USG in the normalization 
process, as they remembered the USG's support for an 
independent Armenia after World War I. The Dashnaks 
maintained they were not opposed to an open border with 
Turkey 
but are opposed to the terms of the Protocols, including the 
creation of an historical sub-commission; the fact that, in 
their view, Armenia will have to accept the current border 
with Turkey; and the notion that Armenia's claims to 
Nagorno-Karabakh are not recognized in the protocols. 
According to the Dashnaks, it would be better to take more 
time to negotiate these elements than to make a decision now 
that could &endanger the nation.8 

7. (C) DAS Kaidanow argued that isolation has harmed 
Armenia's development and reminded the Dashnak 
representatives of how the incursion of Russian troops into 
Georgia last year exacerbated the effects of Armenia's 
isolation.  An isolated society hinders economic development 
and the advance of democracy. She acknowledged that the 
Protocols have conditions that the Dashnaks may find 
objectionable, but that should spur them to an open 
discussion within the Parliamentary framework on those 
points. From the USG perspective, the positive elements of 
the Protocols outweigh the negatives and the process should 
continue to move forward. 

CIVIL SOCIETY LEADERS 
--------------------- 

8. (C) DAS Kaidanow met with three civil society 
representatives to discuss democracy and human rights 
challenges and hear their thoughts on the Armenia-Turkey 
protocols.  Larisa Minasian, Director of the Open Society 
Institute, claimed that there has been a general decline 
across the board on democracy, human rights, the judiciary, 
children's rights, prisons, and the fight against corruption. 
She noted that local NGOs are no longer fighting for policy 
changes, but simply trying to defend the meager progress that 
has been made. Minasian maintained that the international 
community is not presenting a consistent position to the GOAM 
on these issues, citing the fact that after the Millennium 
Challenge Corporation suspended the funds for road 
construction, the World Bank stepped in to finish the roads. 
On the Turkey-Armenia protocols, Isabella Sargsian of the 
Eurasia Partnership Foundation said they raised concerns 
within civil society because of the overall lack of 
transparency in Armenia's political processes.  That said, 
she stated that--based on Eurasia's many cross-border 
projects--both Armenians and Turks are interested in learning 
more about each other. 

9. (C) Boris Navasardian, president of the Yerevan Press 
Club, told DAS Kaidanow that the protocols and the 
improvement of Armenia-Turkey relations are taking precedence 
over the development of democracy and human rights. Armenian 
society is so focused on the relationship with Turkey that is 
easy, he said, for the GOAM to ignore domestic issues. 
Minasian agreed, arguing that the authorities are using 
Turkey to divert people's attention from needed reforms on 
the democracy, human rights, and good governance fronts.  In 
her view, "the pressure on democratic reform is inversely 
proportional to interest in Turkey)Armenia relations."  The 
three agreed that, because of this, the longer the 
ratification process lingered on, the more damaging the 
impact would be to those seeking democratic changes. 
Moreover, they argued, if the protocols do not succeed, then 
popular criticism directed against the government could also 
hurt possible reforms by provoking a government backlash. 
DAS Kaidanow assured the civil society figures that while the 
USG supports the normalization process, it does not see the 
improvement in Armenia-Turkey relations as a substitute for 
democratic development, and promised that the USG will 
continue to push for greater personal freedoms in Armenia. 

10. (U) DAS Kaidanow has cleared on this cable. 
YOVANOVITCH

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