Garnik Isagulyan

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Presidential adviser expects no "apricot revolution" in Armenia

Ayots Ashkar, Yerevan 2 Dec 04

There will be no "apricot revolution" in Armenia, as there is no real alternative to the incumbent authorities, the president's security adviser has said. Garnik Isagulyan said that the former ruling party, the Armenian Pan-National Movement, was the real opposition and was gradually trying to move out of the shadows. "The tragedy of the APNM is that it does not have a leader accepted by the people," Isagulyan said, adding that society did not support the APNM's Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Armenia's former president. The following is the text of Vahan Vardanyan's interview with Isagulyan published in Armenian newspaper Ayots Ashkar on 2 December and headlined "There will be no revolution"; subheadings inserted editorially:

An interview with the Armenian president's adviser on security issues, Garnik Isagulyan.

[Ayots Ashkar correspondent] The opposition thinks that the Karabakh issue will soon become a centre of confrontation. Do you agree with this view?

[Garnik Isagulyan] Armenia is multipolar and multilayered in its foreign policy. We do not have the objective of being an appendage of one superpower against another and it is senseless to search for external signals of a power change. As for the Karabakh issue, the policy of today's authorities cannot be seen as anything but positive by any Armenian who worries about the national interests.

Victory of "orange revolution" would divide Ukraine

[Correspondent] Mr Isagulyan, against the background of the events taking place in Ukraine views are expressed in Armenia that Yerevan will be the next refuge of the "orange revolution". How possible is this?

[Isagulyan] Indeed, it seems to become a tradition immediately to compare the processes of any post-Soviet country with Armenia. That happened in the case of the Georgian "rose revolution", now it is happening with Ukraine. The Ukrainian events showed that the fight is not in the name of democracy, but between the superpowers and, because of these actions, the country is divided into two parts. Incidentally, the majority of the country's industry, the entire coastline with ports, that is 80 per cent of the economy, is centred in the southeastern regions that have a pro-Russian orientation and where millions of Russians live. For this reason the victory of the "orange revolution" in Ukraine will at best lead to the gradual separation of the country and at worst to civil war, which we should not be happy about or use as a model.

Armenian authorities and people not at loggerheads

[Correspondent] Nevertheless against this background the opposition has stepped up its activity to a certain degree in Armenia.

[Isagulyan] We saw them step up their activity more seriously in the 2003 elections as well as in the first part of this year. We also know the slogans on which the opposition tried to base the need for a power change and they failed. This does not mean that there are no problems in the country, the authorities are trying to resolve them gradually. Simply in its turn the opposition did not put forward an alternative programme. On the other hand, Armenia is a monoethnic country. Unlike Ukraine and Georgia, power at the top and the state structures are strong enough. And finally, there is no urgent problem over which the authorities and the public are taking opposing positions.

Ter-Petrosyan not accepted by public

[Correspondent] The fact that [ex-President] Levon Ter-Petrosyan broke his long silence is viewed as an external, western signal. By the way, he mentioned in his interview that the stage-by-stage option for a Karabakh settlement, put forward in 1997, was the best and that in future we will not gain anything more.

[Isagulyan] It would be surprising if the former president said anything different, because that would mean abandoning his positions expressed in the well-known "War or Peace" article. As for the option of 1997, it foresaw the unconditional capitulation of the liberated territories to Azerbaijan without specification of Karabakh's status. It was clear from different statements of the president that they expected to leave Karabakh within Azerbaijan. Let nobody dispute that we can reach this worst scenario at any moment and without Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Today if we suggest the same to Azerbaijan, they will agree with pleasure. Who will not agree without any effort to get what he lost forever? I see no trend in the former president's interview. His meetings with the political elite of different countries do not at all mean that the West foresees any action to return him to politics.

[Correspondent] In that case how do you explain the trend of the opposition stepping up its activity? Maybe with the help of new slogans, new ideas and a new composition they hope that the people will follow them.

[Isagulyan] I have mentioned many times that in Armenia the Armenian Pan-National Movement [APNM] is the real opposition, it rules all the other developments from the shadows. Today the APNM is trying to leave the shadows gradually, as it sees no other force that can take the flag of the opposition. Simply the tragedy of the APNM is that it does not have a leader accepted by the people. On the whole it has nobody except Ter-Petrosyan. Our society's attitude towards Ter-Petrosyan is known. Nobody has forgotten the cold and dark years.

No "apricot revolution" in Armenia

One of the leaders of the opposition said once that, as the apricot is the most Armenian fruit, our revolution will be the "apricot revolution". I think that there is no ground for an "apricot revolution", as there is no real alternative to the present authorities that has a programme, the people's trust and has not been already compromised.