Levon Ter-Petrosyan

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Levon A. Ter-Petrossian
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Became President: October 16, 1991
Resigned: February, 1998
Predecessor: None, first holder of post
Successor: Robert Kocharian
Date of Birth: January, 1945
Place of Birth: Aleppo, Syria

Levon A. Ter-Petrossian (born January 9 1945 in Aleppo, Syria) was the President of Armenia from 1991 to 1998. His country defeated Azerbaijan in a costly war over Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominately ethnically Armenian territory that had been given to Azerbaijan by the Soviet Union. However, because of many economic and political problems, he resigned on February 3, 1998 and was succeeded by Robert Kocharian.

Levon Ter-Petrossian born in Syria. He emigrated to Armenia in 1946.

In 1968, Ter-Petrossian graduated from the Oriental Studies Department of the Yerevan State University. In 1971, he completed his postgraduate studies at the Leningrad Oriental Studies Institute. In 1972, he completed his masters thesis. In 1987, he received his doctoral degree. In 1972-1978, Ter-Petrossian worked as junior researcher at the Literature Institute of Armenia named after Manouk Abeghian. In 1978-1985, he held the post of science secretary at Matenadaran named after Saint Mesrob Mashdots. Since 1985, Ter-Petrossian has been working at Matenadaran as a senior researcher.

He is the author of more than 70 scientific publications in Armenian, Russian and French. He is also a member of the Armenian Writers' Union, the French Asian Society, the Venice Mkhitarian Academy and an Honorary Doctor of La Verne University.

Ter-Petrossian's political career started in the 1960s. In February 1988, he led Matenadaran's "Karabakh" committee. In May of the same year, he became involved with the Armenian Committee of the Karabakh movement. From December 10, 1988, to May 31, 1989, he was under arrest together with other members of the "Karabakh" committee.

In 1989, Ter-Petrossian was elected Member of the Board of the Armenian National Movement. Later on, he became the Chairman of the Board.

On August 27, 1989, he was elected as deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR. He was re-elected as deputy on May 20, 1990. On August 4 of the same year, he became Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Armenia.

Ter-Petrosyan was elected the first President of the newly-independent Republic of Armenia on October 16, 1991 and re-elected on September 22, 1996. His popularity waned during his rule, as he sold Armenian electrical capacity to Georgia while limiting electricity’s availability to Armenia to four hours per day in order to fund the war against Azerbaijan — a move regarded as necessary by the Armenian Army. He was also unpopular with many because he banned the nation's leading opposition party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF- Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiune), jailed its leadership, and shut down Yerkir, the country's largest daily newspaper.

He was forced to step down in February 1998 after advocating additional concessions to Azerbaijan in the resolution of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Ter-Petrossian's key ministers, led by then-Prime Minister Robert Kocharian, refused to accept a peace plan for Karabakh put forward by international mediators in September 1997. The plan, accepted by Ter-Petrossian and Azerbaijan, called for a "phased" settlement of the conflict which would postpone an agreement on Karabakh's status, the main stumbling block. That agreement was to accompany the return of most Armenian-controlled Azerbaijani territories around Karabakh and the lifting of the Azerbaijani and Turkish blockades of Armenia.

Since his resignation, Ter-Petrossian has rarely appeared in public and has studiously avoided contact with the media, although there was speculation that he would run for president of Armenia in the last general election in February 2003.

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