April 9, 2008 is the day for the inauguration of Armenia’s next disputed president – Serzh Sargsyan. Armenia’s government has raised eyebrows by deciding to hold an unprecedented military parade in capital Yerevan’s Liberty Square on that day – with the apparent attempt to occupy a popular staging area for protests. The recent protests – that ended with the deadly clashes of March 1 followed by a 20-day state of emergency – had also started in the Liberty Square. So had Armenia’s call for independence from the Soviet Union – both for Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh).

April, as I have quoted a famous writer before, is the cruelest month of the year. We have to be careful for April 9. It seems that Armenia’s national church – the Armenian Apostolic Church – realizes that. They are having a memorial service on April 9 in all Armenian churches for the eight people who died on March 1, 2008. April 9th is the 40th day of the deaths – memorial that Armenians almost always mourn. The Apostolic Church is apparently trying to help avoid any further blood. And if this tactic works in the short run, it won’t work in the long run.

Many, including this blog, have argued that opposition and authority are not different in Armenia. They all want power. They all want to be in charge and oppress their opponents. It is time to move forward from this argument for the time and look into solutions. The fact is that many in Armenia are not as mad at the authorities as at the Public TV – which serves to the pleasure of the authorities often to a disgusting degree.

Here is my proposal – which has to be implemented before April 9, 2008. So the authorities have two days.

  • Armenia’s Public TV (H1) must offer airtime twice a day, effective April 10, to the de facto banned A1Plus TV station. The Public TV cannot review the content of the News provided by A1Plus Tv. Indeed, it seems that A1Plus TV shares my view that if there was free media in Armenia March 1 might have been avoided. After (and if) A1PlusTv gets back on the air, such programing on H1 shouldn’t continue
  • Armenia should cancel the military parade in the Liberty Square
  • Since the Liberty Square is a public park, the permit for protests and gatherings should be limited to 4 hours to any organizations or the government – with a first come first get basis
  • The board of directors for the Public TV should consist of seven publicly elected individuals: two have to be opposition members (elected by the people); two appointed by the government, one has to be a currently enrolled student between the ages of 18-25 voted for by the people, two can be any other citizens – not politicians or government or opposition employees – voted for by the people. This office should be limited to two years with maximum of three lifetime terms.  The first election should be set up for April 21
  • Armenia’s government must free all arrested opposition activists on April 24 – the day that Armenians commemorate the Genocide

This proposal itself is a short term (for the next 2 years) solution. But it must be done now.