Monday, 29 January 2007

May 12, 2007 - fixed as the date for Armenian National Assambley (Parliament) elections

Yes, today Robert Kocharyan set the day by his decree, and as expected May 12, 2007 was set as the Parliamentary Elections date. I have already made the corresponding adjustment at the Wikipedia (Via Armenpress).

It is interesting, that only this morning someone commented on my blog asking for the date of the parliamentary elections - someone with highly developed "future prediciton" skills I assume :)

Anyways, no need to stress once again how important these elections are, and for those of you who haven't taken time to investigate the scene here are some very useful posts by Onnik Krikoryan and a series of articles from ArmeniaNow.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

PACE Resolution "Whip and Carrot Policy" for Armenia with "Carrots" prevailing

The whip today was the speech by Anthony Godfrey, U.S. Charge d'Affaires in Armenia (via Armenpress) who "warned today in Yerevan that his government would revise the decision to allocate a hefty $236 million in extra aid to Armenia if its authorities fail to hold free and just parliamentary elections, slated for May" once again, as we have been hearing several times already during the last couple of months.

And while the resolution adopted January 23 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe literally reiterates the same thought (via“The Assembly expects Armenia to demonstrate its capacity to hold the parliamentary elections in 2007 and the presidential elections in 2008 in accordance with international standards, not least with regard to pluralist, impartial media coverage of the election campaign,” we clearly saw more "carrots" in the PACE resolution then "whips" this time.

Indeed phrases like this one: “While acknowledging the progress made by Armenia towards compliance with its obligations and commitments, in particular since the adoption of the constitutional reform, the Assembly today decided to pursue its monitoring procedure until the current or proposed reforms in the fields of electoral law, the media and the justice system have produced tangible results,” are quite positive, and even the speach by the Head of «Justice» bloc Stepan Demirchyan stating that "although Armenia is reforming its Constitution, it is not enough: people must respect the Constitution and the Laws", as well as important reminders about the fact that "Armenia has not yet honored some of the commitments put forward by the PACE resolutions, particularly, independent TV Company «A1+» is still out of air" didn't change much of the overly positive attitude of the deputies. A potentially interesting point of view (although quite hostile as you might assume) on the issue can be found in the coverage of the APA: Azeri-Press Information Agency: as they quote Member of the Azerbaijani delegation Rafael Huseynov saying “The time, content and process of the discussions were organized so that it more resembled the meeting of Armenian parliament. No one from the Azerbaijani delegation was given the floor."

So what is going on? Is Armenia really progressing, and I, in my blind fury and dislike of authorities refuse to see it - or are the PACE just trying to be mild to Armenia for whatever reasons of their own. And then again, another matter to be speculated on is - do high level politicians at PACE think that they have ANY influence over the situation in Armenia, or are they just trying to be nice to what they see as "going" authorities and prefer not to spoil relations in the times very hard for Europe, as the issues of Energy Security and relations with rising Russia dominate the European agenda at all levels?

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Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Will Armenians Ever Vote for Political Ideas or Will It Always Be for Empty Heads and Full Pockets?

January saw an incredible amount of political announcements in Armenia - all and every party in Armenia stating their views on the possibility of forming a coalition or getting on alone as they prepare to run for the Parliamentary elections in May 2007. Some of the parties do state rather firm views, like United Labor Party (MAK) of G. Arsenyan stating earlier that they will definitely run separately, while ARF saying in a firm but fishy way that "The ARF will take an independent part in the elections, but cooperation with the opposition is not ruled out"(22 January 2007, ARKA - News) and opposition grouping and regrouping at a blazing speed almost on a daily basis. Now the problem with all this political dance-about is - nobody is talking of concrete political ideas and programs. And this is becoming a most overwhelming issue when we look at the newly emerged superparty - the "Prosperous Armenia" - the party which has over 300,000 members subscribed to its hideous model of "potato democracy". This is roughly 20% of the voting age population, and is 3 times bigger membership then the Communist Party of Armenia had in its best days during the Socialist era.

In the meanwhile an RFE/RL had an earlier report on the evening program of 14th January, 2007 about the study conducted by the Armenian Sociological Association, in which it detailed on the fact that 58% of Armenia's population is not satisfied with the overall political course of the country, but in the same time the majority of the 1200 questioned thought, that the country is making a solid progress as far as the economy is concerned (the assumption that the economy is in a good shape is only partly true considering the the export/import dynamics and overall economic developments, and is rather a product of dollar's devaluation and aggressive pro-government propaganda on all Armenian TV Media). At any rate, the study found, that the voters are prioritizing the issues of job creation, increase of pensions and social benefits, while defining the problems of conducting free and fare elections and the solution of the Kharabakh conflict as secondary objectives for the political agenda.

Much later, on January 22nd, the President of the abovementioned Armenian Sociological Association, Gevork Pogossyan, told ArmInfo (22 January 2007, ARMINFO News) that although "60% of Armenia's electorate today has a traditionally oppositional mood and this tendency has been remaining within the last 10 years", amazingly enough at least for me "the "Prosperous Armenia" party and the Republican party have the highest rating in the political field of Armenia. Then the ARF "Dashnaktsutiun" party comes, while the rating of oppositional parties is lower". And although the respectable scientist does not seem surprised at such contradictions in the moods of the Armenian public and explains it all by saying that "the phenomenon of the "Prosperous Armenia" can be compared with the "Orinats Yerkir" party's phenomenon in 2003 elections, when this party had presented new persons, new slogans and fresh ideas" I find such an explanation unsatisfactory - because populist as the "Orinats Yerkir" were - they at least had something resembling a program to present, whereas "Prosperous Armenia" is only in the politics via a widespread distribution of potato seeds, plastic ropes and vague promises, that its leader Gaguik Tsarukyan will continue helping its voters and sharing his immense wealth (mostly gained by tax evasion and other means of ripping off the mentioned voters) after his party is elected to the parliament.

This however, doesn't mean that the Armenian voter is regressing or that it is becoming less and less politically literate, but rather, that people are essentially deprived of political alternatives and choice, so they are turning to non-political alternatives. And this is what troubles me most - for one day the single practices of voting for populist calls and full pockets may turn from a bad habit into a firm tradition. (A1+ has more on the issue)

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Monday, 22 January 2007

"My only weapon was my sincerity." Hrant Dink

Hrant Dink murdered - by the Turkish state! Not by the ultra-nationalist youth Ogun Samast, 17 years old who doesn't know any better, but the Turkish State, for this murder is only the culmination of processes long built up by the state machine. Despite the restarted propoganda wars on the internet I still belive in the Turkish people. No people can be classified as "bad", "fascist", or one with "poisonous blood", or "race of murderers" - it is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE. The Turkish people, thousands of them went on streets saying: “We are all Hrant Dink…We are all Armenian..” in an amazing act of solidarity to Hrant Dink, Armenian, their follow citizen. We must be stong now and not give way to provocation. I believe that is also the point made by Harmic at the Blogrel:
Whilst this is a tragedy, and a great, great loss. I wonder if there are some people who may seek to use this event as both publicity for the Armenian Genocide ( lets face it, it has been on major news screens today) , and also a chance to insult Turkey. I worry that statements like that of Tigran Torosyan do nothing but agitate an already tense situation. It is naieve to consider that the assassination of Hrant Dink should make Turkey not “even dream” of European Union entry. It is also a bad reflection on the Armenian official position - and I am waiting to hear a comment that suggests this is some kind of Armenian perpertration. It is really time for our Armenian politicians to think carefully about the way they react to this murder.
Now let us listen to Dink’s Last Words that I came across with via Blogian.
...They bombarded me with insults on their placards. The threats reaching hundreds that kept hailing for months through phones, e-mail and letters kept increasing each time.

My only weapon was my sincerity.

...have to confess that I had more than lost my trust in the concept of “Law” and the “System of Justice” in Turkey .

The judiciary does not protect the rights of the citizen, but instead the State.

The judiciary is not there for the citizen, but under the control of the State.

As a matter of fact I was absolutely sure that even though it was stated that the decision in my case was reached “in the name of the Turkish nation,” it was a decision clearly not made “on behalf of the Turkish nation” but rather “on behalf of the Turkish state.”

The diary and memory of my computer are filled with angry, threatening lines sent by citizens from this particular sector. (Let me note here at this juncture that even though one of these letters was sent from [the neighboring city of] Bursa and that I had found it rather disturbing because of the proximity of the danger it represented and [therefore] turned the threatening letter over to the Şişli prosecutor’s office, I have not been able to get a result until this day.)

How real or unreal are these threats?

To be honest, it is of course impossible for me to know for sure.
What it truly threatening and unbearable for me is the psychological torture I personally place myself in. “Now what are these people thinking about me?” is the question that really bugs me.
It is unfortunate that I am now better known than I once was and I feel much more the people throwing me that glance of “Oh, look, isn’t he that Armenian guy?”...


Saturday, 20 January 2007

Hrant Dink was killed in Istanbul just before he was entering the AGOS newpaper building in Sisli area, today, 19th January 2007

Hrant Dink"Our dearest friend , our brother , the editor in chief of AGOS newspaper Hrant Dink has been assasinated ruthlessly. There are no words to explain our pain. Our deepest condolences for those who can still feel themselves as human beings.

AGOS Members

I learned with pain today the shocking news of the murder of Hrant Dink, journalist, editor of Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos:

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - Journalist Hrant Dink, one of the most prominent voices of Turkey’s shrinking Armenian community, was killed by a gunman Friday at the entrance to his newspaper’s offices, police said. Hrant Dink, a 53-year-old Turkish citizen of Armenian descent, had gone on trial numerous times for speaking out about the mass killings of Armenians by Turks at the beginning of the 20th century. He had also received threats from nationalists, who viewed him as a traitor.

Armenians all over the world mourn, as Amnesty International Condemns Murder of Hrant Dink

"This horrifying assassination silences one of Turkey's bravest human rights defenders," said Maureen Greenwood-Basken, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) advocacy director for Europe and Central Asia. "Writers put their lives on the line when they cover human rights violations, as the cases of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and now Hrant Dink, brutally illustrate.

"But legitimate debate about ideas must be protected. The Turkish government must redouble its efforts to protect human rights defenders and open its political climate to a range of views. Recent legal reforms have brought many areas of Turkish law in line with international human rights standards, but existing limitations on free speech such as Article 301 must be repealed.

Other News Sources: BBC: Turkish-Armenian writer shot dead ArmeniaNow: Hrant Dink Murdered: Turkish-Armenian journalist shot dead in Istanbul A1plus: “DISGUSTING CRIME” ; OSCE APPALLED BY MURDER OF HRANT DINK iArarat: Armenian Journalist Hrant Dink Murdered in Turkey Oneworld Multimedia: Hrant Dink Shot Dead in Istanbul


Thursday, 18 January 2007

Parliamentary Elections 2007 - Another Web Resource

Found a very useful website: Parliamentary Elections 2007.
“Parliamentary Elections 2007” is an initiative to implement public control over the election process, which was formed in participation of interested political parties, NGOs, other institutions of civil society and citizens. The initiative is open to all interested parties, who share the aims and subjects of the initiative and are ready to participate in solving these issues.
The site is run by the “Country of Laws” party, “European Democratic Movement”, “Institute of Democracy and European Integration” NGOs and “Iravunk” newspaper in the framework of civil initiative “For legitimate Elections”. As the resource is run by highly "oppositional" forces (although I have certain reservations about the "Country of Laws") I don't expect the site to be a highly professional or objective resource for covering the Elections 2007, but rather as an alternative viewpoint, which, along with initiatives like the - Decision 2007 and Onnik Krikoryan's 2007 Parliamentary Election Monitor should be able to balance the highly polarized Armenian media landscape, at least as regards the resources containing primarily English language content.

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...why would A1plus do it?

The article published by A1plus today was entitled: "Even Ethnic Minorities Won't Believe in Fair Elections". Much as I respect and sympathise with my friends from A1plus, I think this policy of continuously speaking of expected forgery of elections and depriving the potential voter of any hope and motivation to vote is dramatically wrong. Moreover, I think, that the only party who’d be interested in instilling such attitudes among the voting age citizens of Armenia (regardless of their ethnicity) are the pro-governmental forces.

I have covered the issue of pre-electoral morals at Blogrel some time ago, and I want to stress again, that unless A1plus and a number of other pro-opposition media are explicitly working in favor of Serge-Tsarukyan tandem (which they're not), they should quit this type of coverage and try to analyze a little more about social processes going on in the country from a "vague possibility of positive change" persepctive. We have been discussing this issue at the Blogrel in "Armenian Media Shape Up for the Election Battle" and Onnik Krikoryan's post called "Self Sustainability & the Independent Media", and as I've said previously, and want to stress again: this is all a problem of professionalism in the Armenian media, who don't seem to take enough time to analyze the Armenian social landscape carefully, acting impulsively and doing more harm then good. At any rate - the perspectives look good gloomy with Armenia Ranking Very Low on the Global Integrity Index. The clock is ticking, and we can only be sure after May 2007.

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2006 Global Integrity Report Investigates and Assesses Anti-Corruption Mechanisms in 43 Countries, including the United States

2006 Global Integrity Report proved rather intersting. The report which places Armenia among the very week rating countries comes just a day after Armenia occupied a surprizingly high 32nd Place in World Rating of Economic Freedoms. Not to go into details about why I find the letter result so surprizingly high I'll just link to Onnik Krikoryan's post, where the matter is discussed at length.

As Armenia heads into the elections of May 2007, and in the context where absence of any ethical standards in government, inefficiency of the laws and practices designed to combat corruption and prevent abuses of power in the country prevail, the report by the Global Integrity undoubtedly provides information of wide public interest to Armenia.

The country uniformly ranks among countries with week and very week indicators as can be seen in the following indexes. And this time it's not the discredited Armenian opposition speaking, but rather the results of a major investigative report releasedby Global Integrity, an international nonprofit organization that tracks governance and corruption trends around the world.

“The mixing of money and politics continues to be a recipe for corruption in countries both rich and poor,” said Managing Director, Nathaniel Heller. “And yet, some nations have shown that, even with limited resources, political will and strong leadership can prove effective in addressing governance challenges.”

The Global Integrity report includes research and reporting from the following countries: Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, Montenegro, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, the United States, Vietnam, the West Bank, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

To access the 2006 Global Integrity Report, please visit the website at

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Saturday, 13 January 2007

Armenian Media Shape Up for The Election Battle

"Some things never change in this world" - the advanced internet user of today might think looking at the website of some major Armenian media outlets, like that of AZG daily Armenpress, Arminfo, and a number of others. Many of these guys have been going with the same interface for AGES (3 or more years). I mean - come on! In this world of rapidly changing internet technologies you don't do that!

But - there IS JUSTICE on this earth! Or there is A1plus;; and Yerkir Media for those who're loosing patience and hope. Yes - there is justice, and there is XML/RSS which the mentioned four sites happily provide the user (Yerkir Media's pretty cool - they've actually been putting online most of their news video content - now that's cool!). Moreover - A1plus have done their third redesign over the period of last 3 years, Panorama and Yerkir Media only recently did the second revamp - which considering their short period of existence (1,5 years for Panorama, and about 6-7 months for the Yerkir Media far as I can remember) implies serious investments. As to the - they are simply the first to adapt any new technology. Now - please observe - that I'm only discussing new web site designs (sometimes shifting from bad to worse as the case of Yerkir Media might be) and new technologies here. As for the content and quality of content feel free to join the discussion thread at Oneworld Multimedia.

One thing that nicely surprised me was the International Public Radio of Armenia and the new interface of called Among other things Iravunk have completely ruined their old design which was pretty good, the Second Armenian TV and Shant TV have introduced more ore less regular news postings starting from the end of December 2006. Armenia TV have something on TV that they call News - and starting this January they have introduced something that they call News to their website too. They have only posted January 11th news so far - so I guess that was a test launch or something.

What I'm hinting at is the fact, that all of a sudden many of the major Armenian media who seemed to live quite happily without ever remembering about things like Internet, and most of the pretty regular old ones are doing redesigns and introducing new features to their websites. I have vague suspicions, that it is all somehow related to the upcoming parliamentary elections. No? You don't think so? OK - tell me about it in the comments section :)

I know my little analysis is rather incomplete and biased, as is the list of Armenian Media Bookmarks I check fairly regularly and have uploaded to my blogs sidebar for everybody to use.

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Friday, 12 January 2007

200 different situations

The world is made of 200 different situations, and if you do something here, doesn't necessarily apply to everywhere else. This is what The Rt Hon Lord Hurd of Westwell CH CBE PC told us today in his speech on "Britain and the World". This comment was while answering to the questions: why the invasion in Iraq wasn't followed by an invasion in North Korea, and on what will the Kosovo precedent mean for the Nagorno-Karabakh, Sth. Ossetian, Abkhazian, etc. conflicts (the second question asked by me naturally :)).

Now the Rt Hon Lord Hurd of Westwell CH CBE PC really knows what he's talking about: he is the bearer of more titles then my poor mind can handle. For example Rt Hon.: (abbreviated "The Right Honourable The Rt Hon." or "The Right Hon.") is an honorific prefix which is traditionally applied to certain people in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, other Commonwealth Realms, and elsewhere. Read more in the Wikipedia. Couldn't find what CH means, CBE stands for the Commandor of British Empire and PC - I'm sorry, but I don't know that one either.

At any rate he was the Minster of State in the Foreign Office and the Home Office, served as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1984-1985, Home Secretary from 1985-1989 and Foreign Secretary from 1989-1995. Now I'm all so excited about these titles and dates of service to prove to you - that I'm busy here talking to important people! But more importantly - Lord Hurd is a man who has seen the Nagorno-Kharabakh and Kosovo problems in their most violent stages. Seen it from the perspective of top level British Foreign Policy!!! That's as high as it gets - doesn't it? And he's saying - THE WORLD IS MADE OF 200 DIFFERENT SITUATIONS!

There's some bloody good justification for the world powers not to do anything when mass killings, displacements of people occur and whole nations are exiled from their homelands. You see the big difference in the Iraq and North Korea is - Iraq HAS OIL! Isn't that what you mean by different situation Lord Hurd? And liekwise - Azerbaijan HAS OIL and the BP in there - isn't that how the Nagorno-Karabkh situation is different from that of Kosovo my dear Rt Hon leaders of British Politics?

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Thursday, 11 January 2007

Issues in Democracy...

Had a round of introductions today on issues in Democracy for the whole group. As we had 12 presenters, the presentation had to be done in 5 minutes max, and had to include our vision of Democracy in the UK and Democracy Problems in our countries. Really really tight - isn't it? I had to choose carefully what to say and how to convey a more or less general picture. As we didn't really have time to prepare the little impromptu speech I made was rather one sided, still, I guess I ought to publish it here - for public shame and comments...


Issues in Democracy

While UK, at least for myself, appears as the fore-post of democracy in the world, Armenia in line with a number of other former Soviet States, has become one of the labs where the huge Russian experiment on developing a form of Contained Democracy - a democratic imitation is undertaken.

Although lapses exist in various aspects of the Armenian legislation (constitution, electoral code, media regulation, freedom of information, freedom of meetings and gatherings), overall the Constitution and the Judicial System in the country are rather advanced - at least on paper. As I come to compare it with the UK which doesn't even have a constitution and US - where no direct electoral right is practiced for the Presidential elecitons, I can assure everyone here, that it's not the legislation that's causing the problems, but rather the unwillingness of the authorities to fully and effectively practice those laws and legislative preconditions to the benefit of democratic development in the country and in the inability of the people of Armenia to claim their constitutional rights and hold the authorities accountable. One of the biggest problems is that of good governence and the rule of law: laws are practiced selectively, or not practiced at all if such practice would mean limitations or enhanced accountability and transparency in the work of the authorities. On the surface elections, legislation seem to be satisfactory - but the reality is: the Armenian people are essentially deprived of their right to practice direct voting as a means for changing the government and thus having any influence on formulating the political agenda in the country.

A firm control over the major media outlets in the country, exploitation of administrative resources during the elections to guarantee favourable results for the incumbent government have become an increasingly threatening trait of the Armenian democracy - democratic immitation.

The existence of the powerful Armenian Diaspora abroad doesn't help much either. On the contrary, the desire of the Diaspora to protect "their country" and show it from the more favourable perspective in the eyes of the leading world powers: US, France, etc. contributes to the problems of democracy back home.

I don't have a solution to these problems, NOBODY DOES!

The Armenian people can't count on the assistance of the international community for ensuring their electoral rights and their rights to participate in the governing of their own country. The Armenian people can only count on themselves, and I come here with the hope to see how is it that the people of the UK are able to so effectively govern their country - even without a "proper" Constitution!!!

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Wednesday, 10 January 2007

The ABC tour of Birmingham

ABC tour stands for: Another Bloody Church tour – and I’m really glad I went on that tour of Birmingham. I thought it is the specifics of just Armenian tourism industry to overkill tourists with the endless row of churches.

Still, the tour guide was really good! Not like most of the Armenian guides I’ve seen. I mean – the guy really knew everything he was doing, saying. He was capturing the attention, playing with us – the tourists, a brilliant sense of humour with a spice of his own saying every other minute: “Ugh! Those Englishmen!!!.” I guess until we train a generation tour-guides like that guy – our tourism won’t stand a chance…

One of the fun observations he made – was the differentiation between the tourists and visitors. Visitors pretend they’re interested – tourists don’t :) …so I tried to play the visitor part, but kept taking a bunch of photos in between, which – considering my dark hair and heavily Armenian face (i.e. rather close to Arabic) was potentially not a very smart thing to do. So – even the winter season, rain and rather unpleasant wind didn’t spoil the walking tour lasting about 3 hours… the tour was really interesting – although, now as I come to think of it – we didn’t see anything really worth spending 3 hours of tourist attention on. Still – it was presented so well – that I would readily go on another tour of Birmingham!

Armenian tourism industry – LEARN, LEARN, LEARN!!!

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

The Confused Europeans

There are 3 confused Europeans in our group in the What Democracy Means course at Birmingham University, UK. There's a Serbian guy - boasting a great degree of humor and good knowledge of laws and wines, a very good natured Turkish guy, and myself - the Asian-Armenian European Wanna-be...

The Serbian guy coined the term - and it fit in well with the three of us perfectly. We just seem to have a lot of things in common, although - God knows, if we get started on differences we could compile a never ending list. Still, of representatives from over 30 countries we seem to be the most confused folks. Some how the discussion on Caucasus: European, Asian, or What? seemed to fit in pretty well. The Serbian guys seems to have the least problems of all - at least as regards basic geography: Serbia's definately in the right spot, but then - the EU don't seam particularly eager to take them on, do they?

We all know what's Turkey going through these days as the moods on EU-Turkey talks pass through various stages of downs and down-belows. I personally think, that if the Baltic countries could make it into the EU, Turkey definitely should, but that's a whole other issue to explore, so I'll stop here, and refrain from commenting on my subjective views of where Armenia belongs.

Oh, almost forgot to mention!!! We had to make a toast to our Rumanian friend: there's a guy who definitely knows where he belongs - for one whole week now, as Romania has been officially EU since January 1st, 2007. Yeah, I'm jealous...

Anyway - while the confusion's going on here in the UK, I'll try my best to behave European - whatever that means... needless to say, that any advice from visitors of this blog on what being European means will be greatly appreciated.

Monday, 8 January 2007

The Land of the Scared People

Two keys, access code for the main entrance, access code for the residential wing, access code for the kitchen and access code for the main reception room... that makes it a total of 6 security measures for me to claim full control of my living space in the Birminghem University, UK. Man - this is the country of scared people... why else would you lock so many doors in one building???

The section in our briefing booklet about life in the UK starts with the words - UK is a safe country... and I belive it. I've been here twice before, and always felt, that I - the Armenian/Caucasian coming from the land of social extreems, poverty, war - am the one and only scary living thing in the next mile or two around. But when the booklette goes on and on about how important it is to look after your personal safety, make sure everything's locked at all times, not walk alone in the dark, etc... you start thinking - why all this worry?

Life of a single man has no meaning - in Armenia and in many other underdeveloped countries like ours. It is a hard life - which a lot of people might be willing to give up quite easily. I, for my age of 29 years am a tired man - tired from working endless hours, never making enough money to get to that dream of having my own house, car and the dog lying in front of the TV. Its not much to ask - but at times even that much seams like an unreachable dream. So, may I suggest the theory, that the more developed the country - in the UK/US sence of development, when a reasonalbe proportion of the economic benefits are distributed among the middle class people, the higher the concern for personal safety. When talking about value of human life, I am especially referring to the importance people attach to their own life and their own future. And this is where the truth comes out: when you do care for your life and your future, you should start caring more about your country, its government, its policies...

...and my mind goes back to the Parliamentary elections to be held in Armenia in May 2007. What do we expect of the Armenian voter - the tired and frustrated citizen, who doesn't really care neither about his life, nor about the future lives of the coming generations?

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Mission Possible

This is not my first trip abroad, so packing was easy. Yessir! This is my third trip to UK - so packing was really easy... yeah... took me 4 days, and I'm still not done! I can't believe it! After years of traveling all around Europe and US I still haven't learned to pack properly and fast!

The problem is I am too much of a planner. I draw a list of things to take, estimate their approximate weight, start drawing a model of what will fit where in my bag... I even tried making a scheme in Illustrator :( Oh! How I envy people who put off everything until the last moment, and then jam into the bags whatever fits in and on they go...

So, anyway - I'm going to the UK, you guessed that one right. I'm happy too - 'cause winter in Armenia is not exactly pleasant as my fellow blogger Onnik describes so well in his first Letter from Armenia. I feel a bit guilty when I think of all the people that will be staying in this.... well - WINTER.

I feel double guilty as the most controversial elections in the history of Armenia, as I've described in my post at Blogrel, are coming near... feels like running away from the most decisive battle... but then again, even with all my optimism I can't help but feel, that these elections are going nowhere, just like the ones in 2003 and 2005. All I can do to give me peace of mind is - ascribe all these negative emotions to the late hour and despair over my inability to pack in strict accordance with the self-established packing regulations developed especially by myself to torture the same old myself.

The taxi's ordered for 6 o'clock in the morning - and I'm more then happy to be able to claim, that when it comes to taxi services, UK has a long way to go to compete with the Armenian taxi service availability and unbeatable price with their super-expensive Black Cabs and never punctual mini-cabs. The trip to the airport from the center of Yerevan will only cost me 2000 AMD - that's like - 2.7 UK Pounds!!! And the Black Cab from London Hethrow to the Center of London - can cost an average Armenian salary - 60 or more pounds... been there, done that...

Oh yes, I understand that UK drivers have to cope with higher standards of living, etc... but I sort of like our cheap Armenian taxis better all the same. So, I'm outta here... see ya all in Birmingham, UK!!!