In Defense of a Hero of Armenia: Step back before stepping up to crucify Postanjyan

Frankly stated: Armenia National Assembly Deputy Zaruhi Postanjyan’s got balls.

She represents the sort of fresh, youthful leadership that Armenia needs more of. Instead she has become a target for short-sighted “patriots” who still imagine that Armenia is the powerhouse of their distant ancestors’ day, rather than the poorhouse it is in contemporary regional and international debate.

While on diplomatic duty at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) last weekend, Postanjyan introduced a document calling on the CE to re-think its position on the cleanup of the post-03/01/08 mess that has hung over Armenia like summertime pollution in the capital.

In getting her proposal to the floor (where it was defeated), Postanjyan secured the signatures of the Azeri and the Turkish delegation in support of her resolution that, among other things, called for the release of ALL “political prisoners” held in connection with 03/01.

Since returning from Strasbourg, the first-term MP and representative of the opposition Heritage Party, has been called a traitor, has been chastised by colleagues for her “lack of experience” and, we suspect, has likely been mocked by chauvinists as an example of what happens when you “send a woman to do a man’s job”. (A local rag referred to her as “a political whore”.)

What a sorry reflection the controversy has been on the political community and the general public of Armenia, whose out-lash toward Postanjyan has only enforced perceptions of Armenia as an insecure tribal-oriented sufferer of victimization syndrome.

Criticism of Postanjyan (including comments by readers of ArmeniaNow) has insinuated or stated bluntly that, by engaging the support of a Turk and an Azeri the deputy betrayed Armenian blood spilled in Karabakh. Blinded by tri-color, such misplaced nationalism dismisses the considerable fact that Karabakh war veterans would have been among those released, had Postanjyan’s draft been realized. A Turk, and an Azeri voted in favor of releasing wrongly-held Armenian “warriors” (though we suspect they did not consider what their support implied). What other representative of this Armenia has achieved such a coup?

The deputy should have come home to praise rather than castigation. Regrettably, however, her nay saying counterparts in Parliament have forgotten what it is like (if they ever knew) to perform their duties for reasons other than self interests or political preservation. Instead, they pander to the sort of myopic hysteria that Postanjyan’s performance has elicited.

For sake of relevance, let us consider what else happened in Armenian diplomacy during this time frame . . .

President Serzh Sargsyan awarded Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili the Order of Honor, the highest honor a non-Armenian can receive.

The honored Saakashvili dictates anti-Armenian policy over 100,000 Armenians who are subjected to ethnic discrimination in the Georgian region of Javakhk. The same Saakashvili has favored Azerbaijan in regional matters, largely due to his enmity toward Russia.

Has anybody called Sargsyan a traitor for cozying up to the Georgian? Like Postanjyan, Sargsyan’s in his first term, too. Might such an arguable mis-step be seen as “inexperience”?

Let us agree that, at 37, Postanjyan is young for state duty. For sake of argument let’s stipulate that she made a youthful mistake. Like, perhaps, the mistake the faculty of Yerevan State University made when it bestowed upon Saakashvili a Gold Medal and Honorary Doctorate during his visit? Need we mention that President Sargsyan serves as president of the Board of Trustees at YSU?

Also this week . . .

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Baku, where he implied that he supports a course of action regarding settling the Karabakh Problem that assures “territorial integrity”. In other words: Let the Armenians give back whatever they won, then things will be fine.

Serzh Sargsyan has sucked up to Moscow like a Hoover to a dustball. Does that make him a “traitor”? No, it makes him a cagey politician who understands who holds the power when neither he nor his nation does.

Why should Zaruhi Postanjyan be judged any differently?

On grounds of political principle, Postanjyan was right because IN PRINCIPLE it is wrong to hold political prisoners, and getting Turkish and Azeri politicians to support that point means they’d also have to support that point at home. Democrats uphold human rights; demagogues don’t.