Armenia. The mass protests in 2008 against the election
of Serzh Sarkisian as president created continued conflict
in 2009. Seven leading oppositionists were accused of
organizing the demonstrations in Yerevan. In March, a year
after the protests, new mass demonstrations were held,
demanding the release of political prisoners. In June, the
Sarkisian dissolved the commission investigating the
circumstances surrounding the deaths of ten people in police
and demonstrator violence in March 2008. Relatives and
opposition claimed the government wanted to hide the truth.
Prosecutors had identified four police officers as guilty.
Subsequently, an amnesty was issued for a couple of thousand
people sentenced to prison for participating in the protests
against alleged electoral fraud in the presidential
election. Critics said that the amnesty did not include
those who were political prisoners.
The rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey continued
during the year. The countries agreed on a so-called
framework for normalizing relations. However, the difficult
question of Armenia's demand that Turkey recognize the
Turkish genocide of Armenians in 1915 was not resolved. In
April, the nationalist party Dasjnak, with strong support
among Armenians in exile, left the government in protest.
President Sarkisian traveled to France, Lebanon, the Russian
Federation and the United States to seek peaceful and
convincing Armenian exile groups. An important argument for
the government to settle with Turkey was that it would bring
great economic benefits.
In October, the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Turkey
signed an agreement to establish diplomatic relations and
open the common border within two months, when the two
parliaments approved the agreement. A joint commission,
including with international experts, would investigate the
"historical dimension" of the two countries' relations,
which have been bitter since 1915. Armenian press considered
Turkey to have escaped the issue of mass murder, while
insisting that normalization of relations was inevitable.
Members of the Nationalist Party Dasjnak protested the
agreement through a hunger strike.
countryaah, media freedom is further cut during the year, and
journalists are exposed to threats and violence. In April,
the editor-in-chief of Armenia Today was beaten by three men
with bat. In October, a trial was launched against
opposition editor Nikol Pasjinian, who was accused of
organizing the mass protests in 2008. The international
financial crisis hit hard on the country's important mining
industry as prices fell on important export goods such as
copper and gold. Many industrial workers were released and
the gold mining in the south was occasionally silent.