50 Global Armenians: Arthur Martirosyan - Mediamax.am


50 Global Armenians: Arthur Martirosyan

Today, Mediamax launches a special project - "50 Global Armenians”. Every week, we are going to introduce one "Global Armenian”.

Arthur Martirosyan
Arthur Martirosyan

Today, Mediamax launches a special project - “50 Global Armenians”. Every week, we are going to introduce one “Global Armenian”.


What do we mean by saying a “Global Armenian”? These are Armenian people who were born in Armenia or in former USSR, who live abroad, succeeded in their career but are not known to the wider public. Our goal is to present “human stories”, to tell not only about their business achievements but also about their everyday life and families.


The general partner of the project is the Yerevan Brandy Factory, whose “ArArAt” trademark  is positioned a global Armenian.


Arthur Martirosyan was born in Tbilisi in 1963 to a family of an English language teacher and an aviation engineer. He lives in Boston. Arthur is an expert in negotiations; he is a senior consultant at CM&Partners company.


Arthur has three children. His elder daughter is 27 years old. She studied in Yerevan, attended an Armenian school, graduated from University in the USA, got married. He also has twins, a boy and a girl, who are 16years old.


In 1983, I entered the Translation Department of Philology Faculty of Leningrad State University. It was hard to enter that faculty. I passed my exams without anybody’s help, that’s why I entered the University not at once but after serving military service in the Soviet Army.


Arthur Martirosyan in kindergarten in Tbilisi


Arthur’s parents moved to Yerevan from Tbilisi in 1988 and have lived here since then. After graduating from the University, be began to think what to do next. He worked 6 months in Eton, England, and then returned to his parents, already to Armenia.


I lived only six months in Armenia and left the former USSR in 1991. While at high school in Tbilisi, I dreamed of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations - MGIMO. I dreamed of becoming a diplomat, but our family had no chance to get recommendations from Communist Party bodies. At that time, I found out that I could apply for U.S. universities. I had to take my exams in Moscow, so I especially went to the Institute of Steal and Alloys to take GRE and TOEFL exams. I applied to 6 universities and entered 5 of them. Yale University’s international relations program attracted me most of all.


Arthur Martirosyan- school graduate

Yale faxed Arthur’s official papers to … the Yerevan Office of the Armenian Assembly of America - it was the only fax number in Yerevan which the Americans had found. It was 1991, the Soviet Union still existed.


Yale University fully paid for my education. Moreover, I even received some money which was enough to pay for my room and food. The best experts on conflict management and transition societies such as Robert Dahl, Juan Linz, Bruce Russet and others were among my professors. These people are world stars.


Arthur Martirosyan was the first Armenian student to study at Yale University. He thought he was leaving for the United States only to receive an education and return. But fate decreed otherwise.


Arthur Martirosyan- graduate of International Relations Department, Yale University


At Harvard, I was offered to work as a consultant with the focus on the post-Soviet space. There were 25 people for one place. I went through several interviews. Finally, there were three of us left - me and two Americans, Harvard graduates, experts in Sovietology, who later made a good career. Finally  they chose me, and it was a great success, as I began to work with one of the founders of Harvard negotiation methodology, the “Guru” of the negotiation process, Roger Fischer. I have worked for almost 12 years with him on conflicts in Georgia, Balkans and Middle East. It was an incredible school. Looking back, I realize that I have received a unique opportunity for my professional  growth.


Arthur Martirosyan- captain of the football team of International Relations Department, Yale University


Arthur’s University friends from Saint Petersburg offered him a job in Russia too. He admits that if he had agreed then, he would have been a rich man today. But he doesn’t regret for his choice. It was more interesting, for example, to help the Palestinians and Israelis conduct negotiations.


We proceeded from the fact that the parties should speak the same negotiation “language”. There was no need to persuade the Israelis for a long time: 20 people from Israel come to study at Harvard Kennedy School every year. They get the basic tools and knowledge on negotiation methodology. There were only a few Palestinians who later founded the so-called negotiation support group, which works directly with the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat.


Arthur Martirosyan with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators


He gives them assignments, they prepare materials for him. This is a staff which processes the technical aspects of issues: Jerusalem, territorial issues, refugees, water resources, and so on. The Palestinians need to learn the methodology of conducting negotiations more than the Israelis. The Palestinian side was accustomed to speak the language of trade. Theoretically, the Israelis have themselves taught them to do so, exchanging one corporal for 1000 prisoners. The development of a single negotiation “language” - is not a conflict resolution but a necessary condition to achieve this goal.


Arthur Martirosyan, of course, follows the Karabakh peace talks. According to him, in case of Nagorno Karabakh, the problem deepens also by the fact that one of the sides - Azerbaijan, proceeds from the fact that the problem can be solved not through negotiations.


We see that they get armed and can try to resolve the problem in a military way. In the negotiation language it means a zero-sum game. They speak of some wide autonomy, but at the same time they are preparing for war. They are interested in control over territories, and we are interested in people’s right for living on the land of their ancestors. In fact, the issue is resolved for us - people of Artsakh have self-determined themselves. The force and the economic component seem to be on their side. But these are only illusions. Everything changes, the benefits of declared figures are translated otherwise on the battlefield. It’s not the language they should speak with Armenians. In fact, we are satisfied with the status-quo, because it is better than what they offer to us at the negotiation table, and the Azeri side is not satisfied with either the status-quo or what is offered at negotiations. There is only one way out of this deadlock: “negotiation jujitsu”, i.e. we have to persuade the Azeris that there is no alternative to negotiations. The war and Armenia’s isolation are groundless and futile. This is why our strategic long-term goal is to create a competitive economy and an efficient army. Only this way can we bring the Azerbaijani side to the negotiation table to seek solutions for another question: how to live further in the same region?


When we were talking with Arthur (in late January), he was going to another trip to Kiev. His objective was to help representatives of the U.S. Cisco Corporation and the Ukrainian side find a common language. Then he was going to Moscow to work in the business college for middle and senior managers and with Moscow Mayor’s Office.


Arthur Martirosyan with Russian and Chechen negotiators in Hague


I have a good combination of international and corporate projects. Corporate projects, of course, “feed” more, as payment for work on international projects is much lower. Though my colleagues, who have a very solid corporate portfolio, strive to work more on international projects. Just imagine, when working with corporate clients in USA the expert may not simply refer to the history of negotiations with Israelis and Palestinians, but bring a first-hand experience of working with them. It immediately brings a lot of benefits in winning the audience.


I ask Arthur: is it easier for a negotiation expert to solve his everyday problems than for people who don’t have this knowledge? For example, will it be easier for him than for me to persuade a bank clerk to issue a loan?


It’s easier for me because I prepare systematically for these negotiations and I know what I am going to do in case I fail to come to terms with him. Roger Fischer introduced an abbreviation - BATNA (Best Alternative to the Negotiated Agreement). It’s surely easier for me because I have the relevant experience. Sometimes you are determined to get this everyday negotiation experience. Two years ago, I was in the  huge “Midhat Pasha Souq” market in Damascus. The shop owners are sitting on the first floor waiting for the visitors without inviting them. Suddenly a man, whose shop was on the second floor, came to me. He was a “hunter”. He was walking and looking for people to bring them to his Damascus Shawl shop. He knew very well that he had one shortcoming as compared to other salesmen - the second floor. And realizing it, he negotiated very skillfully. Bargaining is also an art of negotiations. It’s very interesting to watch it.


Arthur Martirosyan with family at his daughter’s wedding in 2009


It’s much harder to negotiate in the family. I am trying to teach the methodology to my children. Sometimes they ask me to explain why I say “no”. On the other hand, when children are in their teens, you have to find  more flexible ways to communicate with them. Most often I succeed in doing it. Though I cannot say I always get such a result when I say “no” and it does not cause resentment. The method works better when people understand that relations bear long-term character, whereas manipulative measures only  undermine confidence.

Arthur Martirosyan is concerned about one problem which he often comes across throughout the post-Soviet space. It is the conflict between the long-term and short-term interests.


Very often the choice is made in favor of short-term interests at the expense of long-term ones. I see it very often. In 1990s and in early 2000s, everything was under the sign of long-term interests. Today, the situation is changing. It is also connected with the crisis in the system of values. The more we prefer long-term interests, the more chances we have to build a competitive state. In the modern world, competition often assumes not only rivalry, competition but also cooperation, and many large world companies gradually come to this viewpoint. And this, in turn, requires skills for negotiating on interests, which allows to preserve relations and improve the results at the negotiation table. Studies carried out by British Hatveit Group show that companies from Forbes-2000 list, which have systematic competence in conducting negotiations, received on average 40% more profits during the crisis, whereas companies that didn’t have relevant competence lost up to 63% of net income.


Boston Globe article tells about Arthur Martirosyan’s work in Iraq in 2009


Is it possible that Arthur Martirosyan will ever come to Armenia and live here?


I have built  my career quickly enough. Now I am well known in the circles of professional negotiators. They call me, offer, and sometimes I can afford to reject the particular proposal. I have recently received a proposal to work in Kashmir. Today, when we have Skype, my location is not that important - people can find you in any part of the world and offer a job anywhere in the world.


Armenian Participants of Momentum program with Senator Ted Kennedy


My children study in the USA and it’s very important for me, and it keeps me from moving to Armenia. I am trying to engage in projects related to Armenia, because the transference of negotiation knowledge is important for our country. I partially succeed in doing it, as there are several dozens of people in Armenia who also studied basic principles of negotiations in Boston within the Momentum program and some of them become trainers themselves. I would like to believe that there will come a moment when I can live and work between Yerevan and Boston. I travel a lot and I myself choose the projects, this is my job. This is perhaps the most professional achievement: to do what you love to and have a possibility to choose.


Ara Tadevosyan


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