YEREVAN (Yerkir)—The Supreme Council of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation on Tuesday kicked off its month-long protest against the protocols on establishment and development of relations between Armenia and Turkey, with a hunger strike and sit at the Armenian Foreign Ministry and government headquarters.
As 24 ARF members (the number 24 symbolizes April 24) began the hunger strike at the foreign ministry, some 60 members began a sit-in at the government building. Chanting “No Concessions to Turkey!” and “Nalabandian must Resign” the protesters also initiated a petition campaign against the protocols, and will collect signatures from passers by at the high-traffic Republic Square.
ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Armen Rustamian told those gathered outside that the sit-in and the hunger strike would continue until provisions of the protocols are amended.
“These demonstrations are meant to reject the pre-conditions forced on us, and demand that the provisions of the document that jeopardize Armenian interests are reviewed,” Rustamian said. “No matter how hard the government is trying to say that there are no pre-conditions in the document, we believe they serve only Turkish interests. They say the Kars Treaty is not mentioned in the protocols; then why does it say that we have to recognize the current boundaries? These borders are described only in the 1921 Kars Treaty, no other treaty speaks of the borders.”
“We demand that authorities include proposed changes in Protocols. These documents are anti-Armenian and cannot be signed in their current format. We’ll continue the protest and hunger strike unless all our proposals are considered,” echoed ARF parliamentary bloc member Artyusha Shahbazyan said.
ARF Bureau member and parliamentary bloc leader Vahan Hovannesian, said the that the authorities have agreed to this agreement because they did not realize the inherent dangers and did not pay attention to the consequences of their actions.
The Bureau member said that the party has not abandoned its calls for foreign minister Eduard Nalbandian’s resignations, saying that while in Turkey the authorities have undertaken an outreach to political forces on the matter, in Armenia the efforts are the government are not earnest.
“The public at-large is not aware of the full scope of the developments,” said Hovanessian.
ARF’s political affairs director Giro Manoyan said the authorities had not intention of amending the protocols.
“We are not given a chance to present our concerns to the people,” he said. “There are two key provisions that disturb us: the recognition of the borders and the establishment of a commission tasked with addressing historical issues that would enable Turkey to discuss the issue of the Genocide.”