GLENDALE–The Southern California Armenian community–along with the faithful from as far away as Fresno–gathered in Glendale–California on January 22 to celebrate the anniversary of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF)–founded in 1890.
Glendale High School’s auditorium was packed with about 2,000 supporters who came to mark the venerable organization’s unwavering commitment and dedication to the Armenian people for more than a hundred years–through thick and thin.
The Homenetmen regional band–along with the scouts of its Ararat chapter–opened the program with the flag ceremony–followed by the performances of the American national anthem by Nanor Hindoyan–and the Armenian and ARF anthems by Nersik Ispiryan.
Honored guests included Western Region Prelate Archbishop Mousegh Mardirossian and Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and former Primate Vatche Hovsepian–representatives of the Armenian Catholic and Evangelical churches–Armenia’s Consul General in the US Gagik Kirakossian–ARF Bureau representative Hrant Margarian–Bureau member Dr. Vicken Hovsepian–as well as representatives of the ADL (Ramgavar party)–AGBU–ARS–Hamazkayin–Homenetmen–and other representatives of various organizations and the media.
Speaking on behalf of the organizing committee–Vasken Madenlian conveyed welcoming remarks and served as the evening’s emcee.
Subsequent speakers included Melanie Vartabedian of the Armenian Youth Federation–Anahit Stepanian of the ARF Central Committee–as well as keynote speaker ARF Bureau representative Hrant Margarian.
Margarian began–noting that for decades on–when commemorating the anniversary of the ARF–these events serve as an opportunity to be accountable to the public.
Addressing current fundamental changes and unfolding of strategic situations throughout the world–Margarian stressed that numerous important political and international advancemen’s were registered during the past year.
"In the case of Armenia–these advancemen’s have come in the social–domestic-political–economic sectors–and in foreign policy; there has also been progress in Armenia-diaspora relations–in the advancement of the Armenian case–pan-Armenian–as well in the development of pan-diasporan community relations."
As far as ARF’s role and activity in carrying out vital social and economic reforms in Armenia–Margarian noted that the ARF’s role as a government coalition partner is not a self-serving one–and stressed that its participation does not imply that the Tashnagtsutiun is fully content with the government’s activities. "Rather–as a coalition partner–the Tashnagtsutiun strives to guarantee that the government works toward maintaining and continuing reform programs. It serves to ensure that the government’s fight against corruption and bribery are more forceful–and that it more effectively pursues the shaping of civil and public sectors–the implementation of democratic ideals–and preservation of national harmony."
In order to effectively tackle the country’s widespread corruption–the ARF–revealed Margarian–urged the Armenian government to join Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). As a result–Armenia became the 37th member–agreeing to adopt a strategic plan of action to stamp out corruption–and indicating its clear-cut political will to integrate European standards into society. Armenia’s membership–he stressed–also presumes legislative commitmen’s–and a multidisciplinary approach to fighting corruption that includes cross-border cooperation between states and international institutions.
In summary–Margarian stated that for the ARF–priority lies in pursuit of issues tied to Armenia’s security. "The ARF cannot win when the people of Armenia and our nation are under threat. During these times–the ARF–when considering its political goals–simply cannot assume the role of a spectator." He said that the ARF will continue to fight–at all cost and available means–to establish democracy in Armenia and in eliminating poverty and corruption.
Margarian also spoke of recent upheavals in the South Caucuses–as well as the effects of foreign intervention and policy on the region–specifically Armenia. He said that the opposition in Armenia–inspired by developmen’s in Georgia–attempted to seize power–creating instability–and threatening not only the situation in Mountainous Karabagh Republic–but also developmen’s and advancemen’s in Armenia.
Margarian stressed that the ARF immediately called for negotiations between the government and the opposition to maintain internal stability. Although the opposition rejected all offers–the efforts and propositions of the ARF nevertheless helped in quelling internal crisis. And as a result of that policy–the party today enjoys a certain political authority–leverage–and respect by the authorities–opposition organizations–political forces–as well as international and diplomatic representatives operating in Armenia–he said.
On Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR)–Margarian emphasized that the commitment of the diaspora to the issue–and the involvement of all Armenia’s are guarantees that our victories there will be preserved and strengthened.
He affirmed ARF’s commitment to its fundamental views in establishing a resolution to the conflict–according to which–and also legally–MKR must be a part of the Republic of Armenia.
On the issue of Javakhk–a majority Armenian populated region of Georgia–Margarian said that Georgia is obliged to practically display its commitment to lifting not only its biased policy in the region–but one that has neglected the economic and basic social needs of the population.
Margarian noted the importance of commemorating the 90th anniversary of the genocide of Armenia’s by Turkey–saying–"Armenia’s must once again convey their condemnation of that act against humanity–stressing to the world that there will never be forgiveness without repentance and just compensation. Only then can there be normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations–and only then can progress be registered."