Yerevan (Yerkir)-The Armenian Revolutionary Federation 30th World Congress convened in Armenia Wednesday, during which ARF Bureau Chairman Hrant Markarian addressed the attendees gathered at Armenia’s Government building. Below are excerpts from Markarian’s speech.
In many ways, each ARF World Congress is a turning point.
We evaluate the past four years meticulously, and are extremely critical; and through a deep commitment with outline our future endeavors.
The 30th World Congress comes at the right time. We have experienced two national elections. The presidential elections is still very much part of our lives.
Whether we like it or not, this World Congress is being influenced by the results and the ensuing events of that election. The Republic of Armenia and our role in it are the key issues of this World Congress. So, it is crucial to objectively analyze the road we have traveled.
Following the Parliamentary Elections we were filled with conviction. We were satisfied, not as much with the results, but for the positive pre-election campaign. We were able to present clear objectives and as a result gather a large number of supporters. The public also saw the ARF in a different light. They understood our approaches and were echoing them in public. It was also important that after May, with the positive elections, we were anticipating stable progress for our county.
We participated in the Presidential Elections with our own party candidate. We took part in the process, without discounting the possibility of victory; however, for us the important aspect was being a part of it. Although, we stood by the country’s authorities from 1998 to 2008 and took part in its progress, especially in the greatly important matter of developing a national philosophy, nevertheless, we had voiced our dissatisfaction on a number of issues. We disagreed with the economic policies; we were discontent that there was no clear policy to fight corruption in the country; we found the conduct of certain criminal, semi-criminal elemen’s within our society unacceptable. We believed that all of these factors were driving the country toward authoritarianism or a crisis. Thus, we entered the arena as a true alternative, with a program that meticulously assessed the situation and proved solutions. We were an alternative both to the opposition and to the authorities. Let’s face it: the current and previous regimes, as well as the rowdy opposition forces could not be differentiated from one another on these issues.
We entered the arena, in order that through our campaign, our political message and our assessmen’s to politicize and organize the people.
We were certain that our participation would contribute to democratization of our country and the conduct of fair elections. With the presidential campaign we were putting end to our previous agreement with the authorities, in order to create a new beginning.
Many believe that we would have been in a better position in the presidential election if we had refused to join the ruling coalition after the May election. We were being realistic. In our view, the period between the parliamentary and presidential elections was too short and we could not make decisive changes. We attempted to form new election blocs and we made definitive suggestions.
I will not shy away from confessing that we did not succeed in the presidential election-we failed.
The new realities that emerged from the parliamentary election gave us hope that the presidential election too would be held in a civilized environment, that the elections would take place not "against" someone and not among the deaf and the blind. But that was not the case.
In the Republic of Armenia, the last four presidential elections have been held in a tense environment. Let’s remember the 1996, 1998, 2003, 2008 election. In two cases-1996 and 2008-there were bloody clashes. Is it a coincidence that in both elections the main player was the same person, in the first instance as the government, in the second as an opposition. Is it a coincidence? You decide.
However, it is the reality, that all these elections have taken place in a polarized environment.
The social situation, injustice, corruption, impunity of the elites, illegal monopolies, nepotism, obstacles for private entrepreneurship and human rights violations have resulted in emergence of severe public opposition.
The man whose rule is remembered with hatred came to the arena after ten years of silence. His policies were rejected in our country. Knowing this well, he hid behind the discontent that existed in the country. It turned out that he had not come to engage in a program or ideological struggle. The situation became tense every day, and the election atmosphere became polarized. The election now was not between the candidates but between the current and former authorities. Those who were scared by the former regime were voting for the current ones and those unhappy with the current regime were voting for the former one.
For the first time in the recent history, we were entering the race with our own candidate, and we have to credit our candidate for his posturing, behavior and courage. Good job, Unger Vahan.
We managed to demonstrate that we are our own party and that our cooperation and competition did not affect the principle essence of the ARF. We were an alternative with our platform, our national vision and our moral concepts. Many asked: why did the ARF entered the coalition after criticizing the current authorities? What happened in the country [in the wake of the election] was an attempt at a color revolution. Under our noses there was formed an organized mechanism or, as they like to say, a network similar to [the ones created in] other states: Georgia, Serbia, Ukraine. It was formed with foreign orders and funding.
We are not an anti-force and will not be one in future. We are not anti-American, anti-British or anti-Russian but we know how to regard our sovereignty and dignity above everything else. We have a national issue, the Karabakh liberation movement. Why then do international organizations, NGOs, foundations and so-called institutes use so much human resources and funds to install a government or attempt a regime change in this country or weaken the authorities of this country?
The network was formed by the foreign power. The opposition presidential candidate [Ter-Petrosian] was placed and dressed on the network.
The so-called colored revolution failed. Their candidate had more votes against him than for him. But he did not just rely on peaceful means. His program was not over and when he did not receive the expected votes on election day he placed his hopes on the "Yerkrapahs," and the army, and every day in Liberty Square he would use the generals’ names in vein. Why did he remember the Generals? What was he going to use them for? What did a person who had begun a constitutional fight want from the Army or other armed groups?
When all that failed, he resorted to asking foreign forces to intervene. And then the tragic and shameful events of March 1 happened. March 1 was not in the interest of the country, the people or the authorities. It was beneficial only for [Ter-Petrosian] and unfortunately his wish was granted.
The authorities were not ready for March 1; the opposition was. The confrontation was in the interest of foreign forces only and the person who does not like his country or people. The clashes paved the way for the involvement of foreign forces and weakened our country. The weakness of the state questions the sovereignty and security and confidence in the international arena. We could not sit and do nothing in this confrontation. We, as well as many others, sensed the danger during the election campaign and we did our best to prevent this. We attempted to shape public opinion. But our calls did not reach their goal.
Two opposing poles were created. On the one hand was this type of opposition that spoke about democracy, human rights and freedoms, pretending to be victimized, but always relying-and continues to do so-on foreign influences.
[The opposition’s] political aim wasn’t to attain leadership, but rather to rid itself of the Karabakh issue. We all know, however, that any movement against Karabakh is a movement against our national interests. We all know that we are all one nation and until the struggle continues, we are all from Karabakh, Javakhk and Nakhichevan. Artificial separations lead us to divisions.
We remember the days when dozens of newspapers were banned, when a party was banned, when politicians were behind bars and not on squares and when corruption, impunity, injustice were widespread, just as the are today. As hard as we try to hide the Armenian National Movement, change the name, we see the ANM rear its ugly head.
The winning side was the other pole. It did not win the election fairly but neither we, nor the international community disputed the results. The current authorities are successors of the ones who have been in power for the past ten years. But we should not consider them as completely identical to the old regime. It was clear that the government was under huge pressure internationally. The outside pressure has increased today. They have set up a structure-a network-inside the country to seize the "fortress" from within. We had no choice in this situation. We had to stand by our state. We had to show that we can solve our problems on our own. And we signed a political agreement with the president-elect. Our presence in the coalition is understandable as long as the threat exists. But the endurance of the coalition is a condition for clear objectives, and we will evaluate the results on a regular basis. There are positive steps and there are expectations and hope.
The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly has put forward demands for our country, and many are happy. But the truth is that before Resolution 1609, the coalition parties had assumed the same goals. Why are they not glad about the coalition agreement that we will implement regardless of Europe? Also, what the coalition has agreed to accomplish is in line with the ARF’s goals and principles. What were we supposed to do? Some think we shouldn’t have not jointed the ruling coalition and instead become opposition. Is this a responsible political position? No, and no again.
I would also like to speak about some other issues. I would like to address the Lebanese Armenia’s who are now facing a difficult security situation. We are standing by you, we share your concerns.
Javakhk’s struggle for autonomy in Georgia is stalled. Our delicacy to this issue has met the international community’s and Georgia’s silence wall. We need to re-ignite our struggle. It is necessary that Armenia use its international capacities in this issue.
As for Karabakh, we believe in talks for settling the conflict. But we also see it crucial to demand that the international community first ensures a guaranteed peace. Otherwise, Azerbaijani threats and western sponsorship threatens our positions. To talk when there is a guarantee for security.*
Comrade Marukhian, after Armenia’s independence, would not use the word Diaspora. He would say abroad. Everything should be done to integrate the sections of our nation into one nation. The ARF is a national party and is the only organization that was able to unite our nation in the absence of statehood. We have long been a political factor abroad and our fight there is for Armenia and Armenia’s, for their security, prosperity, and national demands. Let’s praise everybody who has worked hard for the international recognition of the Armenian genocide, whether or not they are a member of the ARF.
Our position is right, our struggle is successful. The Turkish-Azerbaijani reaction, their efforts to counter us using all their capacities, comes to prove this. But taking into account their activities, we have to reorganize our agenda.
The recent events show that our country is an open playing field for foreigners. The expansion and strengthening of our organization is an issue of national security. Our country’s continued independence, and sovereignty are only possible with a powerful ARF.
We are the organization of the Armenian people. We do not create our agenda. It offers itself to us. We are a state-political party in the Republic of Armenia, and a national-liberation party. At one place we engage in lobbying, while in other places, in maintaining the Armenian identity, and culture. There are no contradictions here; these are different parts of the same whole.
The security and sovereignty of Armenia, the prosperity of the people and its government are our issues. The Karabakh struggle is our issue too, the demands of Javakhk and the concerns of the Lebanese Armenia’s are ours too, as well as the burden of a Marseilles Armenia’school. This is how different the ARF is.
Meanwhile, everything is very clear: the Armenian Revolutionary Federation is the organization of the Armenian people-decisive, responsible, victorious.