YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A forum of intelligentsia attended by representatives of the majority of political and public organizations of Armenia was held Monday to discuss the issue of Armenia joining the Union of Russia and Belarus.
Speakers argued for the need to join the Union by pointing out the existence of bilateral military agreemen’s between Armenia and Russia and the need to restore common economic–cultural–and scientific ties.
Several well-known leaders of the Karabakh movement–Armenian actor Sos Sargssian and poetess Silva Kaputikian all called to "unite with Russia in a crucial period for the Armenian people."
Leaders of the Communist Party of Armenia–First Secretary Sergey Badalian and parliament member Leonid Hakopian insisted that the Communist Party be given priority on this issue. Their statemen’s were refuted by certain political circles. In particular–Chairman of the "Zharang" (Heritage) public political organization–Igor Mouradian–one of the Karabakh movement leaders–said that the idea of joining the Russia-Belarus Union is a national idea which rules out any class approach which communists demonstrate. According to Mouradian–the present Commonwealth of Independent States is a non-viable Union–where member-states are selecting strategic partners among which Russia is the most acceptable for Armenia.
Chairman of the "Artsakh-Armenia" public organization and former presidential candidate–Lenser Aghalovian–said that one should not hurry to join the Russia-Belarus Union. However–his speech was interrupted with claps and whistle of those present at the forum.
Member of the Russian State Duma–Thelman Gdlian–harshly criticized Aghalovian and called the latter a representative of the "fifth column." Gdlian said he was delegated by certain political and public circles of Russia who should work out mechanisms for the accomplishment of this idea. He said that one of the possible mechanisms is to run a referendum. Gdlian called on those present to work on it.
Representatives of opposition political parties–Ashot Manucharian of the Scientific-Industrial and Civil Union–Aram Sargssian of the Democratic Party and others refrained from making a speech.
The issue of the political orientation of Armenia–Russia or the West–is rather urgent. According to participants of the forum of intelligentsia discussing the issue of joining the Russia-Belarus Union–which convened Monday–the decision may not only affect the economic and social conditions of the Armenian people–but also its physical existence.
None of the opposition leaders–except for the leader of Communists–clearly expressed their stance on the issue. However–in an interview with Noyan Tapan–leader of the Democratic Party of Armenia Aram Sargssian said that Armenia has common defense space with Russia–as well as economic and political goals. However–he said when making the decision whether or not Armenia’should join the Russia-Belarus Union–it was necessary to learn people’s opinion through a referendum.
Representative of the Communist Party’s parliamentary faction Leonid Hakopian and a leader of the Karabakh movement Igor Mouradian spoke against NATO’s eastward expansion.
"The Commonwealth of Independent States is doomed because of its conjuncture. CIS member-states’ political orientation is not in cooperation with each other," Mouradian said. He believes that Armenia’should not orient to Azerbaijan-Turkey–Moldova-Romania–Tajikistan and Turkemnistan-Iran and anti-Russian Georgia-West tandems. Neither should it pin its hopes on Ukraine–which supplies arms and mercenaries to Azerbaijan. He said that Russia with Belarus are able to stop expansion of NATO–in which Turkey is playing one of the leading roles.
Leonid Hakopian was of the same opinion saying the Central Intelligence Agency was planning a series of provocation in Belarus and was going to accuse Lukashenko of these provocation. He said that "the chief group of CIA officers is headquartered in Poland–while the operation are planned to be carried out by 200 mercenaries from Ukraine." Russian State Duma member Telman Gdlian also stressed the importance of the anti-NATO union with Russia–calling on Armenia to join it