YEREVAN (Combines Sources)-With 10 days left to Armenia’s Presidential Elections, Yerevan’s Liberty Square was flaring with excitement and optimism Friday as tens of thousands of residents from throughout Yerevan and the other regions of Armenia crowded into the city center for Armenian Presidential Candidate Vahan Hovannesian’s campaign rally.
Hovannesian, who is a member of the Bureau of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, was joined on stage by his campaign manager Armen Rustamian, ARF Bureau Representative Hrant Markarian, ARF Parliamentary Faction members, and students from the ARF Nigol Aghbalian Student Association.
"Twenty years ago we stood here at this square united. We were a people, a nation, a country, conscious of its common interests back then. We stand here again, twenty years later, but we aren’t the same country anymore," Hovannesian said as he began his speech. "We have been living in an illusion and as the old saying goes, ‘the price of illusions is a bitter reality.’"
"Today, as a nation and as a people, we live in two different worlds where on the surface the country seems to be developing while in reality it is in stagnation," Hovannesian said. "Democracy seems to be developing with all its external attributes. But in reality, we live in an unjust environment, deprived of freedom."
"We have united today with confidence and decisiveness to make a breakthrough in the life of our country," Markarian said. "We have come here today to set up a new government, a fair government, a government for the people and by the people."
The country’s economic growth, Hovannesian explained, has nothing to do with the people and the democratic attributes of Armenia are merely a show for the outside world. Regular people have been deprived of their freedom, and the equal opportunity to compete, he said.
"In one world, our constitution develops on its own with new amendmen’s and laws. Real life goes on somewhere else and that life has noting in common with those laws," he said. "Life in Armenia is not governed by those laws, thus we have an unhappy, tired, and disappointed population."
"We are coming on a positive wave…we will remove hatred, antagonism and violence from our life," Markarian said. "We believe that a new government should be formed in our homeland through elections but it is only possible through fair elections in a healthy environment."
The gap between these two worlds is growing, Hovannesian warned. This situation has arisen because we did not realize that the return of independence does not automatically bring justice, Hovannesian told the crowd.
"We need to struggle further. We need more unity, greater efforts, and a stronger resolve. But most importantly, we should not be afraid. We must achieve our freedom and we will achieve it because you are here today," he exclaimed.
In the recent weeks, Hovannesian’s campaign has surged with enthusiasm and activism, according to the candidates campaign manager. Hovannesian’s campaign headquarters has been the center of a student coordinated phone-banking campaign, Rustamian said. Student volunteers have been calling an average of 6,000 Armenian voters daily, speaking to them about the presidential candidate explaining his platform, and answering questions.
"Vahan Hovannesian’s campaign strategy is constantly innovating. We are constantly printing new pamphlets and posters, as well as using new strategies of communication with the people," Rustamian explained. "Hovannesian and his team have already visited over 200 towns and cities throughout the country and by the end of the pre-election campaign we will have visited 80 percent of the communities throughout Armenia."
"I cannot turn mountains and rocks into gold," Hovannesian said during his speech. "But I can promise that I will give you and your children the opportunity to turn your mountains and rocks into gold on your own."
"If I win, the constitutional order in Armenia will be restored and will coincide with real life," Hovannesian pledged.
"We have to win," Markarian said. "We have to win because the blood shed by Armenia’s in Artsakh and border regions of Armenia’should not be ignored."
Throughout the pre-election campaign, Hovannesian and his team have been distinguished themselves as a viable alternative from the current and former regimes who early on locked themselves into a bitter and malicious feud.
The former and current regime stand at two opposite poles, the former is trying to achieve regime change through hatred and opposition, while the latter is trying to maintain its power through pressure and the abuse of government resources, Markarian explained. We are not going to speak about which of these two groups is more negative, he said, because they are the same. The choice should not be between those two groups, it should be between the positive and negative groups.
"You are depriving the people of making the right choice with a shameless, profanity-driven show that you are staging," Markarian said, directing his remarks to Serzh Sarkisian and Levon Ter-Petrosian. "Restrain yourselves, gentlemen, don’t go to extremes, don’t sacrifice our political stability for your dark and evil games, we will not allow you to do that."
The success of the deception that the former and current regimes are engaged in is possible due to the tense and hostile environment, which they have created in order to avoid any real ideological or political struggle, according to Markarian.
"When the government is an end in itself, where it has no ideological or political foundation, or true supporters, the government leans on the state apparatus and so called ‘prominent’ people who can guarantee their power," Markarian explained. "When this is the reality, oligarchs become a machine for electoral corruption, a government bureaucrat becomes a means for ensuring an army of voters, and then oligarchs are granted privileges, free competition is eliminated, bureaucrat’s illegalities are ignored, corruption flourishes, and criminals set up a criminal government."
Hovannesian is a person who has had all the opportunity to join these forces, but he has remained independent and a person of integrity, explained Markarian. He is loved and accepted even by those who do not know him because he has the courage to stand up for what is right, he said.
Hovannesian is the candidate best equipped to bring justice to Armenia, according to Markarina. "Our Vahan is a person who does not depend on oligarchs, bureaucrats, or internal and external secret unions," Markarian reassured the audience. "He does not owe anything to anybody except the people."
Since the pre-election campaign began, over 220,000 voters have signed Vahan Hovannesian’s social contract with the voters, according to Rustamian.
The contract outlines Hovannesian’s platform and his commitmen’s to the people. It also serves as an agreement that the Vahan and the voters will fulfill their duties as citizens of the Republic of Armenia and ensure just and democratic presidential elections.
Rustamian noted that the contract is gaining popularity among the people and is becoming a good avenue for reaching out to and speaking with voters. Our campaign headquarters continues to receive personal letters and phone calls about Vahan Hovannesian and we are working around the clock to make sure that not a single one goes unanswered, Rustamian said.