YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau Chairman Hrant Markarian and ARF Supreme Council of Armenia President Armen Rustamian Saturday met with former Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan at the ARF "Simon Vratsian" center. Ter-Petrosyan was accompanied by former foreign minister Aleksander Arzoumanian.
The meeting, which took place at Ter-Petrosyan’s request, focused on the domestic political situation in Armenia, as well as addressed issues related to the upcoming presidential elections. Both sides emphasized the imperative for ideological and political discourse.
“The talks were quite serious,” said Markarian during an interview following the meeting. “There weren’t any specific issues discussed or agreemen’s reached. In general the discussion was that we are in a political struggle and every struggle has rules that should be mutually respected," explained Markarian.
"We both intentionally avoided speaking about the past,” he said. “We discussed the future because in order to have internal, national agreement in this country it is important that even ideologically opposed political parties are able to respect each other.”
“Our electoral system is unhealthy,” Markarian said. “There is no single authority in charge of elections and an environment of irresponsibility exists because no one is held accountable. This is a dangerous situation,” added Markarian.
“We often see that during elections—particularly, during the recent parliamentary ones—apolitical forces play a greater role in Armenian politics than do political ones,” remarked Markarian. “It is very important to realize that all the political forces in the country are natural allies when it comes to confronting the depoliticized environment that currently prevails.”
“The fact that the meeting took place is more important than the issues discussed,” he added. "The first president, Levon Ter-Petrosyan had wished to meet and we agreed, because a refusal would have been inexplicable,” he said. “It is crucial for opposite political forces to have mutual respect for one another. It would have seemed as though the ARF was holding a grudge and that is not the way of the ARF,” he added.
The ARF maintains the necessity for real political competition to form the country’s government. “We have already said that we are ready to cooperate with everybody for holding fair and clean elections and there are no exceptions here,” said Markarian. “Even though we differ in regards to ideological-political approaches, we are all allies in this respect and we should all cooperate.”
The ARF would like to see Ter-Petrosyan run for President Markarian noted. “We think that everybody should find his or her place in the competition. And because there are no serious changes since his speech on September 21, I think it would be good if he is nominated,” he added.
When asked whether future meetings with Ter-Petrosyan were a possibility, Markarian commented “it was hard to hold this one. Nevertheless, the psychological burden has partly been eased and it would be easier to hold meetings in the future if needed.”
As for the possibility of Ter-Petrosyan’s endorsement of an ARF candidate, Markarian said that it was hard to imagine it could happen. “I don’t rule out the possibility that many would gather around us. But I don’t have serious reasons to say that they will endorse us by all means,” he added. “However, anything is possible in politics.”
“I think the ARF’s decision to participate in the presidential election is more than a party issue,” he said. “We are coming to prove something else. We are not participating to satisfy the party’s ambitions or even to have our candidate elected. I believe we will make a breaking point in the country’s development towards law and order, justice and civil society.”