Manoukian Warns of Losing Karabakh

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"A mutiny occurred in Armenia on September 25 1996. The outcomes of the presidential poll were changed by means of force–and a man who actually was not elected became president of Armenia. Both he and the population know this," Chairman of the National-Democratic Union and leader of the united opposition Vazgen Manoukian said Saturday at the eighth Congress of the NDU.

In his report made at the Congress Manoukian noted that Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s speech televised live on September 23–and described by many experts as a violation of the election code–was–in fact–an order to falsify the election outcomes by any means.

According to Manoukian–the order was fulfilled by the force structures–such as Interior–National Security and Defense Ministries. Manoukian said that neither NDU nor any other parties called to oust the leadership through a coup. He reiterated that he assumed all responsibility for a decision to march to the National Assembly building and demand that voting results be revised.

Describing the situation in the country–the opposition leaders stressed that after the presidential elections one more problem had been added to the already existing ones–namely the problem of illegitimate authorities.

He believes that the present leadership is unable to overcome the existing crisis. Manoukian holds that with the current leadership the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh will not be settled. "They will ruin Karabakh. No–they are not traitors–they are not going to sign a document under which Karabakh will remain a part of Azerbaijan. They will ruin the country together with Karabakh. The Karabakh problem will not be settled until the leadership is changed in Armenia."

Manoukian said that Prime Minister Robert Kocharian–pressuring different circles–is trying to collect taxes and restore budget assignmen’s.

He noted that the economy of the country is divided among several clans led by Ter-Petrosyan’s brother–Telman Ter-Petrosyan–a close friend of Yerevan Mayor Vano Siredeghian–as well as others who pay miserable taxes to the budget. However–according to him–attempts by Kocharian to collect taxes will not eliminate the clan system–since it includes the Karabakh clans as well.

Thus–exerting a pressure on one clan–Kocharian will open a way for another–against which he would not be able to fight. Manoukian believes that the current leadership has divided the Armenia’s of Karabakh and Armenia.

Driving an edge between the former and the latter is a consistent policy pursued by the current authorities both in Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. "…it is difficult to speak of the unity on the Karabakh issue," he said.

Speaking of Armenia’s joining the Russia-Belarus Union–Manoukian said he thought it is very important to maintain and further develop political–military and economic relations with Russia–however–one should remember that Russia is stricken with the same unlawfulness.

"We are ill and Russia is ill," he said–adding that Russia and Armenia are divided by various countries with the help of which the West aims at putting a sanitary cordon against Russia. Peoples of the Caucasus and Transcaucasus want independence from Russia and calls to enter Russia may cause negative attitude toward Armenia.

He denied the idea that Armenia’s entering Russia would promote the resolution of the Karabakh problem.

"This is fraud. Russia is currently under pressure. If Russia makes concessions in its national interests–do you really believe it will not cede Karabakh? Russia will first of all cede Armenia and Karabakh," the NDU Leader said.

Analyzing processes ongoing within the right-wing opposition–Manoukian said that negotiations with the authorities on issues that were not included into a platform developed in March by the National Accord Alliance are viewed as weakness of this Union. In this view–the recent meetings of Paruyr Hairikian of the National Self-Determination Union and representatives of Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau with the authorities are not accepted by the NDU.

"We feel much respect for the ARF and the Bureau and are conscious that tasks and the life of the diaspora differ from ours who live in Armenia. But we are against such meetings–since we consider that members of the Bureau should first of all meet with representatives of the National Accord Alliance. I was elected by the united opposition–including the ARF–and I have no personal ambitions here," explained Manoukian.

He said that despite differences existing within the alliance–the members of the group are currently taking steps for unification of all components.

"NDU’s objective is to promote the election of legitimate leadership in Armenia," Manoukian said in conclusion.

The Congress was attended by 183 delegates–Ambassadors of Russia and Iran to Armenia–as well as representatives of various public political organizations.

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