Manoukian Discusses Washington Visit

GLENDALE–Armenia’s National Accord Alliance leader and chairman of the National Democratic Union of Armenia Vazgen Manoukian discussed his recent visit to Washington Monday afternoon during a press conference with representatives of the local Armenian media–at the Armenian Center.

Manoukian told the gathered reporters that while in Washington he was able to become acquainted with some of the approaches to Armenia prevalent in various US political circles–and–at the same time–impart the views of the NDU and the National Accord Alliance to leaders in the nation’s capital.

He stressed that there were no pressures from government officials on restoring democracy in Armenia–adding that those circles were mainly concerned that all issues would be resolved peacefully.

Manoukian also outlined the perspective echoed in Washington regarding the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. The former presidential candidate also stated that through discussion and an open dialogue with American leaders–he was able to articulate the true aspirations of the Armenian people regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In his opinion–all forces in Armenia–authorities–opposition–non-aligned–agree to one solution to the Karabakh conflict–and urged that all Armenia’s must rally behind that principle in order to ensure the desirable fruition to the conflict resolution process.

He stated that all forces in Armenia believed that the peace talks must progress toward a direct dialogue between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan–whereby the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic would be determined.

Manoukian also stated that during talks with US officials–he had emphasized the importance of preserving human rights and the right to self-determination–saying that the resolution of the three main issues–refugees–the so-called occupied territories and Karabakh’s independence–would ensure lasting peace in the region.

The former prime minister also discussed the importance of restoring democracy in Armenia. His main message of returning the government to the people–came across as a plea by the people of Armenia who have the willingness to decide their fate.

He outlined several election violations related to last September’s presidential elections–and added that following those elections the people realized that their will was being shortchanges by the authorities. Mechanisms to restore democratic rule in Armenia would involve exposing the faults and self-serving policies of the current authorities–Manoukian explained.

He also emphasized the importance of restoring the rule of law in the country–which would allow all forces–leadership and opposition–to be accountable to the people. The re-establishment of democracy would mainly involve elections–be they parliamentary–presidential or local–since–according to Manoukian–the people of Armenia feel shortchanged thus a restoring of the electoral mechanism would also be required.

In discussing regional politics–Manoukian vehemently and unequivocally rejected any form of union with other CIS nations–including Russia–thus opposition the existing sentimen’s within certain political circles in Armenia calling for the Belarus-Russia union model to be applied to Armenia.

He explained that such a union–which would indicate the hand-over of government to another state–would create severe animosity by neighboring independent states and would further complicate regional stability.

Azerbaijan and Georgia have both rejected a union equation similar to that of Belarus-Russia. Furthermore–the original proposal of complete integration between the two countries–as put forth by Belarus–was rejected by Russia and the current agreement is a watered down version of the original intent.

In discussing the opposition–Manoukian stressed that cooperation among the political parties involved in the National Accord Alliance was very strong–while points of disagreemen’s–a natural phenomenon in democratic societies–remained.

Manoukian also clarified that his sentimen’s toward the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–stating that the party’s role in the presidential polls was pivotal in the opposition victory.

He also stated that certain opposition to his visit by various local organizations and outlets was seen as an unwillingness by certain elemen’s in the community to hear or experience alternative views. Manoukian said that since Armenia’s independence a group of people and organizations has emerged which solely advocated and praised Armenia’s leadership without regard to their policies or actions. Whether those individuals and organization would support all leadership in future–was unclear since while those entities harbored ill-feelings toward the current opposition–their rationale which dictates a blind support in Armenia’s leadership would require them to support the opposition in the event of change in the authorities.

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