ARF Seen as Bridge Between People and Government Says Executive Council

YEREVAN (Armenpress–Yerevan News Agency)–Newly elected members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Executive Council of Armenia–Vahan Hovanessian and Armen Roustamian held a press conference Thursday at the Yerevan Press Club to outline the party’s position in the wake of the recently completed third ARF Supreme Assembly of Armenia.

Speaking first–Hovanessian outlined that the Supreme Assembly–which lasted 17 days was participated by 150 delegates from throughout Armenia. He explained the reason for such a lengthy meeting was that the delegates were not merely voting on measures–but rather extensive analysis and discussion of issues facing the party today were carried out.

In discussing the recent announcement issued by the Supreme Assembly–Hovanessian explained that the document reflected the party’s path for the coming years.

In a lengthy announcement Monday–the ARF of Armenia outlined the political situation and events in Armenia’since the last Supreme Assembly two years ago–and stressed that while the changes and reforms envisioned to be carried out by the new regime had not yet reached their fruition–nevertheless–the party would support president Robert Kocharian’s programs and would do its utmost to ensure their realization.

Furthermore–the ARF announced that it would work toward the establishment of rule of law in Armenia and ensure the strengthening of democratic institutions–as well as oppose forces which contribute to socio-economic disarray in the country.

Roustamian–the Executive Council’s deputy political director–stressed that the Supreme Assembly had created a new political reality and raised new issues for the ARF in Armenia. The novelty of the situation–Roustamian explained–was that the ARF had the ability now to work from within to strengthen the nation-building process–closely observe and acquaint itself with existing obstacles and work to administer solutions to those issues.

"The ARF sees itself today as a bridge linking the people and the leadership–working not only by observing the negative–but rather to encourage that the leadership does not see itself as flawless," explained Roustamian.

The Executive Council member added that the ARF cannot become an adherent to the government or any other political faction and dispelled the myth that the ARF must take responsibility for everything since it now occupies various governmental positions.

"The ARF will be responsible only for the leverage it has been given," clarified Roustamian.

In discussing the formation of today’s government–both ARF leaders outlined that there still existed some 22 remnants of the last leadership in the current government–an issue which clearly preoccupied the ARF.

Hovanessian–however–clarified that the radical changes in approach between the current and former regime were encouraging–since the current regime–specifically–tolerates opposition forces.

In deference to the former regime–where the activities of the opposition were confined to meetings–demonstrations and mainly occurred on the street–the current regime encourages the free exchange of ideas between pro-government and opposition forces–Hovanessian explained.

The ARF leader and former political prisoner stressed–however–that the party believed that the gathering of all political forces in the country should be the National Assembly–which today does not reflect the proper political picture–thus forcing the ARF into demanding the election of a new legislature.

In discussing other issues–the two leaders touches upon myriad topics–including the Karabakh question–homeland-Diaspora relations and cases still pending against ARF members.

In response to questions about the latter–Hovanessian stated that some of those still incarcerated for the so-called "Dro" and "31" cases face various criminal charges according to Armenia’s criminal code. He explained that this was a direct result of the Supreme Court’s "desire to–at all costs–keep certain people in prison. We still have issues regarding their freedom or their fate."

The two ARF leaders stated that the party continued to press for a parliamentary form of government–and through its input in the Constitutional Reform Council–a new law of the land would be drafted which decisively outlines the powers of the president and other branches of the government.

In conclusion Roustamian reiterated that the ARF is not the government–but "we have our share of responsibilities–although not in all aspects."

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