ARF Bureau Meets with Kocharian

YEREVAN (ARF Press Service–Armenpress–Noyan Tapan)–The Bureau of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–headed by its chairman Hrand Markarian–met Friday with president Robert Kocharian. ARF Executive Council of Armenia political representative Armen Rustamian also attended the meeting.

The more than one-hour long meeting discussed issue of concern to Armenia and Armenia’s–among them the dire socio-economic conditions in Armenia–as a result of which a new wave of exodus from Armenia has begun. The participants of the meeting discussed concrete measures of emerging from the crisis–emphasizing the fight against corruption and abuse of power on the government level.

Turkish-Armenia relations were also discussed and the president was briefed about ARF Bureau’s efforts for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Kocharian was commended for the government’s policies regarding the Genocide issue. The Bureau praised the president for his remarks during last month’s Millennium Summit at the UN.

The ARF Bureau also conveyed its position on increasing cooperation between the two Catholicosates–and discussed the upcoming celebration of the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s adoption of Christianity as a state religion.

Both sides expressed that the celebrations must serve to strengthen Armenia’s stature internationally.

Following the meeting with the president–the Bureau’s political department–headed by chairman of the National Assembly committee on National Security and Defense Vahan Hovanessian and including Bureau member Garo Armenian and Mario Nalbandian. Joining the ARF leaders was Executive Council member Armen Rustamian.

In his remarks Hovanessian explained that since the party’s World Congress–the ARF has headquartered its organizational and administrative machine in Armenia.

He also briefed the press on the Bureau’s meeting with the president–adding that special emphasis was placed on the socio-economic issues–as well as international relations and domestic politics.

Among the economic issues addressed with the president–Hovanessian pointed out the discussion on the possibility of investment from Latin American countries. The ARF leader said that Brazil–Venezuela and Chile have all expressed interest in investing in Armenia’s economy–adding that Brazil-Armenian businessman Armenak Cherkezian has drafted an economic reform and investment program for Armenia.

Hovanessian also discussed the recent parliamentary elections in Lebanon–saying that 96 percent of the Lebanese-Armenian community participated in the elections–with 90 percent of them voting for the Unity Bloc slate candidates.

He explained that the Bloc was in an election battle against Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri–adding that the party had not forgotten the pro-Armenian positions taken by Hariri during his tenure.

"We hope that in the aftermath of the elections–the cooperation with Mr. Hariri will continue–for the sake of Lebanon and the Armenian people," said Hovanessian.

In discussing the Bureau view on economic issues–Hovanessian said that the ARF was supporting economic reform policies. He added that Armenia’s leadership needs to exude will and determination–in order to counter obstacles in the economic reform processes. He emphasized the importance of fighting against corruption.

The issue of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide was also discussed with the president–reported Hovanessian–who said that the Bureau praised Kocharian for his unwavering stance on the matter during his presentation at the Millennium Summit at the UN last month.

Discussing the Genocide Resolution currently pending in Congress–Garo Armenian said that the passage of the resolution was not solely a Diaspora matter–but rather one that would benefit the Armenian state. Explaining that thus far–Turkey has been able to force its policies within the US government–Armenian pointed out that the passage of the Genocide Resolution "would clarify American policy on the Armenian Genocide and it would become clear that American public opinion is behind the resolution–largely due to the efforts of the Armenian-American community."

The Bureau leader said that with the passage of the resolution–the Armenian authorities would have a strong position in discussing Turkey-Armenia relations.

Press conference participants asserted that current threats from the Turkish government were merely a ploy to form public opinion politically and to stage threats against the US.

"Turkey is not free to do what it wants–as it was in the beginning of the 20th century. It has responsibilities now," explained Nalbandian–who added that Turkey’s threats could jeopardize its membership in the European Union.

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