ARF Leader Says No Discrepancy between His Speech and World Congress Declaration

MARKARIAN SAYS RESTRAINT ONLY GOES SO FAR–BUT NOT TO COVER UP TRUTH

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)–Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) party leader Hrant Markarian–said that his ARF World Congress opening ceremony remarks–on Turkish-Armenian relations–regulation of the Mountainous Karabagh conflict– the plight of Javakhk Armenia’s–as well as the ARF’s participation in the governing coalition–are in full compliance with the spirit of the final declaration of the Congress issued on Wednesday.

Markarian said the Congress–which finished its work on Tuesday–stood by his harsh criticism of its government allies and approved of his calls for a tougher line on neighboring Turkey and Georgia. "One should not think that the ARF could have hesitant approaches in fighting for justice and achieving national goals," he told a news conference.

He said that his four-year activity report–which also included vote fraud during recent Parliamentary elections–did not reveal a new concept. Pointing out that although his speech presented fundamental principles of the party–he added that–"If my views were rejected by the Congress–I would not take it with pain–because the ARF is truly a democratic organization in which the minority obeys the decisions of the majority," he stressed.

He explained that the ARF World Congress is the highest body of the party–with delegates representing ARF chapters from 30 countries who discussed strategic pan-Armenian issues.

In a reference to the coalition government–Markarian said that it has failed to build a united–political body.

He also spoke about Turkish-Armenian relations–arguing that Turkey has no right to put forth preconditions for normalization of relations with Armenia. "It was Turkey that closed the border; therefore–Armenia as a sovereign state and a nation–must not give in to any preconditions"

Concerning Armenia’s of Georgia’s Javakhk region–which he described in his speech as a "powder-keg that could explode any time," Markarian said his calls for an autonomous status for Armenia’s is not a call for separatism. "Autonomy should be granted within the territorial integrity of Georgia," which he said would promote democratization and strengthen Georgia.

In a television interview broadcast late Wednesday–Armenia’s President Kocharian said the ARF criticism did not open a rift between himself and the party. He said–however–it should be more "cautious" in its attacks on government-connected tycoons whom the ARF holds responsible for many of the country’s grave problems.

Markarian reacted by saying–"Yes–we must act with restraint; we are restrained to the extent that we do not offend or humiliate anybody. But we can not be so restrained as to cover up the truth."

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