ARF Body Calls for Dialogue Outlines Proposal to Defuse Crisis

YEREVAN (YERKIR)–As political tension sharply escalated in Yerevan between the government and the opposition–the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s Supreme Body of Armenia issued a statement during a news conference on Monday.

The following is the full text of that ARF statement.

The internal political tension in the Republic is approaching the brink of outright confrontation. Further escalation may result in destabilizing the country–undermining the authority and credibility of the state–and impeding the normal process of the country’s development. Public resentment stemming from socioeconomic problems is being politically exploited with the aim of bringing about a political crisis to attain a swift change of power.

The tactic of creating political instability and an environment of intolerance leads to unacceptable internal political relations.

At the core of the current political tension lies–on the one hand–the opposition’s intolerance and extremism and its modus operandi of rejecting the legitimacy of the authorities–which leads to political disobedience–and–on the other hand–the [authorities’] failure to secure the full participation of the opposition in resolving the issues that are critical to the development of the country.

The real reasons for the current discontent are the persistent–grim social conditions and the low level of efficiency in resolving those critical issues. The ARF fully recognizes and acknowledges the extent of its share of responsibility in this matter.

Today we confront the imperative of preventing that potential confrontation–and the best means of doing so is to reach a political agreement. An awareness of the need to jointly tackle the critical issues vital to the welfare of the people–and a willingness to do so–must form the basis of that agreement. The possibility of reaching that agreement can be ensured only if there is the willingness to reach a commonality of goals–guarantee the resolution of critical issues and obtain the opposition’s active participation in those efforts–and to meet each other halfway.

Taking into account the complexity of internal political relations and the degree of mutual exclusion among the various positions–we propose a possible mechanism for reaching an agreement.

It is necessary to initiate dialogue regarding the prospect of reaching an agreement–but each side must refrain from issuing deman’s that are a priori inadmissible and unacceptable to the other side. It is necessary to abstain from dividing society into allies and enemies–and to avoid taking actions that risk bringing about clashes.

Dialogue in accordance with the following principles might be productive: Armenia’s Constitution and laws should form the legal basis of the dialogue; the actions of the sides should fall strictly within the limits of the law and constitutional order.

In this process–both sides should moderate their views.

The dialogue must not bring about winners and losers: either we shall all win–ensuring the rapid and stable development of the country–or we shall all lose–reaping the devastating consequences of confrontation and civil conflict.

The objective of ensuring real and guaranteed reforms in the life of the country and its people might form the substance of the agreement–which would include the following priority issues:

The formation of an electoral system that entirely meets international standards

Constitutional reforms that strengthen democratic mechanisms

A comprehensive fight against corruption–the shadow economy–and the system of clans

Ensuring the proper level of opposition involvement is an important guarantee of the agreement’s effectual implementation. That may mean including the opposition in the Security Council and the fight against corruption–delineating possibilities of adopting the constitutional and electoral reforms through consensus–and resorting to various other options and solutions–depending on the extent of the agreement.

Efficient use of the present moment is necessary for achieving voluntary mutual concessions. Otherwise–full responsibility for any clashes that occur will fall squarely on the shoulders of those who allowed to slip away an opportune occasion for reaching agreement. Subsequent developmen’s will–in any event–compel the political forces to make involuntary concessions–with all their attendant consequences.

The political coalition should be the guarantor of–and responsible for–the establishment of dialogue and agreement.

The ARF resolutely rejects any action that might thrust the country into unpredictable external or internal consequences–thus condemning the people to an uncertain future; it steadfastly stands for the upholding of the legal and constitutional order; and it is prepared to back all constructive initiatives aimed at achieving guaranteed political reforms and civil accord.

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