Newly Elected ARF Body Reveals Priorities

YEREVAN (YERKIR)–Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s (ARF) Supreme Body (SB) representative Armen Rustamian–and SB member and National Assembly’s ARF faction leader Levon Mkrtchian–held a news conference on Wednesday–following the organization’s 8th Supreme Convention last weekend.

Rustamian noted that the convention was unique in nature–considering the ARF is now a partner in the coalition government.

The convention pointed out that a great deal of the priorities included in the ruling coalition’s memorandum [drafted at the time of its formation] have not been fulfilled; Rustamian added that the coalition did succeed–however–in easing political tension and maintaining stability following elections in Armenia.

Revealing the convention’s dissatisfaction at the implementation of government anti-corruption measures–Rustamian stressed the newly elected ARF Armenia body will work to establish reforms to permanently change the country’s direction.

"We have consistently said that the country has been heading in the right direction since 1998–but we need serious steps to make that course irreversible," he said.

To reach that goal–we have decided to continue our presence in the coalition government," but added that the ARF "reserves the right to reconsider its participation in the coalition government in the event of a breach of the goals spelled out in the [June 2004] memorandum on its creation,"

The convention underscored the importance of Mountainous Karabagh Republic’s full participation in peace talks to resolve its conflict with Azerbaijan–and suggested that the Armenian government work with Georgia to alleviate the deteriorating socio-economic situation of the mostly Armenian populated region of Javakhk.

With much talk of Turkey’s aspiration to join the European Union (EU)–the convention concluded that its recognition of the 1915 Genocide and a neutral stance toward the Karabagh conflict be preconditions to EU accession.

Touching on the issue of sending Armenian troops to Iraq–Rustamian said the convention concluded the Armenian government be guided by UN resolutions–but also practice caution so as to prevent Armenian communities of the Middle East from becoming targets of international terrorism.

Concluding the news conference–Rustamian said the convention also discussed government’s relations with the opposition–as well as constitutional and the electoral code reforms. The ARF is pushing for electoral reforms to increase parliamentary seats contested on the party list basis as opposed to individual races in single-mandate constituencies.

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