Armenian Parliamentary and Party Leader Discusses Issues of Concern at Press Conference

GLENDALE–Vahan Hovhannisian–deputy speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly and ARF Bureau member–spoke at a press conference organized by the ARF Western US Central Committee and held at its headquarters–in Glendale–Tuesday night.

In attendance were Armenian Consul General Gagik Kirakosian and members of the ARF Bureau and Central Committee–as well as members of the print and broadcast media. Central Committee chairperson Avedik Izmirlian introduced Hovhannisian to those in attendance.

In his introductory remarks–Hovhannisian referred to Armenia’s role and place in a constantly changing world and the prerequisites for defending Armenian statehood in such circumstances.

He noted that for the moment–the world is unipolar–as a consequence of which certain rules are in play that must be adhered to–even though Armenia will pay a price for doing so. Under present conditions–he said–and as a free and democratic country–Armenia will continue to adhere to European standards.

Parallel to Armenia–the diaspora must also be a focus of concern–he said–because it is the source of huge potential–despite having its roots in a national tragedy. Both Armenia and the diaspora are vital for the survival and development of the Armenian nation–he added.

Hovhannisian said he considers criticism of the government for its mistakes–in general–a beneficial and positive phenomenon. He noted–however–that pathological mudslinging merely creates disillusionment in the people.

He cited two categories of disillusionment. First–he said–the people of Armenia conceptually hold independence to be the equivalent of justice–but when justice is denied them in Armenia–they grow disillusioned in their government and state. Second–he referred to the diapora’s disillusionment with the Armenian government–which is in part due to venomous attacks and mudslinging by various elemen’s–he said.

He–nevertheless–pointed to the presence of systematic corruption–bribery–and other illegal behavior. He added that the ARF continues–in turn–to wage a systematic struggle against such behavior–and expressed hope that the situation in the country would steadily improve.

Hovhannisian also stressed the imperative of homeland-diaspora unity and cooperation in commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide–saying that the Armenian government would do all in its power to bring that about. He added the ARF would also continue to work toward fortifying the unity of the Armenian people–Armenia’s statehood–and development.

In response to questions from members of the press–Hovhannisian touched on various issues.

Regarding the anti-ARF and anti-government campaigns in Armenia or abroad–he said that all sides should welcome constructive criticism–but pathological negativism and personal animosities should be shunned–because they are destructive.

In an open society–he said–it is only natural that the government be the target of popular criticism. Nevertheless–we should be aware that outside forces might also play a role in fomenting discontent–he said–and that is a dangerous possibility than cannot be ruled out.

Regarding the Armenian genocide–he said that the Turkish government continues the genocidal policies of its predecessors. Armenian cultural monumen’s continue to be destroyed in Turkey in an effort to eradicate historical memory and all traces of Armenian inhabitation in Western Armenia–and Turkey has directly supported Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian aggression.

Referring to the issue of sending a small contingent of Armenian troops to Iraq–he said that at this stage–it is not a given since the National Assembly has not discussed the issue–and even when it does–it is not likely to approve the deployment.

He explained that the issue of dual citizenship is more complicated than most people realize. Issues that must still be resolved include the right to vote and be elected to office–military service–and the payment of taxes.

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