ARF Opposes Change National Anthem Change

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)– A senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation voiced on Thursday strong opposition to government plans to change Armenia’s current national anthem which was also the anthem of the first Armenian Republic in 1918.

ARF parliamentary faction member Gegham Manukian said Thursday that his party–which is represented in the government–will likely draft a bill that would uphold the status of "Mer Hayrenik" as Armenia’s national anthem "We hope it will pass," he told RFE/RL.

Citing the historical significance of the song–Manoukian explained the party’s position on the matter. He also said the Armenian authorities have not yet made a final decision on the anthem. "The ultimate decision will be a political one," he said.

The "Mer Hayrenik" song had an official status until the short-lived first independent Armenian republic was incorporated into Soviet Russia. It was for decades banned by the Soviet authorities before being reinstated by Armenia’s first post-Communist government in 1990.

The Armenian government set up an hoc commission tasked with suggesting alternative anthems.

The 22-person commission–which consists of prominent intellectuals–artists and government officials–short-listed on Wednesday five out of 85 songs submitted by local composers. The short-list includes Soviet Armenia’s former anthem with changed lyrics that no longer glorify Soviet rule and the Communist Party.

The head of the commission–Culture Minister Hasmik Poghosian–said the contest will finish later this year. "It is very difficult to make the right choice," she said. "But we must pick the best one."

The song that will be chosen by the commission is expected to be submitted by the government to the National Assembly for approval.

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