ARF Unhappy With Government’s Anthem Decision

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation said it is dissatisfied with the government’s decision not to change Armenia’s national anthem for now and will push for a special law perpetuating the song’s official status, a senior member of the ruling party said on Friday. The government decided on Thursday to scrap its controversial contest for a new anthem and keep the existing one in force for at least one more year after strong protests from the ARF. The "Mer Hayrenik" song was the official anthem of the Armenian republic from 1918-1920. The party regards it as a key symbol of Armenian statehood, dismissing complaints about its simple theme voiced by some prominent politicians and artists. The ARF stepped up its opposition to the proposed change after that President Robert Kocharian left indications that he would like to restore Soviet Armenia’s anthem with different lyrics that would no longer glorify Communist rule. Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and other members of his Republican Party also voiced serious misgivings about the idea. It emerged on Friday that all four ARF ministers rejected the government’s compromise solution, insisting that no time limits be placed on official use of "Mer Hayrenik." Gegham Manukian, an ARF lawmaker, said the party will submit a corresponding bill to the National Assembly. "What happened yesterday once again showed that the ARF’s proposal stemmed from public demand," he said. Galust Sahakian, the Republican party’s parliamentary leader hinted that the current anthem will not be scrapped in the foreseeable future. "I think the matter won’t be solved within a year," Sahakian said. "We should delay a decision until there is public demand [for a new anthem.]"

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