Is Armenia Left Without an Anthem?

YEREVAN–"Armenia is in a situation where if, God forbids, there is an official ceremony in the next few days [involving anthem rendition], it can not play any music as its national anthem," complained Armenian Revolutionary Federation parliament bloc member Gegham Manukian Wednesday as Armenia was effectively left without a national anthem since parliament failed to meet a constitutional deadline for reaffirming the existing state symbol or introducing a new one. The deadline was set by one of the amendmen’s to Armenia’s constitution that were enacted by the authorities late last year. It meant that the "Mer Hayrenik" (Our Fatherland) song would automatically lose its official status unless the National Assembly passes a special law on the anthem by December 6, 2006. Plans to change the national anthem has met with strong opposition by the ARF, which forced the government last month to scrap the results of a contest for a new Armenian anthem. Still, the government kept open the possibility of anthem change on November 29, pushing through a bill that gives "Mer Hayrenik" only a "provisional" status. The parliament was due to debate the bill in the second and final reading this week. However, Speaker Tigran Torosian blocked the discussion on Tuesday and Wednesday, citing procedural violations committed by the government. "The situation is unpleasant," admitted Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, adding that the government will initiate an emergency parliament session on the issue "soon." ARF lawmakers, meanwhile, insisted on their alternative bill that would perpetuate the official status of "Mer Hayrenik.".

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