ARF to Announce Slate of Candidates on March 3

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation will announce its slate of candidates for the May 12 parliamentary elections on March 3, announced ARF Supreme Council chairman and head of the parliamentary committee of foreign affairs Armen Rustamian Thursday during a press conference. Rustamian told local journalists that the list, when unveiled, would not contain any surprises. He added, however, that there would be an increase in the number of candidates in the list. "It is not a problem for the ARF to determine who is to top the list and who to come next. The ARF has a clear mechanism of discussing such issues and therefore the party never has controversies," he said. Rustamian reiterated his party’s opposition to the so-called "majority" election system, when parliament members are elected from single-mandate constituencies, explaining that such a system leaves plenty of room for falsifications and other electioneering issues before and during the voting process. That is why, the ARF leader announced, that the party will nominate fewer candidates in the single-mandate vote. Rustamian also announced that the ARF was prepared to join forces with any political party to ensure a clean and transparent vote. Rustamian said the ARF has 7,000 members, whom he described as "true members of the ARF." The ARF leader said that the 1988 Karabakh movement brought with the potential of making Armenia free, independent and united, adding that currently Armenia the country currently was not completely free and independent since free elections had not been instituted in the country. He said regardless of who comes to power following the May 12 vote, the same problems would be faced, as along as the election processes in the country did not conform to international norms and standards. In discussing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process, Rustamian said that the international community should recognize the right to self-determination of the people of Karabakh. He said the matter is not about contradictions between principles of territorial integrity and the right of nations to self-determination. "The population of Nagorno Karabakh cannot return to a country, where it was being exposed to systematic genocide. Yes, Karabakh has never been a part of independent Azerbaijan. And we must bring this very fact to the international community," stressed Rustamian. He underscored that the international recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as a priority for Armenia, saying, "Armenia’s approach to the international recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic should be similar to that of Genocide recognition. Only then we can succeed in resolving our problems," said Rustamian. In discussing the Genocide, Rustamian said the adoption of the Armenian Genocide resolution by the US House of Representatives would be a critical turning point in efforts to garner international recognition of the Genocide. Rustamian said all Armenia’s around the world hope that the resolution would be adopted before April 24 when Armenia’s will be marking the 92nd anniversary of the Genocide. Rustamian argued that the adoption of the resolution by the US Congress would encourage other parliamen’s in Europe and elsewhere to follow suit. He also said that the adoption of the resolution would force a revision of the regional policy and a breakthrough in Turkish-Armenian relationships. Rustamian said Armenian genocide recognition would not only underscore the issue from an historical or moral perspective, but would clearly underline its significance in the formation of a regional security system. "The South Caucasus is not in a joint security system, and without it the region would not have serious developmen’s prospects. In this sense Turkish-Armenian relations are of key importance. A security system must be built that will ensure the security of all three South Caucasian nations, of their neighbors, the US and the European Union," added Rustamian, who said the recognition of the Armenian Genocide was a matter of national security for Armenia.

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