Rustamian Says ARF Ready for Political and Ideological Discourse

ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Armen Rustamian

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Supreme Body of Armenia representative Armen Rustamian said during a press conference Wednesday that the presidential election "will be significant for a balanced leadership in Armenia." In presenting the new Supreme Body, Rustumian explained the ARFs logic behind nominating two candidates.
"Unfortunately, there is a deep-rooted opinion that the outcome of the elections is predetermined," Rustamian said. "This is the worst way to paralyze the political field, a way that pushes the society and political developmen’s to stagnation. The election should become real and a dispute as to where the country is heading should be initiated."
He said that the party’s position will increase its ratings. Rustamian also said that the party’s stance not to nominate a candidate in presidential election since 1991 was logical but now, "we will be a full-fledged side in the dispute." He explained that despite being a part of the government, the ARF is not part of the coalition and reserved the right to nominate its own candidate.
“We are not against Serzh Sargsian. We are not led by ‘against’ and ‘for.’ We are not looking for enemies," said Rustamian when asked whether the ARF would endorse Serzh Sargsian if Sargsian and someone else pass to the second phase of the presidential election. He further added that the ARF will not engage in negative advertising against anyone. It will only rebuff negative PR against the ARF.
Armen Rustamian and Vahan Hovannsian will compete with each other. "The competition will be transparent. Our meetings will be conducted with our ran’s. We will present our views. It does not matter who of us is elected, it is the ARF that the people is going to support in any case," Rustamian said.
“It would be good and right for the country if Robert Kocharian supported our [presidential] candidate,” said Rustamian. “But naturally, if Serzh Sarkisian runs, Robert Kocharian will back his candidacy. After all, the two men have long worked together and are much closer to each other.” Rustamian added that President Kocharian’s decision to support Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian in the forthcoming presidential elections is “natural” even if it is not good for Armenia.
Kocharian’s press secretary, Victor Soghomonian, made it clear on September that the Armenian leader considers Sarkisian his longtime close ally and worthiest successor. “It is obvious that there is no other politician in Armenia who has that much experience and is capable of performing [presidential] duties,” said Soghomonian.
ARF clearly disagrees with this, despite being represented in Sarkisian’s cabinet by three ministers and having closely cooperated with his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). The pro-Kocharian party has regularly criticized the state of affairs in the country, most recently during a congress held in Nagorno-Karabakh over the weekend. In a statement, it deplored Armenia’s’ “growing alienation from and disappointment with the authorities and political forces.”
Hrant Markarian, another senior member of the ARF said that Sarkisian’s victory in the presidential elections would be bad for Armenia as it would mean that virtually all branches of government are controlled by a single individual. Rustamian echoed this assertion. “If the same political force controls everything, who will serve as its counterweight?” Who will deter it?” he said.
Commenting on former president Ter-Petrossian’s possible political comeback, Rustamian said Ter-Petrossian’s re-entry into politics will transform the presidential race into an ideological struggle. Rustamian further stated that although he could not predict what policy Ter-Petrosian may have the ARF welcomes his possible nomination and will not react to it adversely.
“It has been a decade since we stopped hearing Ter-Petrosian’s opinions. I do not know whether they have changed, but I know that when the ARF was in opposition to his administration, there were two major ideologies in Armenia’s society, one was the national ideology [of the ARF] and the other was denying everything that was national, being actually a cosmopolitan ideology,” he said.
Rustamian further stated that Ter-Petrosian’s potential nomination would create a huge subject for debate and may help many undecided voters make their final choice before going to the polls next year.

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