AGO Group Meets With ARF Parliamentary Faction

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–A visiting delegation of the Council of Europe’s AGO group Tuesday met with parliamentary factions in Armenia, among them the Armenian Revolutionary Federation bloc.
ARF Bureau member and Parliament member Vahan Hovannesian told the delegation that after the presidential elections, the people’s general discontent with the government and their policies were manipulated by the extreme opposition.
Hovannesian added that the most disturbing aspect of the post-election unrest in Armenia was that Turkey and Azerbaijan sought to use the situation to apply pressure on Armenia and Karabakh.
He stated that in similar situations, when people are forced to choose between classic democracy or national security, they have chosen the national security element. Hovannesian stressed, however, that the only way to ensure national security and stability is through the strengthening of democracy and democratic principles.
Hovannesian explained to the visiting delegation that the ARF, during and after the elections, issued several announcemen’s through which the party proposed a set of benchmarks for emerging from the crisis.
He also added that the ARF accepted the decision of the Constitutional Court and not challenged it because the party believes that the people should accept the Constitutional Court as the body whose decision is the final word on a matter.
Hovanessian characterized the March 1 events as a “direct result of visible threats” to national security. He said that the ARF presented several proposal to the leadership, among them the extension of the opposition’s rights through legal means, guaranteeing freedoms of expression and speech and the creation of a all-encompassing body to address the future of Armenia.
The ARF leader added that thus far all his parties recommendations had been approved, explaining that the people of Armenia were looking for fundamental and radical reforms. He added that the principles of forming a government and the individuals included in the new government should speak for the leadership’s commitment. “Will there be real changes, or not?” said the one-time parliament speaker.
Hovannesian also discussed statemen’s by the Swiss representative in the European Council, who said the former President Levon Ter-Petrosian enjoyed the support of a segment of the population since his campaign slogan was to fight against fraud. In response Hovannesian pointed out that roots of fraud in Armenia were planted during the Ter-Petrosian administration with more severe ramifications than today. The ARF was the only entity that fought against that, and as a result the party was shut down, its publications halted and several people were imprisoned.
ARF parliamentary faction leader Hrair Karapetian expressed disappointment that the extreme opposition–namely the Armenian National Movement–had the opportunity to become part of the parliamentary opposition. Unfortunately, they opted to stay out of the parliamentary race. Karapetian said one of the ways to emerge from the current impasse is to engage the opposition in the political process, if they are willing participants.

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