Armenia Faces Social Crisis, Says Rustamian

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The current situation, which has developed in Armenia contains many elemen’s of an apparent social crisis, ARF Supreme Council of Armenia Representative Armen Rustamian told reporters Wednesday during a press conference at Armenia’s National Press Club.

"Since last September, a number of processes have been taking place in Armenia-the Presidential elections and the post-election realities," Rustamian said, adding that these very issues were debated heavily during the 14th ARF Supreme Congress of Armenia on Friday.

"Having assessed all the decisions, and announcemen’s made during the Supreme Congress, and having taken into consideration the various opinions presented during its various and multi-faceted discussions, the ARF Supreme Council has concluded that the situation that has developed in Armenia contains many elemen’s of a social crisis," stated Rustamian.

According to him, the current crisis is the direct result of the country’s inability to promptly respond to many serious issues that have been compounding in Armenia. The government’s current activities aimed at democratic, legal and social reform are not enough.

Rustamian said that the ARF will work to hasten the pace of these activities by cooperating with the coalition government to implement its political program.

The country’s political and social issues must be resolved through democratic reforms, he stressed, noting however, that the the stability of the state must also be ensured at the same time.

"This guideline is very important for the ARF. The ARF will be guided by this thesis and all its tactical issues will be in accordance with it," Rustamian said, adding that the Supreme Congress considered the decision to enter the coalition as the best possible solution to the current situation in the country.

"The principle I am talking about is simply this: to change this situation, and secure the country’s stability. This is only possible through these means," Rustamian stated. "Those who want to change the situation now, want to do it at the expense of the country’s stability."

According to him, the Parliamentary ad hoc commission investigating into the March 1 events is an important way to address the post-election crisis. But it must work diligently to gain the society’s trust if it expects anyone to respect its conclusions.

Responding to questions about snap elections being able to change the country’s situation, Rustamian noted that even if new elections were called, the current system in Armenia will not foster an easing of the tense situation, nor will there be a drastic change in the relations between the government and the opposition within the parliament.

The necessary system for proper elections does not exist in Armenia, Rustamian remarked.

"We need to have an independent electoral system so that society’s trust in elections can grow," he said, noting the importance of the activities of a Parliamentary working group tasked with reforming the electoral system. The working group’s activities, he added, were positively assessed by the Council of Europe’s latest fact finding mission to Armenia.

During the press conference, Rustamian discussed the opposition’s ongoing refusal of the government’s suggestions for establishing a dialogue. The opposition, he said, should not ignore the opportunity to participate in the reform process like it in 2005, when the constitution was being reformed.

But the existence of political prisoners is making the possibility of dialogue difficult, he noted, adding that the most important thing for the development of democracy in Armenia is for the country not to have political prisoners.

Everything must be done to ensure that Armenia does not have political prisoners, he stressed, explaining that a possible solution to the current problem might be for the government to grant amnesty to those individuals who were arrested on political grounds.

Turning to foreign relations, and the recent developmen’s related to Turkish-Armenian relations, Rustamian explained that a situation exists today, in which an unspoken conflict exists between Armenia and Turkey.

"Turkey’s preconditions for the normalization of relations with Armenia are ultimatums and are unacceptable to the Republic of Armenia and the ARF," he said. "It is very dangerous if the Genocide becomes a subject of debate in this regard."

According to Rustamian, this is not an issue of the past. It is an issue of the future and is of direct concern to the national security of the country.

"We must not allow Turkey to create an illusion about the existence of relations [with Armenia]," he told journalists. "If Turkey’s president comes to Armenia, the ARF…will say that a neighbor does not speak in ultimatums with a neighbor."

If Turkey wishes to normalize relations with Armenia, then it must take steps in line with international standards, Rustamian remarked.

According to him, if there is a need to create a commission, then it must be an intergovernmental commission, like that which President Robert Kocharian had proposed. A commission of historians can contribute nothing to the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.

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