STEPANAKERT—With the participation of more than 100 delegations and guests from 30 countries, as well as representatives of the government of Artsakh, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation on Wednesday convened the 33rd World Congress, in Stepanakert at the National Assembly hall—the first time that the 128-year-old party has held its highest assembly in Artsakh.
Among the high-ranking Artsakh officials present at the inaugural session of the World Congress were Speaker of the Artsakh Parliament, Ashot Ghulyan, Primate of the Artsakh Diocese Archbishop Parkev Martirosyan and members of the Artsakh parliament and other government offices.
The first and the only public session of the World Congress was called to order by ARF Artsakh Central Committee chairman Davit Ishkhanyan, who was presiding over the meeting along with ARF Bureau member Armen Rustamyan and ARF Supreme Council of Armenia Chairman Arsen Hambartsumyan.
After the singing of the anthems of Artsakh, Armenia and the ARF, Ishkhanyan invited Ghulyan to the podium to present welcoming remarks by Artsakh President Bako Sahakian.
WATCH THE ARF WORLD CONGRESS INAUGURAL SESSION
“The Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsoutyun regularly holds congresses, consultations, and meetings in our republic. However, the World Congress as the party’s key political event is being held in Artsakh for the first time, which has in itself a unique meaning testifying the special role and significance of Artsakh in the ideology and activity of the party,” said Sahakian in his statement.
“The Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun Party’s role in our national-liberation struggle, in the restoration, defense, formation and development of the independent Armenian statehood, in solving issues of pan-Armenian significance could not be overstated,” added the president in his statement.
“The ARF and its different structures also represent a powerful bridge which maintains strong bonds between the Homeland and the Diaspora, being among the most significant institutions of preserving national identity of the Armenians worldwide, patriotic up-bringing of the younger generation,” explained Sahakian.
“The reinforcement of the Artsakh statehood, just settlement of the Artsakh issue, international recognition of our republic are of crucial importance for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. We feel it constantly and appreciate it very much,” emphasized Sahakian in his statement as was presented by parliament speaker Ghulyan.
Archbishop Martirosyan offered his blessings for the meeting and praised the ARF for standing steadfast alongside the people of Artsakh and commended the party’s resolute role not only in the Artsakh Liberation Struggle but throughout the three decades of the republic’s existence.
Taking the podium to address the Congress was ARF Bureau chairman Hrant Markarian, who in his presentation touched on the geopolitical challenges facing the region and the imperative for Armenia and Artsakh to confront them in a manner that will advance Armenia’s national aspirations.
He pointed out that the ARF has been at the forefront of the Artsakh movement from day one and will continue to fight for its existence.
Markarian also assessed the domestic situation in Armenia, saying that the popular uprising that overthrew the previous regime was born out of the people’s determination and drive to, once and for all, rid the country of its corrupt leaders and reclaim their country.
He cautioned, however, that while the people’s will had prevailed, Armenia had not completely transitioned into the country envisioned by its new constitution that was approved in 2015. He declared that the ARF’s vision to topple poverty and advance social justice in Armenia is in its nascent state and warned that the new leadership in Armenia, due to its inexperience, might not have the necessary tools to develop the necessary mechanisms to address those concerns.
Thus, he said, the ARF will continue to be vigilant and advance its ideals for a better and stronger Armenian state.
“There is an extremely high risk of a amalgamation of the executive and legislative branches and a strengthening of one-person rule,” warned Markarian. “With their inexperience, bad governance and poor cadres, the authorities could set the country several years back from its natural development.”
Markarian also said that recent criticism of the ARF has been directed at his person, adding that while he is not impacted by such hearsay, the ARF is at a point to revamp its approaches.
“We have reached a point where we need to reform,” Markarian told the ARF World Congress session, which was being broadcast live by Yerkir Media. “This regrouping also requires certain changes, and I propose to start the first change from myself.”
The long-time ARF leader then announced that he will not seek re-election to the new Bureau, the selection of which is the final agenda item of the World Congress.
Following the conclusion of the session, the World Congress participants visited and paid their respects at the monument of fallen freedom fighters.