YEREVAN (ARF Press)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) was among 120 political parties taking part in the meeting of the Council of the Socialist International–which took place in Lisbon June 29-30. Participants included leading socialists and social democrats–among them a number of presidents and prime ministers–as well numerous party leaders–ministers and other officials.
The ARF delegation was comprised of ARF Bureau member–ANC-Europe Chairman–and ARF representative to Socialist International–Mario Nalbandian. Also included in the delegation were ARF Bureau member Vahan Hovhannesian and ARF member Shaghig Maroukhian.
The meeting was chaired by Portuguese Prime Minister Antnio Guterres–President of the Socialist International. Also speaking was French Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy–former President of Socialist International. Both stressed the important role of the socialist movement in various international issues.
The Council discussions opened with the theme "Social Democracy in the World Today," as the International marked the 50th anniversary of its re-establishment in 1951.
The other main themes of the agenda were: the Kyoto Protocol and the urgent task of saving the environment; Initiatives for Peace–focusing on the current situation in the Middle East and conflicts in Africa; and globalization and the reform of the World Trade Organization–WTO.
Leaders of the member parties of the Socialist International in the Middle East–including the President of the Palestinian Authority and President of Fatah Yasser Arafat–Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of the Israel Labour Party–and Yossi Sarid–President of Meretz and leader of the opposition in the Israeli Knesset–participated in the discussions on peace in the region.
Also speaking under the current situation in the Middle East theme was Vahan Hovhannesian–who touched upon the establishment of stability and peace in the Transcaucasus–and the ongoing Karabakh peace process.
ThARF delegation met with numerous officials throughout the meeting–including Socialist International President and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres–and Socialist International General Secretary Luis Ayala.
The ARF also met with Yossi Sarid–who as former Education Minister of Israel–initiated the teaching of the Armenian Genocide in Israeli schools last year. Sarid was thanked by the ARF delegates for his decision. The ARF also expressed dissatisfaction with recent controversial statemen’s made by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres–questioning the validity of the Armenian Genocide.