- ARF Bureau representative Hrant Margarian made a speech at the 30th congress of the party, held on 21 May in Yerevan. Below are excerpts from Margarian’s speech.
Each ARF congress is a turning point in a way. We asses the past four years, assess strictly, with criticism and trust and outline the future task with responsibility. This 30th congress is right on time; we have had two national elections.
Regardless of our will, this congress is held in circumstances that followed the Armenian presidential election. The Republic of Armenia and our role in it are the key issues of this congress. So, it is crucial to objectively analyze the road we have passed.
We managed to offer clear objectives, we gathered many supporters. It was crucial that after the positive election in May, we were planning a stable progress for our country. We nominated our own candidate in the presidential election with several goals. Though we stood by the country’s authorities in 1998-2008 and contributed to the progress, we also had voiced our discontent about such things as insufficient fight against corruption and illegal behavior of criminal and half-criminal elements. And we entered the arena as an alternative to both the former and the current authorities.
We were sure that our participation would contribute to democratizations, fair elections. Some think that we would have been in a better position in the presidential election if we had refused to join the ruling coalition after the May election. We were being realistic. In our view, the period between the parliamentary and presidential elections was too short and we could not make a sharp turn. We attempted to form new election blocs and we made serious offers.
We did not success in the presidential election, we failed, I have to confess. The new realities that emerged in the parliamentary election gave hope that the presidential election too would be held a civilized environment and not among the deaf and the blind. But it was not the case. Presidential elections in 1996, 1998, 2003, 2008 were held in tense environments, and two of them, the 1996 and 2008 elections resulted in bloodshed. Is it an accident that in both those cases the same person was involved?
First, as a ruler and then as opposition. We should not be primitive and assess all the past presidential elections the same way; I’ll talk about the last one only.
The social situation, injustice, corruption, impunity of the elites, illegal monopolies, nepotism, obstacles for private entrepreneurship and human rights violations have resulted in emergence of a large opposition mass.
The man whose rule is remembered with hatred came to the arena after ten years of silence. His policies were rejected in our country. Knowing this well, he hid behind the discontent existing in the country. It turned out that he had not come to engage in program or ideological struggle. The situation became tense every day, the election atmosphere became polarized. The election now was not between the candidates but between the current and former authorities. Those who were scared by the former rulers were voting for the current rulers and those unhappy with the current rulers were voting for the former rulers.
For the first time in the recent period, we were entering the race with our own candidate, and we have to credit our candidate for his positions, behavior and courage. Good job, comrade Vahan.
We managed to show that we are a party of our own and that our cooperation and competition do not affect the principle essence of Dashnaktsutyun. We were an alternative with our platform, our national vision and our moral concepts. Many would ask: why did the Dashnaktsutyun entered the coalition after criticizing the current authorities? What happened in the country was an effort of a colored revolution with the same methods and mechanisms used in Georgia, Ukraine and Serbia.
We are not an anti- force and will not be one in future. We are not anti-American, anti-English or anti-Russian but we know how to consider our sovereignty and dignity above everything else. We have a national issue, Artsakh liberation. Why do international organizations, NGOs, foundations, the so-called institutes use so many people, money to attempt a regime change in this country or weaken the authorities of this country? The so-called colored revolution failed. He resorted to the minimum trying to have foreign forces intervene. And the March 1 tragedy happened. The March 1 was not in the interest of the country, the people and the authorities. And it was in the interest of him only, and he got it, unfortunately.
The authorities were not ready for March 1; the opposition was. The confrontation was in the interest of foreign forces only and in the person who does not like his country or people. The confrontation opened way for foreign involvement and weakened out country. The weakness of the state questions the sovereignty and security and confidence in the international arena. We could not sit and do nothing in this confrontation. We as well as many others had the feeling of the danger during the election period and we did our best to prevent this result, we tried to call to senses, we tried to form a public opinion. But our calls did not reach their goal.
There were two poles: this type of opposition was on the one pole, speaking of democracy, human rights but counting on foreign forces. Power was not even a political goal.
The anti-Karabakhtsi movement is an anti-national movement. We should realize that we are one nation, we all should be Karabakhtsi, Javakhktsi, Nakhijevantsi. The artificial separations lead us to divisions. We remember the days when dozens of newspapers were banned, when a party was banned, when politicians were behind the bars and not on squares and when corruption, impunity, injustice were as spread as now. As hard as we try to hide the Armenian National Movement, change the name, we see the ANM’s ears.
The winning side was on the other pole. It did not win the election fairly but neither we, nor the international community have disputed the results. The current authorities are the successor of the ones in power for the past ten years but we should not consider them as completely the same. It was clear that the government was under huge pressure from outside. The outside pressure has increased today: they have set up a force â€“ a network – inside the country to seize the fortress from inside. We had no choice in this situation, we had to stand by our statehood, we had to show we can solve our problems on our own. And we signed a political agreement with the president-elect. Our presence in the coalition is understandable as long as the threat exists. But the endurance of the coalition is a condition for the clear goals, and we will evaluate the results once in a while. There are positive steps and there are hope and expectations.
The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly has put forward demands for our country, and many are happy. But the truth is that before Resolution 1609, the coalition parties had assumed the same goals. Why are they not glad about the coalition agreement that we will implement regardless of Europe? Also, what the coalition has agreed to accomplish is in line with the Dashnaktsutyun goals and principles. What were we supposed to do? Some think we should have not jointed the ruling coalition and become opposition. Is this a responsible political position? No, and no again.
I would also like to speak about some other issues. I would like to address the Lebanese Armenians who are now in difficult security conditions. We are standing by you, we share your concerns.
Javakhk’s struggle for autonomy in Georgia is stalled. Our delicacy has met the international community’s and Georgia’s silence wall. We need to reignite our struggle. It is necessary that Armenia use its international capacities in this issue.
Karabakh: we believe in talks for settling the conflict. But we also see it crucial to demand form the international community to first ensure guaranteed peace. Otherwise, Azerbaijani threats and western sponsorship threatens our positions. To talk when there is a guarantee for security.
Comrade Marukhian, after Armenia’s independence, would not use the word Diaspora. He would say abroad. Everything should be done to integrate the sections of our nation in one nation. The Dashnaktsutyun is a national party and is the only organization that was able to unite our nation in absence of statehood. We are long a political factor abroad. Our fight there is for Armenia and Armenians, for their security, prosperity, national demands. Let’s praise everybody, whether a Dashnaktsutyun member or not, who have worked hard for the international recognition of the Armenian genocide.
Our position is right, our struggle is successful. The Turkish-Azerbaijani reaction, their efforts to counter us using all their capacities, comes to prove this. But taking into account their activities, we have to reorganize our agenda. The recent events show that our country is an open field for foreigners. Expansion and strengthening of our organization is an issue of national security. To maintain our country’s independence, sovereignty is possible only with a powerful Dashnaktsutyun, literally.
We are the organization of the Armenian people. We do not correct our agenda. It offers an agenda to us. We are a state-political party in the Republic of Armenia, and a national-liberation party elsewhere. At one place we engage in lobbying, in other places, in maintaining the Armenian identity, culture. There are no contradictions here; these are parts of our wholeness. The security and sovereignty of Armenia, the prosperity of the people and governance are our issues, Karabakh’s unwanted struggle load is ours too, the demands of Javakhk and Lebanese Armenians’ concerns are ours too, the burden of a Marseilles Armenia school are ours too. This is how different the Dashnaktsutyun is.
Meanwhile, everything is very clear: the Armenian Revolutionary Federation is the organiztion of the Armenian people. Decisive. Responsible. Victorious.