By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arkady Ghukasian, has shrugged off harsh criticism unleashed on him by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) following the sacking of his sole cabinet minister affiliated with the influential nationalist party.
In a strongly-worded statement issued on December 29, the local branch of Dashnaktsutyun denounced the ouster of Education and Culture Minister Armen Sargsian and accused Ghukasian of impeding the Armenian-controlled region’s democratization. The party said it is recalling all of its lower-level representatives in the Karabakh government in protest against the move that was part of a sweeping cabinet reshuffle.
Ghukasian’s spokesman, Aleksandr Grigorian, dismissed the statement as “inappropriate,” arguing that Sargsian had not been appointed as minister because of his party affiliation. “The NKR government is not formed on the partisan basis,” he told RFE/RL from Stepanakert. “One can therefore assume that the statement by Dashnaktsutyun’s Central Committee in Artsakh is a political act, the purpose of which is not unequivocal even in the light of parliamentary elections expected in the NKR [this year].”
“The dismissal of Armen Sargsian and other personnel changes stemmed from the need to improve the cadre policy pursued in the NKR,” Grigorian added. “The purpose of this is to speed up the republic’s socioeconomic and cultural development and to build a civil society.”
However, the Dashnaktsutyun statement claimed the opposite. “In reality, Ghukasian never came to terms with the comparative success achieved by Dashnaktsutyun and other democratic forces during the recent local elections. He is seriously worried about the upcoming parliamentary elections,” it said.
“We are not going to discuss any issue with him anymore. We will follow our path, he will follow his path,” said Zhirayr Shahijanian, a member of Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body in Karabakh.
Giro Manoyan, the spokesman for Dashnaktsutyun’s highest body, the Bureau, was less categorical, though. “We hope that the president will take steps to make amends with Dashnaktsutyun,” he told RFE/RL.
Still, Manoyan, made it clear that the December 29 statement reflects the official view of the entire pan-Armenian party.
Dashnaktsutyun, which is represented in Armenia’s government and has strong branches in all major Armenian communities abroad, was already in opposition to Ghukasian until cutting a power-sharing with him ahead of his reelection in August 2002. It controls 9 out of 33 seats in the current Karabakh legislature dominated by Ghukasian supporters and hopes to make a stronger showing at the upcoming elections.
(Photolur photo: Arkady Ghukasian.)