By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Members of parliament representing the opposition Heritage party of ex-foreign minister Raffi Hovannisian received their parliamentary mandates at the Central Election Commission on Tuesday.
The party’s leader had stated before the first session of Armenia’s fourth National Assembly last Thursday that Heritage would not get their mandates as they had not received, in a manner reflective of the rule of law, due notice of that session or any invitation. Besides, he said then, Heritage found it impossible to be present at any parliament session until the Constitutional Court decided on the validity of the parliamentary elections.
The Constitutional Court on Sunday upheld the legitimacy of the May 12 elections in which Heritage received six percent of the vote and the right to form a seven-member faction in parliament.
“The faction will be promoting not only democratic, national and liberal values, but also the respect for the state’s law and constitution,” Hovannisian told RFE/RL.
The faction is expected to elect its leaders and make appointments of its members to the National Assembly’s standing committees soon.
Hovannisian’s Heritage makes up a small opposition together with ex-parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir. Both political parties are viewed as pro-western by the public and analysts.
Hovannisian, however, says that Heritage is “a pro-Armenian” force.
“It is incumbent on the new generation of Armenia’s leaders to decide whether Armenia joins NATO as a member or not,” Hovannisian said. “It may happen that the issue will be on the agenda in the next five or ten years, but for the time being Armenia must become a sovereign state, a state that respects itself, and not a banana republic. And this implies mutual respect with strategic, traditional and new partners.”