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Dashnaks Again Threaten ‘Regime Change’


Armenia -- Armen Rustamian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, addresses a rally in Yerevan on January 11, 2010.

Armenia -- Armen Rustamian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, addresses a rally in Yerevan on January 11, 2010.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) will strive to depose President Serzh Sarkisian if his fence-mending agreements with Turkey are unconditionally ratified by Armenia’s parliament, a leader of the nationalist opposition party said on Wednesday.


The warning came the day after the Constitutional Court upheld the legality of the two protocols on the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations that have been strongly condemned by Dashnaktsutyun.

In a statement circulated on Wednesday, the party, which was for years represented in Armenia’s governments, criticized the ruling, while stressing the importance of some of its passages interpreting the protocols’ implications.

The Constitutional Court indicated that the documents can not have any bearing on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict or inhibit Armenia’s pursuit of greater international recognition of the Armenian genocide. It specifically mentions the 1990 Armenian declaration of independence from the Soviet Union that refers to the “genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.”

Dashnaktsutyun interpreted this as a de facto invalidation of a protocol provision that commits Armenia to unequivocally recognizing its existing border with Turkey, something which is strongly opposed by Armenian nationalist critics of the deal. “The question of borders remains open,” claimed its statement.

The statement added that the Sarkisian administration must incorporate the Constitutional Court comments into the protocols in the form of “reservations” when it submits them to the National Assembly for ratification. Armen Rustamian, the de facto head of Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body in Armenia, said the pan-Armenian party will launch “a process of regime change” if Sarkisian refuses to do that. It is already trying to drum up “serious public support” for that effort, he said.

“If the people of Armenia, the society do not accept these concerns we will remain alone,” Rustamian told a news conference. “But I am sure this is such an issue that our people, understanding the essence, nature and purpose of regime change, will support this process and taking that step will be increasingly easier than it was yesterday.”

Just how popular Dashnaktsutyun is at present is not clear. Its candidate, Vahan Hovannisian, won only 6.2 percent of the vote in the February 2008 presidential election, according to official vote results. The party also fared poorly in last year’s municipal elections in Yerevan, failing to win any seats in the city council.
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