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Dashnak Leader Hails Sarkisian’s ‘Audacity’


Armenia -- Aghvan Vartanian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, at a news conference, 28 April 2010.

Armenia -- Aghvan Vartanian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, at a news conference, 28 April 2010.

A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Wednesday praised President Serzh Sarkisian’s decision to freeze the normalization process with Turkey, seemingly contradicting his party’s reaction to the move.


Dashnaktsutyun is a vocal critic of Sarkisian’s conciliatory line on Turkey, having pulled out of his coalition cabinet a year ago in protest. Its senior representatives have said that Yerevan should have formally walked away from the Turkish-Armenian protocols, instead of only suspending the procedure of their ratification by the Armenian parliament on April 22.

But Aghvan Vartanian, a member of the nationalist party’s governing Bureau, was more positive about the move, saying that the protocols are now “effectively dead” and that Armenians should therefore “appreciate the president’s audacity.”

“Of course, we could have shut the door, rescinded our signature, and that would have been right,” Vartanian told a news conference. “But unfortunately, our country is still not that strong and independent. Unfortunately, we are still not Turkey.”

“Nonetheless, I think the issue is closed, and that is good,” said the former labor minister.

Armenia -- Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
The remarks contrasted with what another Dashnaktsutyun Bureau member, Vahan Hovannisian, said in the Armenian parliament on Tuesday. He downplayed the significance of Sarkisian’s move, arguing that the National Assembly would not ratify the protocols before their endorsement by the Turkish parliament anyway.

The former deputy parliament speaker argued that Sarkisian stopped short of even recalling them from the assembly. “The president should have recalled the protocols in order to send or not send them back or to send them back with reservations later on,” he said.

Hovannisian, who now leads Dashnaktsutyun’s parliament faction, said the influential party remains of the opinion that the Armenian leader should have scrapped the accords altogether. “As long as Armenia’s signature remains in those documents, we will be susceptible to [external] pressures,” he said. “They [foreign powers] will make every effort to open a new door to Turkey, in terms of ratification, and I’m worried that that will be done at our expense. Namely, by forcing us to make unilateral concessions on Nagorno-Karabakh.”

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