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Regime Change ‘Top Priority’ For Dashnaks


Armenia -- Armen Rustamian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, undated.

Armenia -- Armen Rustamian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, undated.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Monday declared leadership change in Armenia a top priority but again stopped short of demanding President Serzh Sarkisian’s immediate resignation.


In a declaration released after a congress that finished its work at the weekend, Dashnaktsutyun’s organization in Armenia listed “the formation of a new government” among the nationalist opposition party’s four key aims.

The three others are “the establishment of social justice,” “defense of civil rights,” and “the restoration of the national course.” The latter objective implies a return to more hard-line policies on Turkey and Azerbaijan that were pursued by former President Robert Kocharian.

Dashnaktsutyun was a key ally of Kocharian throughout his decade-long rule. It quit the government in April 2009 in protest against President Serzh Sarkisian’s policy of rapprochement with Turkey.

While strongly condemning that policy, the influential party, which has branches in all major Armenian communities abroad, has been careful not campaign for Sarkisian’s ouster. The de facto head of its Armenia branch, Armen Rustamian, made clear that Dashnaktsutyun will continue to stick to that line in the months to come.

“We want to change the government by means of elections,” Rustamian told a news conference. “That is the way to go. Regime change through upheavals is always dangerous and harmful, especially given that Armenia and the Armenians now faces an unfinished war.”

Still, the chairman of the Armenian parliament’s committee on foreign relations did not rule out the possibility of pre-term presidential and parliamentary elections sought by more radical opposition groups such as the Armenian National Congress (HAK). “A force-majeure situation can always arise in a country like ours, and any political force respecting itself must always be prepared for such scenarios,” he said.

The Dashnaktsutyun statement contained a long of list of socioeconomic and political problems facing Armenia, including include a culture of electoral fraud, government abuse and widespread poverty.

“Today the state is not by the citizen’s side,” said Rustamian. “Unfortunately, we have two types of states. One caters for the interests of a minority, a privileged class, while the other has left its citizens on their own.”

Rustamian also referred to “disgraceful” verdicts routinely handed down by Armenian courts. “New authorities must be formed in Armenia. These authorities are incapable of solving all these problems. This is already a fact,” he added.

Rustamian insisted that his party is not responsible for the country’s ills despite having been in government for eleven years. Dashnaktsutyun never had enough powers to remedy them, he said.

Dashnaktsutyun at the same time claimed credit for what it sees as positive changes that were effected by the Kocharian administration. Among them are Kocharian’s “national” foreign policy, the 2006 reform of the Armenian constitution and closer ties with the worldwide Armenian Diaspora.

“Had Dashnaktsutyun not been a part of the government, those issues would definitely not have been solved,” claimed Rustamian.

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