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Dashnak Leader Set To Get Top Diplomatic Post


Armenia -- Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, undated

Armenia -- Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, undated

A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) confirmed on Tuesday reports that he has accepted President Serzh Sarkisian’s offer to take up an ambassadorial position abroad, raising more questions about his party’s opposition credentials.

Vahan Hovannisian insisted that Dashnaktsutyun will remain in opposition to the Sarkisian administration despite agreeing to his impending appointment. “A Dashnaktsutyun leader’s work in the diplomatic field will in no way inhibit the party,” he told Yerkir.am in an interview.

Reports in the Armenian press said last week that Hovannisian as well as another senior Dashnaktsutyun figure, Levon Mkrtchian, will soon be appointed as Armenia’s ambassadors to foreign states. According to them, Hovannisian will take over the Armenian mission in France.

“Yes, I received an offer to represent Armenia abroad,” Hovannisian said, adding that it is “acceptable” to both himself and the Dashnaktsutyun leadership as a whole. He insisted that the offer did not result from any power-sharing deals cut by the party and the Armenian government or “changes in political views.”

“For me, there is nothing extraordinary about this offer. I have already worked in the area of foreign relations for the past three years,” he said, citing his participation in Armenian parliamentary delegations participating in various international forums.

Hovannisian, who was Dashnaktsutyun’s candidate in the 2008 presidential election, also argued that his party “has always cooperated with the Armenian authorities on all those foreign policy issues where joint work has promised greater results in terms of protecting Armenian interests.”

Analysts will point out, however, that foreign policy was the reason why Dashnaktsutyun pulled out of Armenia’s governing coalition in 2009 in the first place. The nationalist party, which is particularly influential in the worldwide Armenian Diaspora, strongly objected to Sarkisian’s policy of rapprochement with Turkey. It repeatedly demanded Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian’s resignation.

Hovannisian argued that the Turkish-Armenian normalization protocols, which were signed later in 2009 and strongly condemned by Dashnaktsutyun, never took effect. He said Turkey itself exposed the “bankruptcy” of the protocols by linking their parliamentary ratification with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Observers critical of both Dashnaktsutyun and the government will hardly find such arguments convincing. Some media commentators have already portrayed Hovannisian’s imminent appointment as further proof that the party retained links with the Armenian authorities after quitting the government.
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