The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) insisted on Friday that it will remain in opposition to the government even after the widely anticipated appointment of one of its leaders to a senior diplomatic post.
Dashnaktsutyun raised questions about its opposition credentials last month after it emerged that two of its leading members, Vahan Hovannisian and Levon Mkrtchian, could be appointed by President Serzh Sarkisian as Armenian ambassadors abroad. Hovannisian confirmed on September 2 that he received and accepted such an offer. But he denied media speculation that this might have been the result of a secret power-sharing deal cut by the government and the nationalist party.
“Any change in relations between Dashnaktsutyun and the authorities can only result from a political change of government. We will never change,” Hovannisian insisted at a news conference on Friday. He said he has agreed to take up the ambassadorial position in an unspecified foreign state only “for the sake of the Republic of Armenia.”
Dashnaktsutyun was represented in Sarkisian’s cabinet by three ministers until April 2009. It pulled out of the ruling coalition in protest against Sarkisian’s policy of rapprochement with Turkey. The party has since been especially critical of Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, repeatedly demanding his resignation.
Hovannisian said that he has no problem with working under Nalbandian’s supervision. He claimed that he will not hesitate to criticize the minister in an ambassadorial capacity if he disagrees with the latter’s policies.
Dashnaktsutyun, which holds 5 seats in the 131-member Armenian parliament, now openly backs the Sarkisian administration on at least one major foreign policy issue: Armenia’s membership in a Russian-led customs union.