Armenia’s major opposition-leaning party led by tycoon Gagik Tsarukian has criticized the government over Thursday’s vote against a UN resolution reaffirming Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Unlike other opposition factions in the parliament the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) deems that by its stance on the resolution that also calls the referendum in Crimea that led to the peninsula’s annexation by Russia illegal Yerevan has put its international reputation at stake.
Armenia was among the few nations, including such admittedly rogue states as North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe and others, that opted to back Russia’s stance on the nonbinding document that was passed by a vote of 100 to 11, with 58 abstentions.
At one point before the vote observers considered it likely that Armenia would abstain after a source at the Foreign Ministry revealed it was an option.
But in an explanatory note disseminated immediately before the ballot at the UN General Assembly’s session Armenia’s representative to the UN Karen Nazarian said: “Armenia has consistently and over years taken a principled position on the promotion of democracy, freedoms and rights, including and in particular the equal rights and self-determination of peoples as universal values and principles, embraced by this Assembly, based on the UN Charter.”
BHK parliamentary faction member Stepan Markarian told a news briefing at the National Assembly on Friday that by voting against the resolution Armenia did not particularly help Russia. “But I am sure we’ve damaged our international reputation,” he said. “Our representative explained that problems are not solved with resolutions. But what are they solved with in that case?”
The BHK believes that Armenia should have abstained during the vote as in that case it would be among the nations that support a peaceful solution to the problem of Crimea.
Another senior BHK member Vartan Oskanian also issued a statement today, criticizing Armenia for its stance during the UN vote. Oskanian, who served as Armenia’s foreign minister in 1998-2008, also argued that abstaining in the vote would have been the right option for the nation.
Oskanian believes Armenia should have had the foresight to avoid appearing in the neighborhood of countries with rogue regimes.
Another former foreign minister Alexander Arzumanian used even stronger terms to denounce Armenia’s behavior. In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) the opposition MP called the Armenian vote at the UN General Assembly a ‘disgrace’. He said it shows that Armenia continues to lose its sovereignty.
“It is unprecedented in the history of independent Armenia. We have never been such a slave before,” Arzumanian said.
Meanwhile, a senior member of the opposition Heritage party described Armenia’s vote at the UN as a position meeting the nation’s interests.
“It is my own opinion. I know that you may be surprised,” said Ruben Hakobian, head of the party’s faction in parliament. He explained that the nations that voted to uphold Ukraine’s territorial integrity have turned a blind eye to the problems of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Unlike Hakobian, Heritage party leader Raffi Hovannisian, addressing a rally in Yerevan on Friday, criticized the Armenian government for the “against” vote at the UN. He said that Armenia had options like abstaining or even not taking part in the vote altogether.
The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), meanwhile, stopped short of describing Armenia’s stance as wrong. HAK lawmaker Aram Manukian said that the option was actually “the lesser of two evils”.
Opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) also supported the position of Armenia on the Ukraine resolution. Dashnaktsutyun parliamentary faction leader Armen Rustamian voiced his conviction that Armenia could not be against the expression of the Crimean people’s will.
Head of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia’s parliamentary faction Galust Sahakian also emphasized that Armenia simply supported the right of peoples to self-determination. He denied any pressure from Russia over the matter. “Abstaining in the vote would mean that it remains a disputable matter to us,” Sahakian explained.