By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) is dissatisfied with the government’s decision not to change Armenia’s national anthem for now and will push for a special law perpetuating the song's official status, a senior member of the ruling party said on Friday.
The government decided on Thursday to scrap its controversial contest for a new anthem and keep the existing one in force for at least one more year after strong protests from Dashnaktsutyun.
The “Mer Hayrenik” (Our Fatherland) song was the official anthem of a short-lived independent Armenian republic that was founded and governed by Dashnaktsutyun from 1918-1920. The nationalist party regards it as a key symbol of Armenian statehood, dismissing complaints about its simple theme voiced by some prominent politicians and artists.
Dashnaktsutyun, which has four ministers in the government, stepped up its opposition to the proposed change after that President Robert Kocharian left indications that he would like to restore Soviet Armenia’s anthem with different lyrics that would no longer glorify Communist rule. Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and other members of his Republican Party (HHK) also voiced serious misgivings about the idea.
It emerged on Friday that all four Dashnaktsutyun ministers rejected the government’s compromise solution, insisting that no time limits be placed on official use of “Mer Hayrenik.” Gegham Manukian, a Dashnaktsutyun lawmaker, said the party will submit a corresponding bill to the National Assembly. “What happened yesterday once again showed that the Dashnaktsutyun proposal stemmed from public demand,” he said.
Galust Sahakian, the HHK’s parliamentary leader, welcomed the government’s decision, but hinted that the current anthem will not be scrapped in the foreseeable future. “I think the matter won’t be solved within a year,” Sahakian said. “We should delay a decision until there is public demand [in a new anthem.]”