BY VARAK KETSEMANIAN
From The Armenian Weekly
In a recent interview on the “Yerkrin Hartse” television program in Armenia, Hrant Markarian, the chairperson of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau, presented the ARF’s stance on various issues concerning the Armenian Republic today.
Since Sept. 3, he said, when Armenia decided to join the Russian-led Custom’s Union, most of the discussions and debates in the country have revolved around this issue. The public reaction against the move has been strong, since it was seen as an unexpected and unusual declaration by the government.
It is not a secret, Markarian explained, that our defense structure is based on a Russian system. This is why changing it will require a lot of time. This problem is independent of our will, he said. However, if we take into consideration that the main problem in Armenia is that of energy, we can easily see which possibility or option is in our best interest. Thus, our position is not driven by our desire; we must take into consideration what is possible. If we are to consider this issue from a sentimental perspective, and ignore the fact that we are still in a war, or ignore the geographical location of Armenia and the features of our defense system, it would be easy to choose Europe over Russia. But addressing this problem from such a viewpoint is wrong. The primary concern for us is not the sentimental aspect of the problem, but rather the responsibility with which we should deal with it. Yet, he went on, the shortcoming of this decision was the fact that the Armenian authorities did not create possibilities for establishing a unified government position on this issue, which is why the public and the other political parties were all surprised.
Regarding the negotiations with the European Union, Markarian stated that the whole process was not useless. Adopting European values and making our country conform to them is the main goal that we should pursue, he said. In other words, we must seek European values without necessarily joining the European Union. We believe in the right of the people to choose their representatives, he explained, and therefore we do not need the intervention of the Europeans in establishing democracy in Armenia. By not refusing Europe completely on the one hand, and choosing the Russian direction on the other, we have brought relief to our people, soldiers, and army, he said.
Markarian also talked about Armenian foreign policy and explained that while the ARF’s problem with the Armenian authorities is internal, it shouldn’t come at the expense of Karabagh, or the right of future generations, or the campaign for genocide recognition. That which strengthens our state and economy must not be a victim in this internal conflict, he underscored. Regarding ARF Bureau member Vahan Hovhannesian’s ambassadorship, Markarian made it clear that it does not mean the ARF is sympathetic to the foreign policy of Armenia; rather, Hovhannesian was the best candidate they had. Markarian believes that this is a positive if rare move on the part of the authorities, for the ARF, and for Hovhannesian himself. He made it clear that Hovhanessian is the kind of political figure who would resign immediately if he were made to work against his principles and beliefs.
Markarian stated that Hovhannesian will be sent to Germany, and that he is looking forward to the strengthening of Armenian-German relations, especially before the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, which would counter-balance the Turkish lobby there. The Armenian authorities assigned a political mission to Hovhannesian, he said.
He concluded by emphasizing that just because the ARF opposes the current president of Armenia, it does not prevent the party from accepting offers that would benefit the Republic in general. The ARF clearly differentiates where the homeland begins and where the government does, and where statehood and homeland end, he said.