on the silk road

ARF Nominates Vahan Hovannesian for President
November 30, 2007, 5:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

YEREVAN (Asbarez)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s Armenia organization Friday held a special convention, during which ARF Bureau member and Vice Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Vahan Hovanessian was nominated as the party’s candidate for the upcoming presidential elections set for February 19.

      In a secret ballot vote, Hovannesian received 60 votes, and Armen Rustamian received 16 votes.

      Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian and other officials were present at the convention.

      ARF Supreme Body of Armenia said in a statement that 288,697 people participated in a public vote to gauge the public’s opinion on the ARF nominee. During the five-day vote, Hovannesian received 53 percent and Rustamian received 47 percent.

      Rustamian said that while the public vote results were non-binding, the people’s opinion was important.

      “We are sure that people today do not trust a regime change that leads only to change of individuals. The people are also tired of keeping the power as an end to itself that leads to merger of a party and the government or the government and the rulers,” Rustamian said. “People do not want either, because the choice would be between the bad and the worse.”

      In his acceptance speech Hovanessian raised problems existing in the system, but said solutions must not be expected from the former authorities that have been showing signs of activity lately.

      “We know them well and we haven’t forgotten anything. Having been in cooperation with the current authorities, we still feel we have enough experience and are ready to carry out these systemic changes ourselves,” Hovanessian said. “Why should the choice be made between the past and the present? We choose the future.”

      “We have been waiting for this election for years and decades,” said Hovanessian in his remarks. “We have fought for the day that we can fight as a nation and society.”

      He pointed to the importance of the rule of law in society. He said that this balance is upset in Armenia today, noting that it never existed here; neither in the past, nor during the Soviet rule or even during the Levon Ter-Petrosian period. He said it is important to form a political struggle because only that can help create a government based on the rule of law and morality.

      According to him, power has become superior to law in the country and “is so connected to the criminal world that it is now associated with meaningless faces, who have declared themselves the ‘authorities’ and try to use the state’s sponsorship to strengthen their positions.” The reason for this development, Havhanessian remarked, is that society has become accustomed to the idea that authority rests only on force and money rather than morality, knowledge and talent.

      False authority that exists today does not have an ideological goal and struggles only for power. In such a struggle only the bureaucratic machinery can win, he warned. This is especially dangerous if Armenia becomes an autocracy, because the bureaucratic machinery will merge with the ruling elite.

Since early 1990, the country has been governed by oligarchic clans, accumulating power and monopolizing the most profitable sectors of the economy, Hovanessian charged. This situation, has formed an environment almost devoid of competition.

These clans stopped being just an economic phenomenon a long time ago, he noted. Now, they have a decisive influence on all aspects of society. Spending considerable resources and using the huge administrative resources at their disposal, this stratum of society reproduces itself regularly, hindering the development of a just political system, Hovanessian added.

      In his opinion, neither the previous authorities nor the current ones can make changes in this system since it does not have roots in the country. The ARF, Hovanessian noted, is able and ready to make such changes and for this reason it is taking part in the presidential elections by nominating its own candidate.

      “This is the reason why the ARF is participating in the presidential elections with its own candidate,” Hovanessian said.

      “We are not alone in our determination. There are political forces and individuals who adhere to these principles. Together we can reach our goals,” Hovannesian added.

      “It turns out they did the good things in this country and bad things are ascribed to the rest,” Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Republican Party Serzh Sarkisian commented during the dinner break, but added: “Everything is normal, it is a political struggle.”

      “The most important thing is freedom. If there is freedom, we will lose everything,” said National-Democratic Union leader Vazgen Manukian, who was also among those attending, “I urge the ARF to go shoulder to shoulder and try to make changes in the country so that our people feel proud.”

      “Old friends must reunite,” he concluded, referring to the historic role of the ARF in the Armenian nation.


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