Growing up: political dialogue is happening in Armenia

Levon Zurabyan and Davit Harutyunyan

Representatives of Armenia’s ruling coalition and the main opposition force Armenian National Congress (HAK) met on Monday for initial talks, after which the sides expressed readiness to continue with the difficult political dialogue, which could lay the groundwork for a new, more democratic political culture in Armenia.

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Guest post: an evolving relationship between Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun

Leading ARF Dashnaktsutyun member Vahan Hovhannisian (L) talks to Zharangutyun (Heritage) leader Raffi Hovhannisian, undatedLeading ARF Dashnaktsutyun member Vahan Hovhannisian (L) talks to Zharangutyun (Heritage) leader Raffi Hovhannisian, undated

Armenia -- Leading ARF Dashnaktsutyun member Vahan Hovhannisian (L) talks to Zharangutyun (Heritage) leader Raffi Hovhannisian who has staged a hunger strike in Liberty square, Yerevan, March 2011

In the midst of all of the news regarding Raffi Hovannisyan’s hunger strike, the evolving relationship between Hovannisyan and the ARF, especially the Diasporan portion of the ARF, caught my attention. Continue reading

Dashnaktsutyun Observes Genocide Vigil

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As hundreds of Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF-Dashnaktsutyun) supporters start the traditional procession with lanterns in the center of Yerevan to observe vigil the evening before official Genocide rememberence day, the question remains – will the party opt out of the ruling coalition over Armenian – Turkish – Swiss announcement on normalisation of relations released April 22nd? Continue reading

Big challanges to be faced by the new coalition government

Five out of seventeen ministerial posts have already been appointed, only two of which are new faces:   Foreign minister Eduard Nalbandian, former ambassador to France, and Defense minister Seyran Ohanian, the former head of armed forces. Three ministers retained the positions they held in the outgoing government. Gevorg Danielian (Republican Party) will stay on as justice minister, while Armen Grigorian (Prosperous Armenia) will continue as minister of sport and youth affairs and David Lokian (Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun) as agriculture minister. Interestingly, as this ArmeniaNow analyses points out, despite the landslide victory achieved by the Republicans in 2007 parliamentary elections, the government formed after the elections was a coalition one.

When the non-partisan head of Central Bank Tigran Sargsyan was appointed Premier, after Serzh Sargsyan’s 53% victory, disputed as it may be, it seemed for a moment, that leaning on heavy Republican majority in Parliament and control over the executive branch, Serzh Sargsyan might attempt to form a merit based, professional government. Still, the developments are indicating the opposite. So far the weight of coalition is prevailing, and it seems more coalition appointments are to be expected.

While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I find it strange, that four political forces, with distincltly different political agendas are working in a coalition government. Moreover, with Republicans being strong enough to rule on their own, it is clear, that their political line will be dictating everything, so it looks, as though Bargavach Hayastan, ARF-Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir party won’t be able to push any of their appraches through, and have joined the government only to retain some administrative levers and ensure better life for some of their top party officials.

Meanwhile, the new government faces the challanges of strengthening its legitimacy in Armenia and restoring country’s image in the international community. “The Monitoring Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on April 17 urging the Armenian authorities to implement a number of reforms aimed at improving the situation in the country. PACE suggests launching an independent inquiry into the clashes, releasing all prisoners who did not commit crimes, amending the law on public rallies, and engaging in a dialogue with the opposition. PACE warns that, unless those conditions are met, it will consider suspending the voting rights of Armenia during its next session, which takes place in June.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)

The expected sharp rise of prices following the rise of natural gas price doesn’t help much with raising the government’s profile. Instead, it gives the opposition more facts to build their struggle – which has been generally a destructive one so far. Seems like the internal situation will remain tense over the next month or two, possibly with the influence of opposition gradually declining, although – if the government keeps the policies observed over the past week – price-rises, which should have been avoided at all costs in this tentative and tense political period, we might just as well see the opposite.

No changes are expected in the foreign policy sphere either. “In his first major foreign-policy speech on April 16, Armenia’s president was uncompromising. “Azerbaijan must understand the simple reality that the existence of the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is irreversible,”Sarkisian said. “The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have won their right to a free and independent life. And through our efforts, that right must be recognized by the international community.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)

For all the optimists out there – gather as much of it as you can, ‘couse looks like you will badly need it.