YEREVAN (A.W.)—Armen Rustamyan, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau member and head of the party’s political affairs, has said that risking the party’s approval rating by cooperating with the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) is a better price to pay than losing the country. Speaking to reporters on Feb. 1, Rustamyan stressed that since the ARF supported Armenia’s new constitution, it must now take part in its implementation, to ensure internal stability and development in the country.
“This new constitution has opened a new page for our country and will breathe new life into Armenia. The ARF cannot be a bystander in this process. This is what has prompted us to enter a new phase of cooperation [with the government]. We understand well that many will not understand this—they will criticize the party for this, as they have in the past—but the ARF will go ahead with this process because it believes it’s the right thing for the country,” Rustamyan told reporters.
“If the government is discredited, then that is a problem for all of us. [There is this approach that] if they’re discredited, let them stay discredited. However, that discredited [political] power is ruling [the country] today.”
“Our cooperation [with the government] is only a tool; we are focused on solving the country’s problems. There are serious challenges in this country that must be overcome. To accomplish this, the ARF is ready to sacrifice everything—even its approval rating,” said Rustamyan.
“If we do not change this [political] system, then everything will remain the same. We want to change this country for the better,” Rustamyan said, adding that cooperation is the only way the ARF will be able to make serious change in Armenia. “We have been a part of the opposition. We joined the [opposition] quartet [with the Heritage Party, the Armenian National Congress (ANC), and the Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP)]. Unfortunately, the other opposition forces did not stay on course with the ARF’s proposals. We are convinced that if they had, many of this country’s problems could have been solved by now,” he said.
“At least 10-15 laws of critical importance and more than 400 changes to existing laws stem from the new constitution. In order to have a say in the implementation of these laws, the ARF must take part in that process instead of pressuring from outside, which experience has shown is ineffective.”
Rustamyan was also asked if the ARF will be entering into a political coalition with the RPA. Conversations with the government, he replied, have been strictly about cooperation, and coalitions will only have true meaning after 2017. “As of yet, there is no talk about a coalition, only cooperation. Even if we were talking about a coalition government, it wouldn’t have true meaning under the [current] presidential system of government, in which the president of the republic has extensive powers. Since we are still working under the old constitution, we can only talk about cooperation for now, as we examine the degree and form of that cooperation,” he said.
The head of the party’s political affairs was also pressed about rumors that the ARF was in negotiations over certain ministerial positions. “These rumors spread by the media about the debate over portfolios is unacceptable for the ARF. We are not in a struggle for [ministerial] positions. We want to solve the important issues,” Rustamyan said. He added that the number of ministers a party has in the government means little. “Your party can hold all the ministerial portfolios, but if the president is not from your party, you are not in a ruling position.”