YEREVAN (ARF Press)—On November 26, 2018, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, ARF, officially kicked off its parliamentary election campaign in Yerevan. The event took place near the statue of Aram Manukian, the founder of the Republic of Armenia in 1918, with the slogan “Faithful to our land and to Armenians.”
Gegham Manukyan, a candidate of the ARF proportional and district list, mentioned in his speech that the campaign kickoff began at Aram Manukian’s statue to always remain accountable to Aram Manukian, who founded this republic a 100 years ago. “Today, the ARF uses the same ideological principles and continues to say that the ARF is faithful to the land and to Armenians: that land which is a portion of land that in 1915 Aram Manukian defended in Van (Western Armenia), that land, whose other portion, Artsakh, was protected by the fedayees, and another portion of land, that is called Javakhk. The land that we dream about must be protected,” said Manukyan. He also mentioned that these elections are different due to a very important circumstance: the hope that they will pass in a correct manner without corruption or bribes. But, Manukyan also wondered if they will include a diversity of programs and ideologies?
“We are calling on all political parties and alliances formed for these elections, starting from Prime Minister Pashinyan to the newly formed political parties, to participate in the election campaigns by presenting your programs and ideologies. Do not only use the people’s movement as a flag in order to move forward, arrogantly. That will make us approach a dangerous line, a red line,” said Manukyan.
“Today is the first day of the campaign, ‘My Step’ alliance member Sasun Mikayelyan gave himself permission to categorize the April-May people’s as movement more important than the movement that started a few decades ago, a powerful national liberation struggle, that we call Artsakh. Sasun Mikayelyan either did not understand what he was saying or was trying to belittle Artsakh’s heroic battles. Certainly, he can justify by saying he has participated in the Artsakh liberation war, but many have taken part in the volunteer activities starting with the former president of the Yerkrapah Volunteer Union to the volunteers. But the important thing is to keep that spirit. Let’s hope that Sasun Mikayelyan simply misspoke. Because it’s time to move forward with principles and ideologies,” concluded Manukyan.
The revolution does not begin with the coming of power, it begins after the coming of power.
During the event, Armen Rustamyan, ARF Bureau member and political representative, addressed the rally. “Indeed, this place is compelling. With this, the ARF campaign that is starting by Aram Manukian’s statue obliges us all to speak with the people sincerely and honestly, to present our thoughts, our assessments of the situation, as well as our actions.”
Rustamyan went on to say that the ARF is participating in these important elections because Armenia, which is in a critical transition period, faces serious dangers and challenges. The main danger is not to repeat the past. The danger is real, because for all types of political parties, and the current regime is not an exception, the temptation is always great – to come to power, replacing old political and economic monopolies with new ones. There are already signs of this. Although it is announced that all promises have been completed, the super-prime ministerial system of government has not been eliminated yet. Moreover, there is no guarantee that it will not be replaced by a super-presidential system.”
“The same faces remain, but it is announced that there are no longer any oligarchs, maybe due to the reason that they have already become their own,” remarked Rustamyan. In the economic sphere, the same subjects have maintained their dominant positions, but it turns out that there are no monopolies anymore, perhaps because they demonstrate the willingness to serve the new government officials, continued Rustamyan.
“Finally, we have seen from the ’90s, how it is possible to manipulate over 80 percent of the people by exploiting the people’s confidence to serve their own power, deviate from national goals and dissipate the national awakening and standing in danger of losing Artsakh’s victory. We have no right to take our people through the same trials and tribulations. That is why the ARF has decided to participate in these elections. The main challenges are to go from a conscious rejection to success.”
“That, which has existed as a fact until today, is, in essence, an actual change of the regime, but not a full-fledged revolution. The revolution is still ahead. The revolution does not begin with the coming of power, it begins after the coming of power. The revolution will be complete when positive shifts will be felt in everybody’s everyday life, when no poor Armenian will remain in our country, when people will not appointed through nepotism, but for their merit, capabilities, and ability to do work. When will we have a truly just Armenia?
“During the past elections, it was not by chance that the ARF participated using the slogan ‘A new beginning, a just Armenia.’ The new beginning was put based on the new parliamentary system, and the first attempt was successful. Immediately after transitioning to the parliamentary system, the bloodless change of the prime minister took place, which was truly unprecedented in our newly independent history. It remains to us that this new beginning brings us to a just Armenia. It is for this reason that the ARF has decided to participate in these elections. The ARF will participate in the elections in accordance with its national, socialist, democratic and revolutionary principles and mission. Faithful to our enduring and endless values. Faithful to the land and to Armenians,” concluded Rustamyan.
ARF Supreme Council of Armenia representative Arsen Hambartsumyan noted during his speech that a principle of the campaign is that the ARF will win. And the slogan is unique to every ARF members essence.
“Our goal is to build a fair and powerful country for a free citizen. Build a free, independent and united Armenia. The ARF stands for the preservation of national values, without the development of concessions and social justice, “he emphasized, noting that the upcoming elections will predetermine the future of the country’s development.
“The forces participating in the elections are old and new. Compare and you will see that the ARF differs from everyone because we are not a party of one person, we have ideological and pragmatic principles. We are an independent political force,” said Hambardzumyan. “We must develop without compromising.”
Former Minister of Agriculture and ARF parliamentarian candidate Artur Khachatryan made a speech. He noted that “the ARF is a unique political party and essentially differs from other political structures, not only because it has branches in Armenia, Artsakh, and in the diaspora and has been with the people for 128 years, but also because the socio-economic picture of the party, the ideology, is leftist—socialist.”
“… The ARF is a unique political party and essentially differs from other political structures, not only because it has branches in Armenia, Artsakh, and in the diaspora and has been with the people for 128 years, but also because the socio-economic picture of the party, the ideology, is leftist—socialist… We find that a state cannot sit with its arms folded. It has a very important role to play in developing the country and the market.”
“We believe that the state plays an essential role in ensuring the country’s economic development. We do not believe that the market’s own hand can handle the market, to create a prosperous, just society, a society where everyone will get his merits and investment. We find that a state cannot sit with its arms folded. It has a very important role to play in developing the country and the market.” stated Khachatryan.
He also mentioned that the development of the country for the ARF is as important as social justice. According to Khachatryan, social justice is meant to distribute the social value created by the members of a society. Khachatryan said, “Tens of thousands of people are working day-by-day, but they get coins, and oligarchs, who are called the owners, pocket a significant part of their national value. And this principled position stems from our socio-economic policy. We demand progressive development, inclusive growth, social justice and sustainable development. We attach a crucial role to the state in the rapid economic growth. The state must take the role of the locomotive in economic development and from regulation, actively eradicate market failures and crises.”
Khachatryan continued by saying the state should be able to create jobs in state-private companies in the format of state-private partnership. If a private company is not being enticed to open jobs, the state must fill that gap in those areas where the private is afraid to enter. He also noted that the value created by the state should be distributed equally: currently people work, but they do not get their share of the income. “The fruits of economic growth are not fairly distributed. We have pensioners, unemployed people who receive salaries, people are have been working their entire lives, but their pensions do not even guarantee the basic necessities. Is that what we want? Of course not. We are talking about a solid society and we must guarantee that solidarity with our economic policies. Today’s society should also create the basis for the well-being of future generations, we must conduct the right health and educational policy. Today’s generation is also responsible for future generations, “said Khachatryan.
Armenuhi Kyureghyan, an ARF candidate for parliamentarian, touched upon the social programs of the ARF. According to her, the ARF considers one of the priorities of the social state as a requirement of a dignified life of every citizen. But,Gyureghyan noted that what is the current government offering? – a government who instead of creating jobs is threatening people with a loss of job if they do not vote.
“We have a proposal to increase the role of the state in the workplace, instead of unemployment, to create jobs. The ARF considers that the social state is obliged to have a job creation program for each citizen. Programs that will provide young people with jobs after the education system will include programs aimed at providing disabled people with jobs in quota, programs aimed at addressing key demographic issues, implementing measures to promote the birth of the next child, promoting immigration and preventing emigration, enhancing pensions and benefits “said Kyureghyan.
According to Kyureghyan, the people’s vote and confidence are needed to implement those programs.
Kyureghyan mentioned that they have always talked about the necessity of changing the governance system and despite having few mandates [parliamentarians] in the National Assembly and a few employees in the government were able to achieve that systematic change.
“By receiving more votes, we will definitely be able to implement social justice in the country, to contribute to the formation of a social state. Trust the ARF, the party that has never said something and done something else, and a party who is always consistent in moving ahead with its plans. Look at our lists and compare with other lists. We have a party that has included all the members of the government on its list as there are no other people. Look at their list and you will see that the same incapable team, who can not do anything today and instead of going out of the campaign through its programs, has come out of a black and white struggle since there is nothing to propose, “Kyureghyan said, adding that ARF offers specific programs and concrete solutions and a powerful team that will achieve all that.
Artsvik Minasyan, a candidate of the ARF parliamentarian proportional list, told those gathered at the campaign launched at Aram Manukyan’s statue, why they should elect Dashnaktsutyun. First, the ARF has a clear plan from the socio-economic to the nation, which is based on a clear-value system.
“Show at least 2 parties that meet this criterion. You will not find it, so do not waste your time. Parties now are created around a person and do not factor in the future of Armenia’s development. The ARF is not a party gathered around a person, but around an idea. Also, the ARF is a party that has come to existence from the people’s nation, born from the suffering of the nation. It is a people’s party, a party that is fighting against perversion and devastation of the traditional Armenian family. And finally, the ARF is every Armenian. Confidence in the ARF is a trust in our powerful country, a dignified Armenian,” Minasyan said.
The diaspora ARF has the respect of the people but not ARF Yerevan. The Yerevan trio is known to be loyal to those who robbed Hayrenik and the people. Now Rustamyan seems to be back with a vengence defending Tashnagtsutune. Where was he the past many years?Starting with speeches at Aram Manukian’s statue dishonors the founder. Does not motivate the good people. Had the founder been alive today he would not only have kicked the leaders out of ARF Yerevan, but also set new rules to fight along with the people who are bravely fighting the gangsters and their supporters. Not against them.
For many Armenians in the diaspora, it is sad to see the lack of credibility of the ARF in Armenia. The ARF should be credited with keeping the spirit of Armenian nationalism alive in the diaspora from the post 1st Republic period until the 1990’s. You would expect some transference of support into Armenia especially with the active role they played in the Artsakh struggle. Unfortunately , the ARF in Armenia made decisions to join the corrupt government thinking they could make change with inside power. I still believe the ARF with its community organizing experience is at its best in a populist role. There was an opportunity to lead Armenia as an opposition group. There role now would have been much different today and more influential. It seems that time has now passed.
Dialogue on this matter will continue as peope care and are frustrated.
We can only hope that fresh faces, lessened corruption and a more positive and engaged population ( especially our talented youth ) will bring day to day change and better life in our Homeland.
I am not sure that the people have the respect (or awareness) of diaspora ARF–reference to H’s thought
Why would youth in the republic relate to ARF in other countries ?
As is so visible after all these years of independence, ARF platform has not evolved. ARF focus is continually tied to the past and the youth in Armenia care more about today and the future than pages of history.
There is no ARF theme of connection to “today”. ARF is cemented in 1918.
Some have cried out for leadership change but the real change has to come with a change in ARF’s DNA /thought process and not change in personalities.
Stepan’s conclusion of ARF’s time having past is most appropriate.