The opening of the 34th World Congress of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) occurred on Monday, February 28th at the Ani Plaza Hotel in Yerevan, the first such assembly since the 2020 Artsakh War. More than 100 representatives and invited guests are attending from 28 regions worldwide.
On the eve of the assembly, members of the ARF, led by members of the ARF Bureau and the ARF Supreme Body of Armenia, visited the Yerablur Military Pantheon and laid flowers on the graves of martyred soldiers from the 2020 war.
The assembly opened with the singing of the Armenian, Artsakh and ARF anthems, followed by the invocation offered by His Eminence Archbishop Nathan Hovhannisyan, who also conveyed the blessings and greetings from His Holiness, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II. ARF Bureau chair Hagop Der Khachadourian offered remarks, as did National Assembly vice president and chair of the ARF Supreme Body of Armenia Ishkhan Saghatelyan.
At the start of his remarks, Der Khachadourian outlined the difficulties facing Armenia, Artsakh and the global Armenian community.
“We face new challenges today, because the defeated leadership of Armenia, which is devoid of national ideology and has proven its inability to defend national interests, is in continual retreat on the international stage, and prepared for all kinds of concessions,” he said.
The World Congress will define the political strategy of the ARF and the directions and activities of Hai Tahd for the coming four years. The agenda of the ARF will be shaped according to a set of core convictions, including the belief in the Artsakh issue as critical to the Armenian cause and statehood, the strengthening of homeland-diaspora unity with Armenia and Artsakh at its core, nation-building through patriotic cooperation, the restoration of a strong Armenian military, and the promotion of the socioeconomic status of vulnerable populations, according to Der Khachadourian.
“Strengthening the unity of our people is especially important these days, when the serious conflict between Russia and the West over Ukraine has created an explosive situation worldwide, which may have an impact for the South Caucasus by intensifying the Turkish-Azerbaijani appetite towards Armenia and Artsakh,” Der Khachadourian said.
Saghatelyan listed historic decisions that have been made at previous assemblies, including the declaration of the First Republic of Armenia in 1919, the adoption of Operation Nemesis, and the adoption of the slogan “Tebi Yerkir” in 1988. He reminded attendees that the previous ARF World Congress in January 2019 was held in the capital of Artsakh, Stepanakert.
In enumerating the failures of the current Armenian leadership, Saghatelyan said that the process of normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations must be stopped. The negotiations will end in the concession of Armenian interests and the collapse of Armenian statehood, since Turkey takes advantage of the process to fulfill Azerbaijan’s demands over Artsakh, according to Saghatelyan.
“Our country must have a national leadership that will stop the process of the collapse of statehood, secure the inviolability of the country’s borders and territorial integrity, establish a dignified peace, and turn Armenia into a dignified and prosperous country,” he said.