ASBAREZ Online [04-05-2004]


1) ARF Body Calls for Dialogue, Outlines Proposal to Defuse Crisis
2) Opposition Rejects ARF Call for Negotiations, Seeks Regime Change

1) ARF Body Calls for Dialogue, Outlines Proposal to Defuse Crisis

YEREVAN (YERKIR)As political tension sharply escalated in Yerevan between the
government and the opposition, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s Supreme
Body of Armenia issued a statement during a news conference on Monday.

The following is the full text of that ARF statement.

The internal political tension in the Republic is approaching the brink of
outright confrontation. Further escalation may result in destabilizing the
country, undermining the authority and credibility of the state, and impeding
the normal process of the country’s development. Public resentment stemming
from socioeconomic problems is being politically exploited with the aim of
bringing about a political crisis to attain a swift change of power.

The tactic of creating political instability and an environment of
leads to unacceptable internal political relations.

At the core of the current political tension lies, on the one hand, the
opposition’s intolerance and extremism and its modus operandi of rejecting the
legitimacy of the authorities, which leads to political disobedienceand, on
other hand, the [authorities’] failure to secure the full participation of the
opposition in resolving the issues that are critical to the development of the

The real reasons for the current discontent are the persistent, grim social
conditions and the low level of efficiency in resolving those critical issues.
The ARF fully recognizes and acknowledges the extent of its share of
responsibility in this matter.

Today we confront the imperative of preventing that potential confrontation,
and the best means of doing so is to reach a political agreement. An
of the need to jointly tackle the critical issues vital to the welfare of the
people, and a willingness to do so, must form the basis of that agreement. The
possibility of reaching that agreement can be ensured only if there is the
willingness to reach a commonality of goals, guarantee the resolution of
critical issues and obtain the opposition’s active participation in those
efforts, and to meet each other halfway.

Taking into account the complexity of internal political relations and the
degree of mutual exclusion among the various positions, we propose a possible
mechanism for reaching an agreement.

It is necessary to initiate dialogue regarding the prospect of reaching an
agreement, but each side must refrain from issuing demands that are a priori
inadmissible and unacceptable to the other side. It is necessary to abstain
from dividing society into allies and enemies, and to avoid taking actions
risk bringing about clashes.

Dialogue in accordance with the following principles might be productive:
Armenia’s Constitution and laws should form the legal basis of the dialogue;
the actions of the sides should fall strictly within the limits of the law and
constitutional order.

In this process, both sides should moderate their views.

The dialogue must not bring about winners and losers: either we shall all
ensuring the rapid and stable development of the country, or we shall all
reaping the devastating consequences of confrontation and civil conflict.

The objective of ensuring real and guaranteed reforms in the life of the
country and its people might form the substance of the agreement, which would
include the following priority issues:

The formation of an electoral system that entirely meets international

Constitutional reforms that strengthen democratic mechanisms

A comprehensive fight against corruption, the shadow economy, and the system
of clans

Ensuring the proper level of opposition involvement is an important guarantee
of the agreement’s effectual implementation. That may mean including the
opposition in the Security Council and the fight against corruption,
delineating possibilities of adopting the constitutional and electoral reforms
through consensus, and resorting to various other options and solutions,
depending on the extent of the agreement.

Efficient use of the present moment is necessary for achieving voluntary
mutual concessions. Otherwise, full responsibility for any clashes that occur
will fall squarely on the shoulders of those who allowed to slip away an
opportune occasion for reaching agreement. Subsequent developments will, in
event, compel the political forces to make involuntary concessions, with all
their attendant consequences.

The political coalition should be the guarantor of, and responsible for, the
establishment of dialogue and agreement.

The ARF resolutely rejects any action that might thrust the country into
unpredictable external or internal consequences, thus condemning the people to
an uncertain future; it steadfastly stands for the upholding of the legal and
constitutional order; and it is prepared to back all constructive initiatives
aimed at achieving guaranteed political reforms and civil accord.

2) Opposition Rejects ARF Call for Negotiations, Seeks Regime Change

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)Armenia’s two main opposition groups announced
Monday that their long-anticipated joint campaign to topple President Robert
Kocharian will get underway this Friday.
The leader of the Artarutyun (Justice) bloc Stepan Demirchian, and the leader
of the National Unity Party Artashes Geghamian, together vowed to join forces
and “restore constitutional order in Armenia.” They issued a declaration
opposition supporters to take to the streets of Yerevan, calling for the
removal of President Kocharian.
Both Demirchian and Geghamian told reporters on Monday that starting April 9
they will launch “mass protest actions,” to ensure the “departure of the
illegitimate regime,” and rejected a call on Monday by the Armenian
Revolutionary Federation to engage in dialogue to diffuse the tension.
Demirchian said that a referendum of confidence in President Kocharian is the
only pre-condition for engaging in dialogue.
The two leaders refused to disclose details of the planned protests, saying
that they want to keep the authorities guessing about their tactics. It thus
remained unclear whether Friday’s rally will be an ordinary one or will
continue “day and night” as was promised by some Artarutyun leaders. Nor is it
known how the opposition will respond if the authorities block the city’s main
square and the street leading to Kocharian’s official residence.
The Office of Prosecutor-General confirmed on Monday reports that Suren
Sureniants of the Hanrabedutyun party, a leading Artarutyun force, was
the previous night in connection with an official criminal investigation into
the ongoing opposition rallies held across the country. Officials there said
that no charges have been brought against him yet.
Demirchian claimed that not only had Sureniants been arrested, but also the
head of the opposition Nor Jhamanak party Aram Karapetyan, who a few hours
later, said that he, in fact, had not been apprehended, but that a cousin
and a
leader of his party Samvel Khatchatrian had.
The prosecutors claim that the opposition protests, launched by Artarutyun
the National Unity Party in February, are accompanied by calls for a “violent
overthrow” of the ruling regime and offensive language directed at senior
government officials.

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