Armenagan-Democratic Party Stands for Calm, Strength

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By Marieta Khachatryan

YEREVAN — “We cannot aspire to power, we haven’t aspired to power either, because we haven’t been in power, and I don’t think that we will be in power in the near future. We haven’t been radical opposition and we won’t be either; rather, we will act and speak out in opposition regarding those issues, in which the executive authorities are deficient or are in error, and we will encourage, support all those undertakings in which the authorities are acting correctly, effectively, in the interest of our people. We are a party inclined toward the government; we are a party of calm strength, and will remain as such.”

These thoughts were expressed by Hagop Avedikian, member of the executive committee of the Armenagan-Ramgavar Liberal Party chairman, during the ceremony of the unifying convention of the Armenagan-Ramgavar Liberal Party, which was held on October 3 in the Arno Babajanian Philharmonic Hall. Present at that convention were numerous delegates from the diaspora, representatives from different districts of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (Canada, USA, Great Britain, France, Lebanon, Switzerland and other countries), representatives of the parliamentary coalition and non-parliamentary parties of the Republic of Armenia.

Before that, party Vice Chairman Armen Manvelyan had announced the opening of the unifying convention. Bishop Ararat Galtakchyan, Grand Sacristan of the Mother See, had performed the opening prayer.

President Serge Sargisian had also welcomed the convention with his message, in which he noted that the ADL, with its prudent, balanced, practical and patriotic policy in Armenian life for more than a century, had occupied a unique place in the Armenian national-political scene, especially since its return to the homeland and activities in the country’s political landscape. Reflecting on the turbulent events of the recent past, Sargisian was full of hope that following this unifying convention, the Ramgavars would be able to work in unity, in a cohesive manner and with a spirit of unanimity, thereby restoring the vision of this esteemed party.

“We have a lot of work to do together in the name of the state, the people and their unity,” the president said in his message.

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The ADL patriarch, former editor of various party organs Dr. Nubar Berberian (Boston) delivered a heartfelt message directed to the convention’s participants, while Prof. Arshavir Gundjian, longtime chairman of ADL’s Central Committee, reflected on the situation created within the ADL. He mentioned the finest representatives from the party’s past — Vahan Tekeyan, Arshag Chobanian, Kersam Aharonian, Parounag Tovmasian, Haigashen Ouzounian, Hratchia Setrakian — and then the current individuals who are continuing in the patriotic path of their predecessors — Dr. Nubar Berberian, Yervant Azadian, Hagop Avedikian and others. “During the course of its existence, the ADL has waged a heroic struggle to maintain ties with the Motherland and the Mother See. There are many who have hampered that operation but we have succeeded in maintaining and developing that bond; and history has proved the veracity of that national policy of ours,” Gundjian pointed out.

Again turning to the address of Avedikian, who was elected chairman of the Armenagan-Ramgavar Liberal Party yesterday, mentioned that despite numerous attempts, a fourth political party wasn’t created in the diaspora during the past 90 years; rather, the three traditional parties remained. This demonstrates not only the traditionalist stance of the Diaspora Armenians but also the fact that the political field is saturated and remains so. “As far as the return of our party to the Motherland in the 1990s is concerned, the regeneration of the ADL, the Tekeyan Cultural Association, the Azg newspaper and, subsequently, the Tekeyan Center on Armenia’s soil was the result of utmost enthusiasm, utmost devotion,” he said, recalling that the ADL became one of six political parties to sign the declaration proclaiming Armenia’s independence. He also recalled the fissures in the ADL, starting from one that occurred during the years of the Pan-Armenian National Movement and continuing down to those brought about by different individuals and the party’s defeat in the 2003 parliamentary elections.

“The Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, which had the second largest group of deputies in the National Assembly, espoused decidedly oppositionist positions. The ADL was subsequently defeated in the elections of 2003, when it was optimally prepared; it had more than 8,000 members, approximately 80 party structures; it had its offices in various cities, parallel with the central office in Yerevan; and it had waged a marvelous campaign. Probably the reason was that the elections, the electoral college, unfortunately had been rendered into an exchange, a market for financial and economic transactions, for which our party wasn’t ready…Then, taking advantage of the atmosphere of disappointment that followed that defeat, a few rogues took control of the party and the undermining activity began full scale. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they had at least accomplished something. The dissolution spread to all regions, among themselves; they neutralized each other, leaving just one rogue, the most ignorant and the most unmannerly, who continues to disparage the party.” As a result of all that, the Ramgavars did not take part in three successive state elections.

Avedikian came to the forefront of a group of faithful Ramgavars, headed by members of the old guard. On May 20, 2009, he undertook the re-creation of the party in Armenia, calling it the Armenagan-Ramgavar Liberal Party, not only to respect the letter of the corresponding Republic of Armenia’s law, but also to return to the party’s roots. This initiative was warmly received by all the former, deactivated and demoralized veterans; in just three months’ time, the party already has 16-17 chapters in Yerevan and the provinces of Armenia. In explaining the purposes of the unification,  Avedikian pointed out the necessity of modernizing the party’s activity, implementing the institutional practices of contemporary European political parties. He also noted the prospect of establishing the central office here and making the field wide open to the youth.

The convention welcomed the representatives of the coalition parties. While Astghik Gevorkyan, president of the Journalists’ Union, stressed their remarks, one word had remained in her consciousness: unification. That unification is taking place just at the right time, since it is very necessary for our people today, more than ever before, she said.

Vazgen Manukyan, National Democratic Union Party chairman, next addressed the attendees. “You have a great history, you’ve traveled a long road…and you still have a long road to travel. It is characteristic that this development is being pursued at the time when a new state of affairs is beginning between Armenia and Turkey…we are standing before a simple road, and that road demands not only unity, that we not forget our roots, that we pursue those issues that we were pursuing up till now; furthermore, in this new state of affairs, let us benefit from the new advantages provided by this state of affairs and also to confront those issues that we are bound to face. We need not only unity but also new quality,” he said, adding that he knew many of the participants and was confident that those individuals could ensure stature for the party.

Galust Sahakyan, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Armenia, observed that the name itself, Armenagan, harkens back to the party’s roots, to emerge on the field of events with more inspiration and daring, and become the pioneer for today’s issues. “Your existence makes it possible for society and all of us to revitalize our blood,” he said. He added that the Republican Party of Armenia is a conciliatory, unifying party.

Aram Safaryan, representing the Prosperous Armenia Party, noted that his party is a political force that professes liberal values in economics and promotes traditional values in the public sphere. “In this realm, we are ready to cooperate with the Armenagan-ADL Party, in terms of solving problems of pan-national importance,” he said, in dictating two paths of cooperation: internal policy and Genocide recognition.

Paruyr Hayrikyan, founding chairman of the National Self-Determination Union, greatly stressed his participation in a convention that is bound to promote national unity. “We are participants in two natural, regular activities: one is that unification is taking place in Armenia, which has an inordinate number of political parties; and second, the political parties are working within the state; a political party can’t be outside of it.”

Comments
•Dr. Haroutiun Arzoumanian, president of the Executive Committee of Tekeyan Cultural Association, US and Canada: “This is a historic day, not only for the party and Tekeyan circles, but also for the Armenian people as a whole because, as you saw in everybody’s remarks, this is a rebirth, a return to roots all the way back to the Armenagan Party, which was the first Armenian political party, founded in 1885. This movement will surely unify the powerful moral force that these parties have had in the past; it is the recreation of balance and righteousness that will take place. My practical expectation is to synthesize our activities in the diaspora and Armenia on behalf of our people. As it is, this has always been our motto, but difficulties, disagreements occurred internally and, to some extent, externally in the past 10-15 years or so. We hope that the prior accord will be recreated from this day on, and we will overcome the previous difficulties.”

•Hagop Vartivarian: “We were waiting for this day to come and it did so, and I’m certain that this organization will make its positive contribution within our structures in Armenia and, particularly, in our diasporan structures. We wish everyone success and good luck.”

•Edmond Y. Azadian: “I wish to say that today I am proud of this unifying event, for which we have fought for a long time, both in Armenia and in the diaspora. Today this struggle has reached fruition. I shall face the future with self-confidence. Today, much was said about our roots, our history and our accomplishments, but all that justifies us to be a party of today, a modern organization, more united and in pursuit of more practical goals than principles, dreams, which have their place too, but our people are very much linked to theoretical or illusory propositions; we have always been a party of action, practicality and I wish for our future to be characterized by that.”

(Translated by Aris G. Sevag)