(armenianweekly.com) YEREVAN — Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun (ARF-D) Bureau member and head of the party’s political affairs Armen Rustamyan said that risking the party’s approval rating by co-operating 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-D 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-D cannot be a bystander in this process. This is what has prompted us to enter a new phase of co-operation [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-D will go ahead with this process because it believes it’s the right thing for the country,” Rustamyan told reporters.
When asked about the party’s willingness to work with the ruling regime, Rustamyan said that the ARF-D is willing to risk its approval rating by co-operating with the ruling party rather than lose the country. “If the government is discredited, than 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 [the ARF-D’s] 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-D 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 co-operation is the only way the ARF is able to make serious change in Armenia. “We [the ARF-D] 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-D’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-D must take part in that process instead of pressuring from outside, which experience has shown is ineffective,” Rustamayan said.
Rustamyan was also asked if the ARF-D will be entering a political coalition with the RPA, to which he answered that conversations with the government have been strictly about co-operation, and that coalitions will only have true meaning after 2017. “As of yet, there is no talk about a coalition, only co-operation. 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 co-operation for now, as we examine the degree and form of that co-operation,” he said.
The head of the party’s political affairs was also pressed about rumors that the ARF-D was in negotiations about certain ministerial positions. “These rumors spread by the media about the debate over portfolios is unacceptable for the ARF-D. We [the ARF-D] 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” he said.