Markarian Discusses Customs Union, Hovannesian Ambassadorship

Hrant Markarian

From The Armenian Weekly

In a recent interview on the “Yerkrin Hartse” television program in Armenia, Hrant Markarian, the chairperson of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau, presented the ARF’s stance on various issues concerning the Armenian Republic today.

Since Sept. 3, he said, when Armenia decided to join the Russian-led Custom’s Union, most of the discussions and debates in the country have revolved around this issue. The public reaction against the move has been strong, since it was seen as an unexpected and unusual declaration by the government.

It is not a secret, Markarian explained, that our defense structure is based on a Russian system. This is why changing it will require a lot of time. This problem is independent of our will, he said. However, if we take into consideration that the main problem in Armenia is that of energy, we can easily see which possibility or option is in our best interest. Thus, our position is not driven by our desire; we must take into consideration what is possible. If we are to consider this issue from a sentimental perspective, and ignore the fact that we are still in a war, or ignore the geographical location of Armenia and the features of our defense system, it would be easy to choose Europe over Russia. But addressing this problem from such a viewpoint is wrong. The primary concern for us is not the sentimental aspect of the problem, but rather the responsibility with which we should deal with it. Yet, he went on, the shortcoming of this decision was the fact that the Armenian authorities did not create possibilities for establishing a unified government position on this issue, which is why the public and the other political parties were all surprised.

Regarding the negotiations with the European Union, Markarian stated that the whole process was not useless. Adopting European values and making our country conform to them is the main goal that we should pursue, he said. In other words, we must seek European values without necessarily joining the European Union. We believe in the right of the people to choose their representatives, he explained, and therefore we do not need the intervention of the Europeans in establishing democracy in Armenia. By not refusing Europe completely on the one hand, and choosing the Russian direction on the other, we have brought relief to our people, soldiers, and army, he said.

Markarian also talked about Armenian foreign policy and explained that while the ARF’s problem with the Armenian authorities is internal, it shouldn’t come at the expense of Karabagh, or the right of future generations, or the campaign for genocide recognition. That which strengthens our state and economy must not be a victim in this internal conflict, he underscored. Regarding ARF Bureau member Vahan Hovannesian’s ambassadorship, Markarian made it clear that it does not mean the ARF is sympathetic to the foreign policy of Armenia; rather, Hovannesian was the best candidate they had. Markarian believes that this is a positive if rare move on the part of the authorities, for the ARF, and for Hovannesian himself. He made it clear that Hovannesian is the kind of political figure who would resign immediately if he were made to work against his principles and beliefs.

Markarian stated that Hovannesian will be sent to Germany, and that he is looking forward to the strengthening of Armenian-German relations, especially before the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, which would counter-balance the Turkish lobby there. The Armenian authorities assigned a political mission to Hovannesian, he said.

He concluded by emphasizing that just because the ARF opposes the current president of Armenia, it does not prevent the party from accepting offers that would benefit the Republic in general. The ARF clearly differentiates where the homeland begins and where the government does, and where statehood and homeland end, he said.


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  1. An Armenian said:

    What is Hovhannesian going to be able to accomplish in Germany? There are only a few thousand Armenians in Germany whereas there are millions of Turks there. The German government favors Turkey and the Turks very much. The Germans worship the ground that the Turks walk on. Case in point is when president Serzh Sarkisyan appointed Charles Aznavour Armenia’s ambassador to Switzerland. What has he accomplished for Armenia? While acting as ambassador, he goes around giving concerts at various venues. Charles Aznavour is French Armenian. France has a sizable Armenian population as compared with Germany. Yet the French Armenians were unable to get the French government to pass the law criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide. The French Constitutional court declared the law “unconstitutional” under pressure from Turkey. However, the same law banning the denial of the Jewish Holocaust in France is not unconstitutional. Former French president Sarkozy stabbed the Armenian people in the back. In spite of his campaign promises, the current French president Hollande and his political party haven’t even taken any action about passing a law regarding the denial of the Armenian Genocide that would supposedly conform to their Constitution. In Europe, France considers herself the bastion of democracy but she would not hesitate turning her back on democracy if the action is against her interests (however shortsighted that may be in the case of the Armenian law as the Turks will be swarming Europe in the not so distance future). It is the law of the jungle out there. If you are a powerful and rich nation you impose your will on the rest. On the other hand, the weak and the poor nations are always played upon and manipulated by the more powerful and rich nations (the case of Armenia joining the Russian customs union). Welcome to the Jungle.

  2. Vahe Y said:

    So basically, Mr. Hovhannesian will be working under Foreign Minister Nalbandian – an individual whom the ARF and its senior leadership have publicly renounced and called for his resignation? If there is unity amongst Armenia’s political factions regarding its foreign policy – then so be it, it’s a good (European/American) progress. Good luck and best wishes to Mr. Hovhannesian – Armenia needs well polished, capable ambassadors to further its foreign policy agenda.

  3. Gazzo said:

    He will achieve nothing in Germany. ( turkey on the Rhine). An non descript country with millions of Turks.