National Cooperation is Imperative to Overcome Crisis, Says ARF Bureau Chairman

By Asbarez | Monday, 15 June 2020

ARF Bureau Chairman Hagop Der Khachadourian

ARF Bureau Chairman Hagop Der Khachadourian

In an interview published by on Sunday, Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau chairman Hagop Der Khachadourian emphasized the imperative for national cooperation to overcome the current crisis in Armenia, adding that there is a need for the formation of a new brand of government.

Below is an English translation of the interview. How do you assess the current situation of combatting the pandemic in Armenia?

Hagop Der Khachadourian: Our organization [the ARF] in Armenia has already made its assessment of the situation by drawing on multifaceted analysis and expert opinion. Of course the pandemic is a global crisis for people and governments. No country and no government was completely equipped to confront the vast scope of public health, economic, humanitarian, psychological and security challenges posed by the pandemic.

However, it is through state institutions and governmental efforts that make it possible to quickly respond to the crisis by finding appropriate solutions to first stop the spread of the virus and later to effectively fight against it. Unfortunately, just in that aspect, the government of Armenia has made mistakes, as a result of which we are facing today’s serious and dangerous situation. We still are anticipating that the government of Armenia will formulate a state mentality through which it can emerge with a mode of operation. If not, we will suffer irreparable damages, the responsibility for which will lie with the parliamentary majority, the government and the prime minister himself. Months ago experts and political forces were sounding the alarm and were proposing comprehensive programs and suggestions immediate actions to the government.

H.D.K.: That is true. The leadership simply chose to ignore multiple suggestions presented by the ARF and other political parties and experts. But after continued pressure there were attempts to partially take those suggestions into consideration or haphazardly address them, it was already too late. What happened was that the government denied itself the opportunity to benefit from expert assistance to combat the pandemic.

Despite this environment, the ARF Bureau called on the all Armenians to come to the aid of Armenia. From the first day, through its ranks, regional bodies and affiliate structures (ARS, Homenetmen, Hamazkayin), as well as its youth and student organizations, the ARF went to work by sending shipments and establishing programs to assist in the pandemic effort. Today, we are reiterating our readiness to cater to the needs of the people of Armenia and Artsakh.

Naturally, we were anticipating that through the exiting pan-Armenian readiness and preparedness we would be able to fight against the pandemic with a collective and united front through our nation’s abilities. The government should have been the entity to bring these capabilities together by organizing consultations with all political forces in order to confront the challenges through consensus. The leadership should have demonstrated political will, and by putting aside all differences, come up with a unified program and carried it out through collective efforts. However, during these days of the crisis the leadership did not adhere to its higher mission. Not only did it not initiate such efforts, but rather in this reality, made divisive statements and showed disdain toward alternative viewpoints.

Instead of accepting suggestions and the helping hand extended for help, refraining from its failed approaches and correcting its mistakes, the government continuously tried to blame others. Once again we witnessed the leadership’s egregious efforts to find domestic enemies and advancing a policy of drawing divisive lines. The most recent developments attest to the leadership’s use of pressure to silence the opposition. Are you referring to the prime minister’s latest statements against the ARF?

H.D.K.: Not only that. Today, intolerant approach toward approaches differing from the leadership has become commonplace. As for the prime minister’s speech, the comments made by him—in the manner in which he said, its context and the words he used—were not becoming of the head of state and political leader.

By responding to substantive criticism and specific suggestions in that manner is not only a political blunder, but also weakens the population that is confronting serious issues. It is an unacceptable and dangerous approach. Evidently, the prime minister has not understood, or is intentionally underestimating the ARF’s existence, force, will and spirit. How do you envision a way out of the current situation?

H.D.K.: Given the current situation, the priority must be to emerge and confront the crisis through national cooperation and to ensure the secure and safe development of the country via efforts that correspond to our national standards. All of this requires the formation of a new brand of government.