Daring Dashnaks: Nationalist Party vows protests against Turkish president’s Yerevan visit

National Assembly Vice-Speaker Hrair Karapetyan representing the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) urged the public to participate in protests against the arrival of the Turkish president in Armenia, which he said will begin from the airport, as he spoke before thousands of party sympathizers Tuesday.

Even though the Dashanktsutyun rally near Matenadaran was formally dedicated to the 17th anniversary of Nagorno-Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Azerbaijan, Karapetyan and other speakers put emphasis on Armenian-Turkish relations and Abdullah Gul’s visit to Armenia due on September 6.

The municipality had initially banned the rally, but the administrative court later overturned that decision in favor of Dashnaktsutyun.

Dashnaktsutyun Bureau member Levon Mkrtchyan said that relations with Turkey cannot improve unless the latter recognizes the genocide of Armenians committed by the Ottoman Turkish government in 1915.

“A top Turkish official for the first time comes to Armenia not as an invader and massacre perpetrator, but as a guest, and we must show our united will to this high-ranking guest with all due respect for democratic laws, and must prove that there are issues that are absolute values for the Armenian people and are connected with its existence,” he said.

President Serzh Sargsyan, who had invited his Turkish counterpart to “enjoy together” the September 6 World Cup qualifier between Armenia and Turkey in Yerevan, commented in an interview with the Turkish Radikal newspaper on August 28 on the negative attitude of the governing coalition member, Dashnaktsutyun, towards Gul’s visit. He, in particular, said: “I think that the actions they will take to make their voice heard will not overstep the limits of the actions acceptable for this kind of official visits. Those who will display uncivilized attitude toward President Gule will display it first of all toward Armenia and myself since the invitation was issued by me.”

Another senior Dashnak lawmaker Vahan Hovhannisyan spoke about the current situation in neighboring Georgia and, in particular, called for it to become a confederative state and for Javakhk, a mostly Armenian-populated province in Georgia, to become an autonomy within that state.

“Georgian leaders should have understood that the guarantee of Georgia’s development and stability is a confederative state and in that case the rights of Javakhk would be protected,” he said.

National Assembly Defense Committee Chairman Artur Aghabekyan, in his turn, emphasized in his speech that the issue of signing a legally binding non-aggression agreement between the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be raised before the international community in light of the recent armed conflict in South Ossetia.