Levon Zurabyan: "Every nation which respects itself must struggle for democracy"

Levon Zurabyan, the Armenian National Congress, answers the questions of VK.The Armenian National Congress, which consists of 18 parties, plays an important role in the political life of the country. Important international institutions take this opposition institution into consideration. Levon Zurabyan, the head of its office, answers the questions of VK.

- At one of its last sessions the Armenian National Congress announced a specific time period for the unscheduled elections - from June to September this year. What is this based on?

- It is based on a real estimation of the political situation in the country. We think that the delay of the unscheduled elections will only aggravate the political crisis and gaps between the domestic economy and external policy. Earlier conditions didn’t seem to be very rational, as the electoral law has to be put in practice in accordance with the recommendations of the European Council and a healthy atmosphere in the media must be created. First of all, I mean the implementation of the statement of the European court to allow the independent television channel "A1+", which was closed by the government 8 years ago, to resume operating. But the decision on the elections must be made by the authorities. We are doing our best, but the choice between compromise and confrontation is that of the authorities. We are ready for any choice.

- You don't rule out that the Armenian authorities may announce unscheduled elections. What is your optimism and romanticism based on?

- Well, our aims are not romantic. Every nation which respects itself must struggle for democracy and constitutional order. There is no romanticism in this. "Solidarity" fought against a totalitarian state for 9 years. They went to prison, there were ups and downs, but finally they achieved their aims. So will we, because we are dealing with a miserable kleptocratic regime.

- Which factors could be a basis for regime change?

- The terrible economic situation in Armenia and the poverty could be the basis for seven changes, not only for one.

- So why doesn’t it happen in Armenia?

- Nowadays there are people in power whose way of thinking is not political, but their behaviour is that of a robber band which is ready to use all possible means, including violent ones, to suppress every political protest. They showed this on the 1st of March. But real events have shown that the hopes of the authorities that the protests would abate have not come true. Moreover, 2 years have passed since the presidential elections, but the people are still fighting. This means that the political crisis won't be resolved on its own. The main point of solving the crisis would be the liberation of 14 political prisoners.

- You have said many times that you have chosen the constitutional way of fighting. Lately it is more and more often said that the population is disappointed with the opposition. Do you agree with this point of view?

- Such talk started two and a half years ago. The talk is quieter when there are more protests and they are better heard when there is a pause in demonstrations. The Armenian National Congress always stops these talks through some concrete deals. We are always being asked to move without stopping. Politics is a complicated thing so sometimes we have to put the brakes on.

- The political and economic situation in Armenia is very difficult, but the people are not attempting to rebel, as happened in Kyrgyzstan. What role could the ANC play in such a development of events?

- The way the problems are being resolved in Kyrgyzstan is destructive. I think many years will be spent on  restoring everything. In Armenia the people are not rebelling because there is an organized opposition in the country. Society is pinning its hopes on it. The ANC is preventing such an explosion in the country. We believe that victory can be achieved without bloodshed, through a difficult but regulated political process. Considering the difficult political situation in Armenia, we cannot threaten its national security.

- The ANC has prepared a program called "100 steps", devoted to the recovery of the economy. Are you planning to draw up programs to change other spheres?

- First of all I want to speak about our economic program. The key point of the program are concrete economic mechanisms which could help to redistribute the hyper-concentration of economic resources, which are in the hands of a few oligarchs, and to create good  conditions for medium and small-scale enterprises. It is focused upon social policy. A "shadow government" has been created in the framework of the ANC.
The corresponding commissions work in all directions, and soon we are going to present to society our projects in the spheres of science, education and healthcare.

- In one of your speeches you said that the present authorities, in addition to violence and dictatorship, are supported by external forces interested in implementation of their own prescriptions for solving the conflicts between Armenia and Turkey and that of Nagorno-Karabakh. What can the ANC do against this support?

- The ANC does not keep a distance from the conflicts, we always express our position. Our criticism makes the authorities steer clear of pacts unacceptable to the national interests of Armenia. One day, the resources on which the present authorities base their power will
start to weaken. These resources are promises of concessions to some external forces on both questions. Inability to fulfil the promises will lead the world community to abandon support for this dictatorial regime.

Interview by Susanna Petrosyan, Yerevan. Exclusively for VK.

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