Head of the RPA’s youth organization Karen Avagyan
Younger representatives of Armenia’s pro-establishment and opposition parties are seeking to have a greater say in the debate ahead of the May parliamentary elections as many political forces promise to give more space to “new faces”.
No lists of candidates for the elections have yet been unveiled, but judging from their rhetoric, many political forces, including the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), consider the change of generations as a major stimulus for future reform.
Azatuhi Simonyan, 20, a member of the Central Board of the now opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s (Dashnaktsutyun) Youth Union, says that while bitter antagonism is a typical feature in Armenian politics, in the their struggle they will try to debate along ideological lines and on specific issues of great public concern.
“We all struggle for our country, but our means and approaches are different. I don’t consider anyone to be an enemy,” says Simonyan.
The young politician says her party will have several issues of concern particularly to young people in its election platform, such as university fees, homes for young families, employment for young specialists, as well as the issue of developing a law “On the Youth”.
Areg Gevorgyan, 24, a member of the youth organization of the Armenian National Movement (a key party in the opposition alliance led by ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan), also finds it important that younger politicians be given more opportunities of participating in the debate ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections. He says his political force will also focus on a number of issues of vital concern for the country’s youths.
“Better education, more job opportunities… These are simple things that most young people in Armenia are deprived of today and have to leave the country,” says Gevorgyan.
At the same time, he insists that no one in Armenia can now accomplish even a perfectly written program and disseminate ideas because of what he describes as the current ‘criminal regime’.
The young oppositionist holds the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) responsible for election fraud that he claims helps this force reproduce itself in power.
“We known all too well how power is formed in Armenia,” Gevorgyan says.
Karen Avagyan, 37, who heads the RPA’s youth organization and is a member of parliament, responds by saying that the opposition often exaggerates problems, while the biggest of all concerns today is how to ensure tolerance in a free and fair political struggle.
“Emigration-related problems are exaggerated. Today the movement of people from one place to another has become a global trend and reasons for that are different: educational programs, expectations of higher salaries, climate preferences. That’s why migration is a common trend. But we are concerned about migration that takes place because of social problems,” says Avagyan.
Young oppositionist Areg Gevorgyan, meanwhile, says that they were ready for cooperation with other forces in fighting corruption, reducing poverty, preventing crime in the army, etc..
“We are ready to cooperate with any political force for forming legitimate authorities, be it Dashnaktsutyun or Heritage. Personally, I also see the possibility of cooperation with the [pro-establishment] Prosperous Armenia Party, as well as with individuals in the Republican Party who would support the establishment of law and democracy in Armenia,” says Gevorgyan.