Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting some representatives of a fledgling political party called MIAK, which is the abbreviation for the organization's full Armenian name. In English it is know as the United Liberal National Party. It started off as a political "movement" then blossomed into a political party only recently. I met and spoke to two guys there, Levon and Davit, both of whom received some university-level education in the West, namely in England and the United States. They have "Western" style ways of thinking, which I cannot necessarily describe all too well but is obviously familiar to me, just by the way they express themselves openly and frankly rather than beat around the bush as most potential or supposed full-fledged Armenian politicians do. Basically I could not get much of an explanation as to what their specific agenda is as they do not really have one yet. They know that serious reforms are needed in Armenia and based on that premise they are trying to go after as many followers as possible, then form a consensus as to what key areas need to be focused upon.
They discussed two things that I thought were interesting. Firstly, Levon believes that there are no political parties per se in Armenia, only politicians that are either Soviet trained or Western trained. He said it makes no difference whether a person is a member of the Republican Party of Armenia, the ARF-Dashnaktsutiun, or Prosperous Armenia--if the individual has a Soviet way of thinking, that mentality will impede his or her abilities to bring about change, whatever that may be or entail. The second topic was regarding Nagorno-Karabagh. The two gentlemen, who are basically giving the opinion of the party, insist that arriving at an immediate solution to the Karabagh problem, in other words this year as the West particularly is hoping for, will not be enough to drastically improve Armenia's economy. Furthermore, it is not in the interests of Armenia to give up the status quo and simply gamble on the possibility of faster economic growth through regional integration. They also believe in cautious negotiations with Turkey, but not to develop relations without preconditions in order to simply open the Turkish-Armenian border, as the Armenian side has been suggesting for some time now.
In any case, I was very impressed with these guys. They seem like they know what they want to do but not necessarily know the correct approach yet. The party, which has around 600 members, will be contesting seats in the National Assembly elections in May, but they will have to win apparently 5 percent of the total vote in the proportional system to have representation. And they have lots of competition, including Raffi Hovhanisian's Heritage party. It should be very interesting to see where MIAK goes from here.
MIAK's Web site can be found in Armenian here.
Labels: Nagorno-Karabagh, Politics