YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports Arayik Harutiunyan, a key figure in Armenia’s 2018 “Velvet Revolution” who serves as a minister in the current cabinet has accused Armenian Revolutionary Federation of obstructing reforms.
Harutiunyan made the accusation after the ARF began to call for his resignation over a controversial educational reform.
“Dashnaktsutyun is showing some undisciplined behavior,” Harutiunyan claimed following a government session on Thursday.
Talking to media, the minister, who also sits on the board of the ruling Civic Contract party of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, went on to accuse the leadership of ARF, who he said are linked to the former authorities, of creating “artificial problems for the Pashinyan government.”
Minister Harutiunyan today appealed to ARF leaders outside Armenia “to take care of their party, because the undisciplined behavior displayed by [Armenia’s] Dashnaktsutyun does not give credit to one of our oldest political parties.”
He also urged them to “look back at its failures and analyze why it was rejected by the society”. “It should have changed its leaders, because they continue to fail the ARF. The actions that are taking place now have only a negative impact,” the minister added.
Harutiunian explained that “while during my visits abroad I sees adequate Dashnak partners willing to engage in constructive work, I do not see it here [in Armenia].”
In the previous government ARF, in particular, controlled the Ministry of Education. Harutiunyan believes that the party now tries to scandalize current educational reforms because it “failed multiple times in this area.”
ARF’s youth wing began to demand Harutiunyan’s resignation after the ministry came up with a legislative initiative to make the teaching of the Armenian language, literature and history optional in universities.
The party also criticized the ministry for funding a street performance in Yerevan by a group of young artists that was branded by many on social media as propaganda of “nontraditional sexual orientation” and “Satanism.”
ARF Youth Union members staged a protest in front of the government building in Yerevan on Thursday to repeat their call for Harutiunyan’s resignation. They proceeded to the ministry building where a sit-in was organized.
Harutiunyan, however, seemed undaunted by the protests. “I am ready to resign only when I feel I am not doing enough. This is not the case,” the minister said.