March-April 1996, Volume 1.2(2)
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun, founded in 1890, established contacts with the Socialist International in 1896, and as the representative of Armenian Socialism, became full member of the Socialist International in 1907 at its 7th Congress in Stuttgart.
After the First World War and the end of the Armenian Independence (1918-1920), the ARF carried out its active participation in the SI. In the mean time, as an exiled Socialist party it maintained an active clandestine organisation within Soviet Armenia, where due to the Stalinist persecution all party activities were ceased in 1930 and the party organization was dissolved. Waiting for better circumstances, the ARF limited its activities in organising the survival and the cultural and political education of the Armenian masses dispersed by the Genocide of 1915. In 1965, for unclear reasons and with an unclear procedure, the ARF’s participation in S.I. ceased. Since then and particularly after the 1970’s the ARF has made every effort to regain its membership rights, as a recognised fraternal party, therefore attending meetings and the Congress. The main obstacle to its requests apparently had been the opinion that its status of “exiled socialist party” made its membership temporarily impossible.
The changes in the political situation of the Soviet Union, made it possible for the ARF to reorganise itself in Armenia in 1990. Until December 28, 1994, when it was “temporarily suspended” by the Armenian authorities, the ARF was inarguably considered to be the main opposition party in Armenia, with a nationwide organization and a popular press. Until its illegal shutdown and seizure, the ARF daily “Yerkir” had the largest circulation in Armenia.
The persecution against the ARF in Armenia has only strenghtened the resolve of its ranks to relentlessly pursue their main objective of presenting to the Armenian electorate the alternative of democratic order and social justice. In its campaign toward that goal, the oldest existing socialist party in the Transcaucasus, the ARF, needs the support of its fraternal parties in the Socialist International. The reinstatement of the ARF’s full membership in the Socialist International would be the most positive step in that direction. A direction which is in accordance with the recent changes and challenges faced by the Socialist International, following the re-emergence of the independent states of Eastern Europe and the Transcaucasus.