Anti-Turkish party joins Armenian government

Anti-Turkish opposition party joins Armenian government after being invited by President Serzh Sarkisian

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

President Serzh Sarkisian, seen in Yerevan on April 24, 2015, has invited the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, or Dashnaktsutyun, to join his government in a controversial power-sharing deal.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday invited a fiercely anti-Turkish party to join his government, in a controversial power-sharing deal highlighting a stalemate in efforts to normalise ties with Turkey.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, or Dashnaktsutyun, took three ministerial posts and appointed two regional governors, according to the memorandum it signed with Sarkisian's ruling Republican Party (HHK).

"This agreement marks the beginning of a long-term political cooperation based on common values and joint goals and action plans," the HHK deputy chairman, Armen Ashotyan, told journalists.

In a decree signed by Sarkisian, Dashnaktsutyun's Avik Minasyan was named economy minister. Davit Lokyan and Levon Mkrtchyan were appointed ministers of education and of local administration respectively.

Poor relations between Turkey and Armenia date back to the tragic events of 1915 during the First World War.

Armenians describe the events as a "genocide" while Turkey says both Turks and Armenians were killed.

Dashnaktsutyun, a socialist party which currently holds five seats in Armenia's 131-member parliament, also advocates claims on Turkey's territory.

Highly popular among Armenia's influential diaspora abroad, Dashnaktsutyun went into opposition in 2009 after Armenia and Turkey signed an agreement to normalise relations.

The normalisation process had started in 2007 with the mediatorship of Switzerland and both Turkey and Armenia sent protocols to their parliaments to improve the relations.

However, Armenia has suspended two protocols with Turkey, claiming Ankara had a "lack of desire" to complete the process.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered to establish with Armenia a common commission of inquiry concerning the 1915 events, calling for other countries to contribute the process if they have relevant information. The Armenian side has not accepted Erdogan’s offer, but rather seeks international support for its claims.