Vahan Hovhannisyan, a long-time leader of the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun party, was one of the most prominent post-Soviet politicians in Armenia and a lifetime fighter for justice and democracy for Armenian people. He made a considerable contribution to the initiation of EU – Armenia relationship, and the establishment of Euronest parliamentary assembly. He combined professionalism, charisma and uncompromising position.
Born on August 16, 1956 in Yerevan, Vahan Hovhannisyan graduated with degrees in history and archaeology from the Moscow Pedagogical Institute in 1978 and received his PhD in history. From 1978-1980 he served in the Soviet army.
From 1980 to 1989 he worked as a research assistant and later as a head of the scientific research division in the Erebuni Museum. In 1989 he worked as a research assistant in the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of Soviet Armenia.
In 1987, as an archaeologist, during the excavation of graves from the Bronze Age, Vahan Hovhannisyan discovered “The Goblet” (22nd – 21st centuries BC), a 4000-year-old silver drinking goblet in Karashamb, a village in Kotayk, Armenia.
He joined the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun in 1989. From 1990 to 1992 he was active in the Artsakh liberation movement.
He was the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun’s vice-presidential candidate for the 1991 Presidential Elections in Armenia.
From 1990 to 1992 he was a member of the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun Central Committee of Armenia, becoming one of the first leaders of the organization in Armenia when it resurfaced during the latter days of the Soviet Union. In 1992 he became a member of the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun Bureau. In 1995 he was arrested after then president Levon Ter-Petrosyan started a campaign of persecution against the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun and shut down the party’s activities in the homeland.
After Ter-Petrosyan’s resignation in 1998, Hovhannisyan served as adviser to Armenia’s new president Robert Kotcharyan and headed the Commission on issues of Local Self-Government until 1999.
In 1999, he was elected a member of Armenia’s Parliament, becoming chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and National Security and Internal Affairs, and served until 2003 in the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary caucus.
On May 25, 2003 he was reelected by the proportional system from the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun and elected Vice-President of the National Assembly on June 12. He was also a member of the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun Bureau.
On May 12, 2007 he was elected as a deputy of the National Assembly by the proportional system from the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun. On June 7, 2007 he was elected Vice-President of the National Assembly.
He was the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun’s candidate for the 2008 Presidential Election in Armenia.
During the Syrian war, he was the coordinator of “Help Your Brother” civic initiative, which aims to help Syrian Armenians and Syrian families in need.
In February 2013, at the Socialist International Council meeting in Portugal, he was elected co-chair of the SI Committee for the CIS the Caucasus and the Black Sea.
For several years Hovhannisyan was head of the Republic of Armenia National Assembly delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and was elected Vice President of Euronest Parliamentary Assembly.
In October 2013, he participated at EAFJD’s 3rd European Armenian Convention as a speaker.
On December 28, 2013, Hovhannisyan was appointed as Armenia’s Ambassador to Germany.
Vahan Hovhannisyan passed away at the age of 58 on December 28, 2014 in Germany.
In 2015, Vahan Hovhannisyan received a special prize for his book “Mandylion” in the “Bestseller of the Year” ceremony in Yerevan.