By Karine Kalantarian
Tigran Torosian, the deputy speaker of Armenia’s parliament representing the governing Republican Party (HHK), on Friday advocated a “dialogue” with the opposition, saying that the mounting political tensions threaten political stability in the country.
“I believe that frank dialogue is not only possible but also necessary,” Torosian said, ringing alarm bells over what he described as a “crisis of intolerance” between supporters and opponents of President Robert Kocharian.
“I don’t think it is fraught with regime change, but it is definitely very dangerous for our country,” he told a news conference. “It will be very, very difficult to carry on like this.”
The warning came amid an intensifying campaign of opposition protests around the country which could culminate in a campaign of anti-government demonstrations in Yerevan later this spring. Tensions have risen since the refusal by the pro-Kocharian parliament majority to hold a “referendum of confidence” in the Armenian president whose reelection in 2003 the opposition does not recognize. Opposition lawmakers have since been boycotting sessions of the National Assembly.
But Torosian made it clear that while the authorities admit that there was serious fraud in last year’s presidential and parliamentary elections, they remain staunchly opposed to any fresh polls demanded by their rivals. “I think this is not serious. If elections were to be held tomorrow I’m sure the outcome would be the same,” he said.
Torosian and other leaders of the parliament majority already met with opposition representatives last month to discuss their differences but failed to make any headway. The opposition minority says it will not return to the assembly until the authorities drop their objections to the proposed referendum.