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By Armen Zakarian
The leader of the biggest pro-government faction in the Armenian parliament renewed on Friday calls for an end to the continuing opposition boycott of its sessions, saying that would help the country to better to cope with “dangerous” external challenges.

“The opposition can return to the parliament in a very dignified way and try to find joint solutions to issues that may become dangerous for our state in the near future,” Galust Sahakian of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) told RFE/RL in an interview.

“Many of the superpowers now seem to be debating Armenia’s future status as was the case with Azerbaijan and Georgia,” Sahakian said, apparently referring to regional rivalry between Russia and the West.

He added that he has held a series meetings with unspecified opposition leaders in recent weeks in a bid to coax them into ending the boycott. He said he told them that Armenia is now in “a new political situation.”

The Artarutyun (Justice) alliance and the National Unity Party (AMK), the two opposition groups represented in the parliament, announced the boycott in February in protest against its pro-government majority’s refusal to debate a referendum of confidence in President Robert Kocharian. The move was followed by their joint unsuccessful bid to unseat Kocharian whose disputed reelection last year they refuse to recognize.

Sahakian and other leading pro-presidential politicians have since been urging the opposition minority to resume its participation in the National Assembly’s work. They argue that the boycott damages Armenia’s international reputation and weakens its negotiating position in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They have also threatened to revoke the parliamentary mandates of the 24 lawmakers representing Artarutyun and the AMK.

The opposition leaders have shrugged off the threats and have so far left no indications of an imminent to the boycott.
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