By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Several Armenian opposition parties increasingly oriented to the West will after all form an alliance by the end of next month, one of their leaders claimed on Monday.
Hovannes Hovannisian, a former senior member of the Armenian parliament, said his Liberal Progressive Party (AAK) and other opposition groups will join forces with the aim of sparking a “revolution” in Armenia. “At the end of August there will be formed a grouping or alliance of political forces that will have clear-cut views on the challenges facing the country,” he told RFE/RL.
Hovannisian refused to name any of the parties other than the AAK, saying that negotiations between them remain confidential. The new bloc, if it is formed, will presumably include Armenia’s most radical opposition party, Hanrapetutyun. Another potential participant is the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party of former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian.
Talks between the three parties began late last year. The AAK’s Hovannisian claimed at the time that they will end in agreement by the end of January. But they subsequently stalled for unknown reasons.
Hanrapetutyun, which is headed by former Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian, is already an important member of Armenia’s currently largest opposition alliance, Artarutyun (Justice). Sarkisian and his associates have grown disaffected with Artarutyun’s perceived “indecision” in the opposition’s stand-off with the ruling regime.
Relations between Hanrapetutyun and the eight other parties aligned in the bloc have further deteriorated this month due to their differing positions on constitutional reform planned by the Armenian authorities and supported by the Council of Europe. Artarutyun says it will endorse the reform if the authorities put more significant amendments to a referendum expected this November.
Hanrapetutyun, on the other hand, refuses to cooperate with President Robert Kocharian in any case. Sarkisian has said it will leave Artarutyun if the latter chooses to support Kocharian’s constitutional amendments. The bloc’s governing board is expected to meet and formulate its final stance on the issue on August 18.
Hovannisian endorsed the Hanrapetutyun leaders’ arguments that “cosmetic” constitutional changes would not make Armenia’s political system more democratic. “Armenia needs a serious shake-up, a real revolution,” he said.