By Hovannes Shoghikian
The leader of an Armenian pressure group strongly opposed to territorial concessions to Azerbaijan demanded on Friday that former President Levon Ter-Petrosian resume anti-government rallies to thwart what he said is an impending “unacceptable” resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Ter-Petrosian and his Armenian National Congress (HAK) alliance halted their year-long campaign of street protests in Yerevan on October 17, citing the need to prevent greater Armenian concessions to Azerbaijan. He said President Serzh Sarkisian will make such concessions if he continues to be challenged by the Armenian opposition.
Zhirayr Sefilian, a hard-line nationalist activist whose Association of Armenian Volunteers is affiliated with the HAK, on Friday again took issue with the move and said Ter-Petrosian should reconsider it. “Especially considering the events of the last few weeks, I am categorically against the continuation of this tactic,” he told RFE/RL.
Sefilian referred to the November 2 declaration by the Armenian, Azerbaijan and Russian presidents that reaffirmed their support for a compromise solution to the Karabakh dispute. Such compromise would result in the liberation of at least six of the seven Azerbaijani districts around Karabakh controlled by Armenian forces.
Sefilian, who had actively participated in the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan, is strongly opposed to Armenian withdrawal from any of these districts, even in return for international recognition of Karabakh’s independence. He and several other opposition figures and intellectuals set up last month a new movement that will campaign for continued Armenian control of what they call “liberated territories.”
The Miatsum (Unification) National Initiative issued a statement on Friday condemning Sarkisian for signing the Moscow declaration. It claimed that the document poses a grave threat to Armenia’s national security.
“The situation has become more serious after the Moscow declaration,” said Sefilian. “If the opposition doesn’t become more active after all this, I won’t be able to understand that. But I hope that the opposition leadership will not wait for the signing of an agreement on Artsakh in Washington and will try to prevent it with appropriate actions.”
Sefilian said Miatsum will hold rallies in Yerevan if the Ter-Petrosian-led alliance refuses to end its moratorium on street protests. He said he will meet HAK leaders in the coming days to relay the group’s concerns to them.
A spokesman for the HAK, Arman Musinian, said Ter-Petrosian and his leading allies are ready to address those concerns. “I am sure that we will meet, discuss their proposal and agree on appropriate solutions,” he said.