By Ruzanna Stepanian
Armenia’s main opposition force has reaffirmed its commitment to keep low profile while the current administration is actively seeking a negotiated peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but threatens it will consider resuming anti-government demonstrations in the event of ‘dangerous developments’.
The political board of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian met on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of resuming public rallies that the opposition has not held since mid-October.
Several of the opposition political parties participating in the alliance, including the People’s Party of Armenia, Hanrapetutyun, the Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), the Liberal Party, the Alliance of Armenian Volunteers, took part in the discussion, which eventually decided to give the government more time to prove its commitment to a ‘pro-Armenian solution’ to the conflict.
Opposition leader Ter-Petrosian last month called a temporary halt to his yearlong campaign of anti-government demonstrations, citing the need to stave off greater Armenian concessions on Nagorno-Karabakh.
In view of an ‘imminent denouement’ in the Karabakh conflict, Ter-Petrosian then said the opposition did not want to become a tool in the hands of foreign forces against its will. “To fall into this trap would be an unforgivable delusion and a political short-sightedness on our part,” he, in particular, said.
Some groups in the HAK known for their hard-line on any territorial concessions to Azerbaijan in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh have lately called on their allies to renew demonstrations as they assume the developments are leading to a settlement largely based on Armenia’s unilateral concessions.
In particular, the Alliance of Armenian Veterans led by prominent Karabakh war veteran Zhirayr Sefilian deems that renewed mass demonstrations are warranted in view of ‘dangerous developments’ in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process.
But HHSh Board chairman Ararat Zurabian calls such a step premature.
“The opposition gives an opportunity to the government to try to achieve a maximum pro-Armenian solution. If Serzh Sarkisian manages to achieve some positive result, we shall welcome that irrespective of his being an illegitimate president… And by suspending our rallies we also ensured that the government would not make an excuse that the opposition would hinder and eventually thwart any initiative,” Zurabian explained.
“If we find that the authorities’ steps jeopardize the Republic of Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh, we will certainly restart our active efforts, including by means of public rallies,” he added
The opposition leader thinks that while any prolongation will lead to a further weakening of Armenia’s positions, it is still unacceptable to have a solution based on concessions rather than compromises.
The HHSh leader also repeated the opposition concerns that President Sarkisian might be inclined to make uncalled-for concessions in order to legitimize his rule in the eyes of the international community.
The isolation of Nagorno-Karabakh from the ongoing peace process is another point of concern for the opposition, he said.
“The current regime in Armenia has not made a single step to restore Nagorno-Karabakh’s status as a full-pledged participant in the negotiations,” Zurabian concluded.