By Astghik Bedevian
The political parties and civil groups making up Armenia’s main opposition alliance held a nearly five-hour-long meeting behind closed doors on Friday to address the differences on domestic and foreign policy issues existing between its founding members.
Speaking to RFE/RL after the meeting, Aram Sargsian, the head of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party, said the Armenian National Congress (HAK) plans to hold a conference in December and a subsequent extended caucus to address the existing issues and concerns among some of its members and eventually to decide on the alliance’s further steps.
“No doubt, there are differences within the HAK and they are not a secret. Here we have the goal of hearing all different views as well as proposals,” he added.
The Hanrapetutyun party leader confirmed that two different opinions on the Karabakh settlement currently exist among HAK members, with some opposing any territorial concessions to Azerbaijan and others favoring a compromise-based solution to the protracted conflict.
Among the hardliners Sargsian, in particular, named the Social-Democratic Hunchak Party and the Armenian Volunteers’ Union led by prominent Karabakh war veteran Zhirayr Sefilian.
Ex-president and current HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian, in Sargsian’s words, maintains that the HAK should back the people of Karabakh like his popular movement once did in 1988 when the then autonomous region in Soviet Azerbaijan declared its secession from Azerbaijan and joining Armenia.
Another dividing issue at the HAK is whether the opposition should resume its large-scale anti-government protests that Ter-Petrosian temporarily halted in October citing the need to stave off greater Armenian concessions on Karabakh.
If no extraordinary events happen, the two-month pause will be maintained, Sargsian stressed.
According to Zhirayr Sefilian, who has been urging the HAK to resume its mass protests, he raised the issue again during the Friday gathering.
“Today, it wasn’t a meeting to make decisions… I think time will show what step will be made,” he told RFE/RL.
Lyudmila Sargsian, of the Hunchak Party, excluded that the HAK, which currently embraces 16 political parties, will eventually shape itself into a political party.
After the closed discussions, she, in particular, said that a HAK conference scheduled for December 12 would pave the way for a policy-defining caucus.
“This is a final stage of the HAK’s formation,” the Hunchak party leader said. “There are a lot of things to summarize before we head for a caucus.”