By Karine Kalantarian
An envoy from the European Union was in Yerevan on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the political situation in Armenia with President Serzh Sarkisian and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian for the second time in a week.
“We are entering a more active period in relations between Armenia and the European Union with the discussions going on in Brussels about Eastern Partnership,” Peter Semneby, the EU’s special representative to the South Caucasus, told RFE/RL after the talks. He was referring to an ambitious program to bolster the EU’s ties with six former Soviet republics, including Armenia.
Semneby indicated that his talks with Sarkisian and Ter-Petrosian focused on political developments in Armenia almost one year after the deadly March 1 unrest in Yerevan. “How that anniversary is going to be observed is also going to be an important indicator for how the political life will continue to develop in this country,” he said.
The diplomat reiterated in that regard the EU’s repeated calls for a dialogue between Armenia’s government and the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition. “I hope that as the anniversary approaches and as the challenges facing Armenia are becoming more acute, the conditions for such a dialogue have improved,” he said. “We will continue to make whatever we can do on the part of the European Union.”
Sarkisian’s office told RFE/RL that the Armenian president’s meeting with Semneby on Tuesday had an “informal” character. It said they “continued the exchange of views” that began at their previous meeting in Yerevan on February 18.
For its part, Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) said in a statement that the opposition leader and Semneby discussed “ways of overcoming the internal political crisis.” It said Ter-Petrosian reaffirmed the opposition’s readiness to negotiate with the authorities if they release all “political prisoners” and stop the year-long “persecution” of opposition members.