Armenia’s political leadership still has no plans to call fresh national elections despite its recent overtures to the opposition, a senior representative of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) said on Friday.
“The issue of pre-term presidential or parliamentary elections is not on our agenda because I see no prerequisites or reasons for holding pre-term elections in Armenia,” Eduard Sharmazanov, the HHK spokesman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
“Especially given that extremist sentiment is now being relegated to the background and that we will have regular parliamentary elections in a year from now,” he said.
“Our partners are conscious of the fact that there will hardly be fresh elections,” Sharmazanov added in an apparent reference to the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK).
The holding of fresh polls has been the HAK’s main stated aim for the past three years. But the opposition alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian has concentrated on other, more modest objectives of late, singling out three concrete demands addressed to the Armenian government. Among them is the release of all opposition members remaining in prison.
Ter-Petrosian declared on Thursday that the Sarkisian administration has also but met those demands and paved the way for a “dialogue” with the HAK. He made clear that the HAK will steer clear of a “physical confrontation” with the authorities.
Although Ter-Petrosian aides insisted that the bloc remains committed to forcing snap polls, the ex-president’s speech is cited by other opposition groups as further proof that he is ready to make deals that will help Sarkisian stay in power.
Stepan Safarian, a leading member of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, claimed that the unfolding dialogue will center on the number of seats which the HAK will be allowed to have in Armenia’s next parliament to be elected next year.
“The authorities have until now expressed no desire to hold fresh elections,” Safarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “Quite the opposite. They have constantly stated that the elections will be held as planned.”