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Dashnaks Demand Halt To Turkey-Armenia Talks


Armenia -- The Armenian Revolutionary Federation holds an election campaign rally in Yerevan on May 27, 2009.

Armenia -- The Armenian Revolutionary Federation holds an election campaign rally in Yerevan on May 27, 2009.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) threatened on Wednesday to fight for leadership change in Armenia unless President Serzh Sarkisian halts the year-long fence-mending negotiations with Turkey.

In a statement, the nationalist party stepped up its criticism of Sarkisian’s Western-backed overtures to Ankara, saying that they have only harmed Armenia’s and its worldwide Diaspora’s vital interests.

“We affirm that until now the settlement process has served and is serving only Turkey’s interests,” said the statement read out by Armen Rustamian, the de facto head of Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body in Armenia, during an election campaign rally in Yerevan.

“On the one hand, Turkey is deflecting the international community’s attention from its internal problems and hypocritically acting as an advocate of establishing normal relations with neighbors,” it said. “On the other hand, the Armenian agenda is being driven out of the international arena step by step.”

Armenia -- Armenian Revolutionary Federation activists attend an election campaign rally in Yerevan on May 27, 2009.
Dashnaktsutyun insisted that Turkey has not dropped its long-standing preconditions for normalizing ties with Armenia, dismissing implicit statements to the contrary made by Sarkisian and other top officials. It said Yerevan must suspend the ongoing dialogue with Ankara and resume it only after the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of the border between the two states.

“Dashnaktsutyun is ready and able to force the authorities to make immediate revisions in the current policy,” warned the statement. “Furthermore, it is ready to come to power and do that with its own responsibility.”

Dashnaktsutyun pulled out of Sarkisian’s coalition government late last month in protest against a still unpublicized “roadmap” to normalizing Turkish-Armenian ties announced by the two governments. Rustamian made clear at the time that the influential party will not seek regime change in Yerevan despite being in opposition to Sarkisian.

The Turkish-Armenian announcement came less than two days before the annual commemoration of more than one million Armenians massacred in the Ottoman Empire during World War One. Dashnaktsutyun leaders believe the timing made it much easier for U.S. President Barack Obama to backtrack on his pledges to recognize the mass killings as genocide.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reiterated even after the “roadmap” deal that his country will not lift the 16-year economic blockade of Armenia before a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan. Nonetheless, Sarkisian insisted on Friday that the Turks may still agree to unconditionally normalize bilateral ties.
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