A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) has responded coolly to offers of cooperation extended to his party by Armenia’s largest opposition force led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.
Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) urged Dashnaktsutyun and other “democratic forces” to join it in fighting against the country’s current leadership following the disputed mayoral elections held in Yerevan on May 31. The offer was remarkable given a long history of bitter rivalry between the nationalist party and the ex-president.
In an interview with the Arminfo news agency published on Wednesday, Vahan Hovannisian, Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary leader, sounded highly skeptical about chances for such cooperation. “We are a national party, and we have expressed our disagreements with the authorities over national issues,” he said in an apparent reference to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Turkish-Armenian relations.
“We need to ascertain the [opposition] Zharangutyun party’s and the HAK’s positions on national issues before we can think about political cooperation,” added Hovannisian. “The HAK’s position is not to our liking, and it is a bit unclear to us on what issues we are being offered to hold consultations.”
Dashnaktsutyun and the HAK have both strongly criticized President Serzh Sarkisian’s diplomatic overtures to Turkey. Ter-Petrosian, who himself favored a conciliatory line on Turkey while in power, has been particularly scathing about that policy.
“I think the Congress has the most national approach to the existing national issues,” Levon Zurabian, a close Ter-Petrosian associate, told RFE/RL, commenting on Hovannisian’s remarks. “I don’t see any force, including Dashnaktsutyun, that subjects these authorities to weightier and more emphatic criticism than the Armenian National Congress.”
Zurabian said the HAK is still hopeful that other opposition groups will agree to coordinate their activities with the Ter-Petrosian-led alliance. He said their leaders are welcome to attend and deliver speeches at the HAK’s next rally due on Friday.
Ter-Petrosian is expected to present to supporters a plan of further opposition actions stemming from what the HAK sees as a falsification of municipal vote results. According to Zurabian, the HAK leadership will discuss and approve it at a “very important meeting” on Thursday.
According to the Central Election Commission, the HAK won 17.6 percent of the vote in the May 31 polls that earned it 13 of the 65 seats in Yerevan’s Council of Elders. Dashnaktsutyun fared much worse, winning no council seats at all. Both political forces have refused to recognize the official vote results.