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Armenia’s main opposition has predicted a close denouement in the ongoing peace talks with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, but said the solution was not going to be a pro-Armenian one.

The Armenian National Congress (HAK) led by former president Levon Ter-Petrosian said in a statement released on Monday that “the most serious developments are being observed in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement which can be decisive in terms of an ultimate resolution of the issue.”

In a joint statement issued by U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the G8 Summit in Italy late last week, the leaders of the three nations leading international efforts on the Karabakh conflict resolution as part of the OSCE Minsk Group affirmed their commitment “to support the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as they finalize the Basic Principles for settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

They urged the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan “to resolve the few differences remaining between them and finalize their agreement on these Basic Principles, which will outline a comprehensive settlement.”

U.S. expectations of progress in the upcoming Armenia-Azerbaijan summit on Nagorno-Karabakh were also voiced by First Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg who visited Baku and Yerevan last weekend and met the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders ahead of their next round of talks scheduled to be held in Russian capital Moscow on July 17.

Considering the statement by the presidents of the U.S., Russia and France as a milestone, the HAK emphasized that the document still did not reveal “the updated version of the document that the settlement is supposed to be based upon.”

“Therefore, the HAK postpones its ultimate evaluation till a future date when details revealing the essence of the document become clear,” it said.

At the same time, the HAK voiced its concern on several points in the revealed Basic Principles.

Those included: Nagorno-Karabakh’s status is not a subject of current discussion, the provision of a referendum has been removed from the agenda and replaced with a vaguer wording, a land link between Armenia and Karabakh is defined unclearly, the current principles imply the return of Azeri refugees even to Nagorno-Karabakh proper, and finally there is no word about lifting the blockades of Armenia.

“It’s been a year and a half that we have voiced our concern over these dangerous developments,” the HAK said.

The HAK has opposed the government of Serzh Sarkisian ever since the latter’s controversial election as president in February 2008. The HAK’s presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian then disputed the official results of the vote, which led to deadly clashes between opposition supporters and security forces in the streets of Yerevan on March 1-2, 2008 and the subsequent worst political crisis in Armenia’s history.

The HAK since then has opposed the Sarkisian administration through regular public rallies. Last October it suspended its campaign of anti-government demonstrations, citing the need to stave off greater Armenian concessions on Nagorno-Karabakh in the continuing internationally mediated talks with Azerbaijan.

The opposition resumed public rallies on March 1, on the anniversary of the post-election violence that left 10 people dead and more than 200 others injured.

During these public rallies opposition members, including leader Ter-Petrosian have repeatedly called Sarkisian’s government illegitimate and described it as ‘a soft target’ for external pressures over Nagorno-Karabakh.

“It is on this basis that [the international community] has forced the authorities of Armenia to make serious concessions both in the Armenian-Turkish and Karabakh settlement processes,” said the opposition in its latest statement.

The Ter-Petrosian camp believes that the only way to stop the ‘dangerous’ process and prevent Sarkisian from signing the ‘crucial document’ is a demand for his resignation “supported by the population of Armenia, Karabakh and all concerned political forces”.

The opposition also called for snap presidential and parliamentary elections “to form a government that enjoys public trust” and which “will be able to defend the national interests of the Armenian people before the international community.”
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