President Serzh Sarkisian will meet leaders of dozens of Armenian political parties on Thursday to discuss his controversial fence-mending agreements with Turkey, a spokesman said on Monday.
The meeting will be part of “internal political consultations” which Ankara and Yerevan have agreed to undertake before signing two protocols on the normalization of bilateral relations next month.
According to Samvel Farmanian, the presidential press secretary, formal invitations to discuss “the current stage of the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations” with the head of state have been extended to the heads of all political parties active in the country. “This will be the third thematic consultation convened by President Sarkisian in this format,” he said in a statement.
The previous two meetings, held in November and March, focused on the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and the Armenian government’s efforts to cope with the effects of the global financial crisis respectively. They were attended by nearly 50 party leaders mostly loyal to Sarkisian.
Both meetings were boycotted by the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK). Farmanian told RFE/RL that the presidential administration has again sent out invitations only to the leaders of the parties making up the alliance. The HAK’s top leader, Levon Ter-Petrosian does not formally head any of those parties.
Some of Ter-Petrosian’s close associates have harshly criticized key provisions of the Turkish-Armenian protocols publicized on August 31. The HAK’s official reaction to the documents, contained in a September 1 statement, was more positive though. Ter-Petrosian is expected to comment on the matter in detail during an HAK rally in Yerevan scheduled for this Friday.
Another major opposition force, the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, has unequivocally condemned the Turkish-Armenian deal. Its spokesman, Hovsep Khurshudian, told RFE/RL that Zharangutyun has yet to discuss and decide whether to attend Thursday’s meeting. Its top leader, Raffi Hovannisian, was presented at Sarkisian’s first meeting with party leaders but boycotted the second one.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), another vocal opponent of Sarkisian’s Turkish policy, will likely send its leaders to the upcoming meeting. Dashnaktsutyun is expected to circulate on Tuesday specific amendments which it believes must be made in the draft protocols.