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Dashnak Leader In Stark Warning To Sarkisian


Armenia -- Hrant Markarian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party.

Armenia -- Hrant Markarian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party.

President Serzh Sarkisian will lose power if he presses head with the signing of controversial agreements with Turkey, a top leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) warned on Wednesday.

“I think that he must finally sober up and refuse to sign them just because of his own interests,” said Hrant Markarian, the de facto head of the hard-line opposition party’s top governing body, the Bureau. “You must not cut the tree branch on which you are sitting.”

Markarian claimed that a deal with Turkey negotiated on the existing terms would the last straw for a considerable part of Armenia’s population unhappy with the government. “The people would sooner or later hold him accountable, and the price would be heavy,” he said, adding: “I believe that we would not be able to carry on.”

Dashnaktsutyun, which pulled out of the country’s governing coalition in April in protest against Sarkisian’s conciliatory line on Turkey, has strongly condemned the Turkish-Armenian draft protocols publicized on August 31. It is particularly furious with protocol provisions requiring Armenia to formally recognize its existing border with Turkey and agree to the establishment of a joint body tasked with examining the troubled common past of the two nations.

But despite the harsh criticism, the nationalist party, which is particularly influential in the worldwide Armenian Diaspora, has so far refrained from demanding Sarkisian’s resignation. Its leaders say they will instead focus on forcing important changes in the protocols or scuttling the deal altogether.

And unlike the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), Dashnaktsutyun will not boycott Sarkisian’s meeting on Thursday with the leaders of dozens of political parties active in the country. Armen Rustamian, another Dashnaktsutyun leader who will attend the meeting, said he will challenge the president to clarify whether it is possible to amend the protocols before their signing expected next month.

Armenia -- Members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation hold a sit-in in Yerevan in protest against Turkish-Armenian agreements on September 15, 2009.
Markarian and Rustamian spoke to RFE/RL in Yerevan’s Republic Square where dozens of dozens of Dashnaktsutyun members continued a non-stop sit-in against the Turkish-Armenian agreements.
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