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Dashnak Leader Rebuffs Ter-Petrosian Offer


Armenia -- Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation, speaks at a party rally, 02Sep2009

Armenia -- Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation, speaks at a party rally, 02Sep2009

A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Tuesday scoffed at former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s fresh calls the formation of a broad-based opposition coalition.

Addressing thousands of supporters in Yerevan on Friday, Ter-Petrosian said that his Armenian National Congress (HAK) can not topple President Serzh Sarkisian without the support of other major political groups. In a bid to win them over, he said he is ready not to contest a fresh presidential election that would be called in the event of Sarkisian’s resignation.

Vahan Hovannisian, the leader of Dashnaktsutyun’s faction in parliament, shrugged off the offer and saw ulterior motives behind it. “It’s very nice to say something which you know won’t happen,” he said. “After saying that you look noble, you become the nation’s papa and so on.”

Hovannisian and other Dashnaktsutyun leaders already rejected cooperation offers made by Ter-Petrosian following the HAK’s worse-than-expected showing in the May 31 municipal elections in Yerevan. The nationalist party opposed Ter-Petrosian and was controversially banned during his 1991-1998 presidency. It has remained highly critical of the ex-president since then.

Another factor precluding cooperation between them is that Dashnaktsutyun is not seeking Sarkisian’s resignation yet despite condemning his conciliatory policy on Turkey. Hovannisian did not exclude that the party, which quit Sarkisian’s governing coalition in April, will campaign for regime change if Armenia’s ongoing rapprochement with Turkey continues “in an irreversible way.”

Hovannisian also brushed aside Ter-Petrosian’s criticism of Sarkisian’s overtures to Ankara, saying that in reality the HAK leader has very similar views on Turkish-Armenian relations. Hovannisian claimed at the same time that Ter-Petrosian is interested in the failure of that policy.

“People [in power] are doing something which he wouldn’t mind doing, and they will fail in that endeavor,” the Dashnaktsutyun leader told a news conference. “He probably thinks that [in that case] he will take over power and say, ‘Well, guys, they’ve already messed up everything and there is nothing I can do, so let’s move on.’ But I think that’s also a wrong calculation.”
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