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Opposition Parties Vow Joint Actions Against Turkish-Armenian Deal


Armenia -- Stepan Safarian, a senior member of the opposition Zharangutyun party.

Armenia -- Stepan Safarian, a senior member of the opposition Zharangutyun party.

Two of Armenia’s leading opposition parties will join forces to campaign against the implementation of the Turkish-Armenian agreements, one of their top representatives said on Monday.

“You will soon witness joint steps by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Zharangutyun,” Stepan Safarian, a leading member of the Zharangutyun party, told a news conference. “We have reached a tentative agreement to that effect as a result of consultations, and I think that with joint efforts we will achieve more than we would if we act alone.”

Safarian gave few details of the planned joint actions, saying only that they will be taken both “inside and outside the parliament.”

The two parties, which control between them 23 seats in the 131-member National Assembly, favor a hard line on Turkey and have been highly critical of the fence-mending protocols revealed by Ankara and Yerevan on August 31. Dashnaktsutyun wants the Armenian government to make a number of significant changes in the documents, while Zharangutyun has demanded that the entire deal be put on a national referendum.

Zharangutyun, whose top leader Raffi Hovannisian had served as foreign minister in 1992, reaffirmed those demands in a letter to Sarkisian sent on Monday. Safarian warned that failure to accept them could lead his party to fight for the president’s resignation. “I can’t rule that out especially considering the fact that as an opposition force, we have always wanted to see leadership change in Armenia as soon as possible,” he said.

Despite its vocal opposition to the Turkish-Armenian deal, Dashnaktsutyun is also not seeking Sarkisian’s resignation for the moment. The nationalist party has so far only demanded Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian’s dismissal, a stance criticized by the more radical and influential Armenian National Congress (HAK) of Levon Ter-Petrosian.

Unlike Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun, the HAK has been more cautious in assessing the Turkish-Armenian agreements. Ter-Petrosian himself pursued a conciliatory policy towards Turkey when he served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998. The HAK considers leadership change in the country its top priority and believes that the Armenian opposition forces should rally around that goal.
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