Two small groups aligned with the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) took issue on Friday with its top leader Levon Ter-Petrosian’s harsh attacks on nationalist critics of Armenia’s rapprochement with Turkey.
The Alliance of Armenian Volunteers (HKH), a hard-line pressure group mainly campaigning against any territorial concessions to Azerbaijan, said it will hold a meeting soon to discuss Ter-Petrosian’s latest speech and its future relationship with the HAK. The HKH’s Lebanese-Armenian leader, Zhirayr Sefilian, told RFE/RL that he will not make further comments on the matter until then.
The other nationalist force, the Social-Democratic Hnchakian Party (SDHK), made clear that it supports Armenian territorial claims to Turkey and believes that Armenia should normalize relations with its historical foe until it recognizes the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
“The party rules out the establishment of any diplomatic relations with Turkey until Turkey recognizes the genocide as a great crime against the Armenian people,” said Lyudmila Sargsian, chairwoman of the SDHK’s organization in Armenia. Such recognition should be followed by Turkish land and financial reparations, she said.
Ter-Petrosian subjected political parties espousing such irredentist agenda, notably the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), to bitter criticism in a speech delivered at a high-level meeting of the HAK on Wednesday. He said that “historical rights” championed by them is not a valid concept in international law these days and that Turkey will never agree to normalize relations with Armenia without precluding the possibility of Armenian territorial claims. The HAK should therefore support a controversial provision of the recently signed Turkish-Armenian agreements that commits Yerevan to recognize Armenia’s existing border with Turkey, said Ter-Petrosian.
“Our party definitely doesn’t share that approach,” Sargsian told RFE/RL. But she said the SDHK, which is the oldest Armenian party, has no intention to break away from the Ter-Petrosian-led alliance of about two dozen opposition groups despite the disagreement.
“We want to have a legitimately elected government,” explained the SDHK leader. “We want to have a democratic country. These are the sublime values around which we cooperate with the HAK.”