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Leader Warns Against ‘Excessive’ Opposition Caution


Armenia -- Opposition leader Stepan Demirchian holds a news conference on December 16, 2009.

Armenia -- Opposition leader Stepan Demirchian holds a news conference on December 16, 2009.

The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) should resume its campaign for leadership change in Armenia in the near future, a key ally of its top leader Levon Ter-Petrosian said on Thursday.


The HAK indefinitely suspended its regular anti-government demonstrations when it last rallied supporters in Yerevan on September 18. Addressing them, Ter-Petrosian acknowledged that the bloc can not topple President Serzh Sarkisian without the backing of other opposition forces. He said they should team up with the HAK to effect regime change and thereby thwart what he called an upcoming resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict unfavorable for the Armenian side.

However, Ter-Petrosian branded those forces as “extreme nationalists” and rejected their criticism of Sarkisian’s conciliatory line on Turkey, in a speech at a high-level HAK meeting held last month. What is more, he signaled his readiness to recognize Sarkisian’s legitimacy.

Stepan Demirchian, whose People’s Party (HZhK) is one of the largest opposition groups making up the HAK, insisted that Sarkisian’s resignation and the holding of fresh national elections continue to top the alliance’s agenda. “This hiatus, this pause is not proof of any deal [with the authorities.] There will still be rallies,” he told a news conference.

“However, the pause should not be too long,” warned Demirchian. In that regard, he noted with satisfaction the HAK’s plans to hold a rally in Yerevan on January 8 in support of Nikol Pashinian, a jailed opposition leader running for parliament.

Demirchian, who was once the most popular opposition politician in Armenia, also stressed that his party has no reason to end its membership of the HAK and will remain faithful to its alliance with Ter-Petrosian. “We have always been a decent partner. Always. Others have not always been decent vis-à-vis ourselves,” he said without elaboration.
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