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Ter-Petrosian Bloc To Resume Rallies


Armenia -- Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian greets supporters rallying in Yerevan, 6 April 2010.

Armenia -- Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian greets supporters rallying in Yerevan, 6 April 2010.

The Armenian National Congress (HAK) will soon resume regular anti-government rallies in Yerevan to press for leadership change in the country, a senior member of the opposition alliance led by Levon Ter-Petrosian said on Friday.


Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s central office coordinator, said Ter-Petrosian and members of the bloc’s governing council will meet on July 28 to set a date and work out other details of the new campaign.

“It is obvious to us that that is the people’s demand,” Zurabian told a news conference. “In this regard, expectations from the Congress are growing, and our messages are increasingly taking shape. So we feel the need to do that.”

The HAK has held only two major rallies this year, underlining Ter-Petrosian’s cautious strategy of taking on President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration. Addressing thousands of supporters in downtown Yerevan on March 1, Ter-Petrosian dismissed complaints from more radical opposition elements and said staging street protests too often only “lessens their impact.”

Armenia’s first president defended this stance at the next HAK rally held on April 6. He claimed that Sarkisian will eventually have to step down because of what he called mounting infighting within his governing coalition and international pressure over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In the meantime, he said, the HAK should “spare the country upheavals.”

“Nothing has changed,” Zurabian said when asked why the country’s largest opposition force has decided to resume protests now. “It’s just that we have repeatedly said that rallies are means of political struggle which should be applied only when they have maximum effectiveness,” he said.

Armenia -- Relatives hold pictures of opposition protesters killed in Yerevan in March 2008 during an opposition rally staged on the second anniversary of the unrest.
“And as a result of our discussions, we have arrived at the conclusion that it’s time to resume rallies,” the oppositionist said, adding that the conduct of fresh presidential and parliamentary elections remains the key HAK objective.

In his last public speech delivered at an opposition party conference on July 17, Ter-Petrosian avoided harsh attacks on the government and focused instead on the Karabakh dispute and Turkish-Armenian relations. He said that the situation in Armenia will not fundamentally improve until it makes peace with Azerbaijan and Turkey.

That claim caused a stir both within and outside the HAK, with some politicians and pundits wondering why the ex-president has been seeking to return to power in the first place.

Zurabian denied any contradiction between this and past statements by Ter-Petrosian. He said the opposition leader simply articulated his belief that regime change and democratization would seriously strengthen Armenia’s positions in the peace talks with Azerbaijan.
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