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Armenian Official Blasts Ter-Petrosian Over Karabakh Statement


Armenia -- Deputy parliament speaker Samvel Nikoyan at a news conference, 26July 2010.

Armenia -- Deputy parliament speaker Samvel Nikoyan at a news conference, 26July 2010.

A leading member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) accused former President Levon Ter-Petrosian on Monday of demoralizing the nation with his latest statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Turkish-Armenian relations.

Deputy parliament speaker Samvel Nikoyan said Ter-Petrosian’s claim that Armenia can not achieve security and prosperity without making peace with Azerbaijan and Turkey amounted to an advocacy of Karabakh’s “surrender.” “This statement and logic [behind it] undermine Armenia’s defense capability,” Nikoyan charged.

In a speech at an opposition party congress on July 17, Ter-Petrosian warned that the status quo in the conflict puts Armenia at the growing risk of another war with Azerbaijan. “Without settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Turkish-Armenian relations Armenia has no prospect of security, economic development and an improved demographic situation, regardless of who will be in power,” declared the leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress alliance.

The remarks have been criticized as “defeatist” not only by the HHK but also major opposition parties such as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Zharangutyun (Heritage). Some of the critics have drawn parallels with Ter-Petrosian’s past conciliatory rhetoric on Karabakh that cost him the post of president in 1998.

Nikoyan also recalled that discourse. But he speculated that the ex-president, who made a political comeback nearly two years ago, has rekindled it in order to prepare ground for his final retirement.

“I am deeply convinced that the statement was primarily addressed to his entourage,” Nikoyan told a news conference. “What he meant to say was, ‘This is my line of thinking. You want something different, whereas I want to retire. Let me retire and don’t demand vigorous actions from me.’”

Ter-Petrosian has favored a cautious strategy of challenging Armenia’s leadership since his failed bid to return to power in the February 2008 presidential election. Still, one of his top aides announced late last week that the HAK will soon launch a new campaign of anti-government demonstrations in Yerevan.

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