Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian on Tuesday again claimed that the Armenian authorities are intent on putting Nagorno-Karabakh back under Azerbaijani control and downplayed the dwindling attendance at his anti-government rallies in Yerevan.
“If things continue like this, they will definitely give [Karabakh] away,” Ter-Petrosian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service as he met with supporters in the northern city of Vanadzor.
The top leader of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) has made similar allegations in the past. But in a speech last July, he claimed that President Serzh Sarkisian is “blindly seeking to preserve the status quo” in the Karabakh quo and thus risking another war with Azerbaijan. He said Armenia can not secure its future without Karabakh peace.
The July speech prompted strong criticism from Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and opposition groups that are odds with the HAK. They said that Ter-Petrosian, who served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998, himself would agree to a pro-Azerbaijani solution to the Karabakh dispute.
Ter-Petrosian raised more questions when he addressed thousands of supporters rallying in Yerevan on September 17. He said Sarkisian lacks the “popular mandate” to make any peace deals with Azerbaijan.
“Our nation, our state, Karabakh are gliding towards destruction,” the ex-president said on Tuesday. “Our objective is to prevent that. We have no other objective.”
Ter-Petrosian insisted that his opposition alliance is “doing everything” to topple the current Armenian leadership. But he acknowledge that the number of people attending HAK rallies has been steadily declining.
“Let [the rally attendance] fall,” he said. “I believe our task is to keep up this torch, to preserve the nucleus [of supporters] which cannot break or diminish. Generally speaking, politics around the world takes place between elections. The masses take part in politics between elections.”
“What is happening in Armenia is a miracle,” added Ter-Petrosian. “In no other country of the world, the people come out and stand by their demands, even in smaller numbers, two or two-and-a-half years after elections. And at the necessary moment, our army of sympathizers … will be much bigger than it was in 2008.”
The HAK resumed its regular rallies in Yerevan in September following a six-month break that highlighted its cautious political strategy.