Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian urged the European Union on Tuesday to press harder for the release of his loyalists remaining in prison, the Armenian government’s respect of civil rights and an objective inquiry into the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan.
In separate letters to Herman van Rompuy, the president of the EU’s top decision-making body, the European Council, and the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, Ter-Petrosian said the bloc should make “decisive and continuous efforts” in that direction. “Experience shows that such efforts produce desired effects,” he wrote.
The letters were timed to coincide with a meeting in Brussels between senior EU and Armenian officials. It was due to focus on the Armenian authorities’ human rights record and ways of improving it.
Ter-Petrosian said stronger EU pressure on Yerevan would dispel what he described as a widespread suspicion in Armenia that the EU is ready to “sacrifice its own values” for securing greater Armenian concessions to Azerbaijan and Turkey.
The top leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) has repeatedly accused the EU and the United States of turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Armenia. He has claimed that the West is reluctant to pressurize the administration of President Serzh Sarkisian in hopes of accelerating the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.
Ter-Petrosian harshly criticized EU representatives dealing with Armenia at the last HAK rally held in Yerevan on November 9.
One of his top associates, Levon Zurabian, seemed confident on Tuesday that the EU will step up pressure on Yerevan during and after the Brussels meeting. “I am convinced that the issue of political prisoners will be raised there,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service, adding that all of them will be set free soon.