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Armenian Leader Says Unfazed By Opposition Protests


Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian speaks to journalists in Tsaghkadzor, 12Mar2011.

Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian speaks to journalists in Tsaghkadzor, 12Mar2011.

President Serzh Sarkisian has indicated that he is not worried about the renewed antigovernment demonstrations in Yerevan and opposition threats to unseat him, suggesting that his radical political opponents will not repeat “mistakes of the past.”


“I think that on the whole political processes are following the right path,” Sarkisian said in televised remarks over the weekend. “I believe that in the last one or two years certain formats have been formed, certain processes have entered the natural course.”

“The rallies are taking place within the bounds of correctness, and that is the right path. I think that both the authorities and oppositionists must draw conclusions from past mistakes so that they are not repeated,” he told journalists in the resort town of Tsaghkadzor.

In a clear reference to former President Levon Ter-Petrosian and his Armenian National Congress (HAK), Sarkisian stressed that within the opposition camp there are people “who have a lot of experience, who know what the state and statehood means, who can see the boundary between the Homeland, statehood, national causes and political ambitions.”

Armenia -- A poster held up by a participant of an opposition demonstration in Yerevan, 1Mar2011.
Buoyed by the wave of anti-government uprisings across the Arab world, the HAK launched last month a new campaign of antigovernment street protests in Yerevan aimed at forcing the Armenian authorities to call snap presidential and parliamentary elections. Speaking at the most recent HAK rally on March 1, Ter-Petrosian warned Sarkisian to accept a long list of opposition demands or meet the fate of the deposed presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.

The opposition alliance is scheduled to again rally supporters on Thursday. Many of them are now demanding a repeat of Ter-Petrosian’s nonstop street protests of February-March 2008 that were harshly suppressed by security forces. It is still not clear whether the HAK leader is planning another standoff with the government.

Sarkisian made only indirect and brief mention of a 13-point ultimatum issued by the HAK on March 1. He said his administration is ready to consider opposition proposals that are “realistic” and “feasible.”

The president also said that Armenians are right to demand “changes” in the country and that his administration is committed to effecting them. He promised unspecified “new developments in the police and the judicial, customs and tax systems.”

“I am confident that developments in our country will be continuous and lasting, and that as a result of those developments, we will have a democratic country,” he said.
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