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Armenian Ruling Party Praises Opposition ‘Prudence’


Armenia -- Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian (C) leads an opposition demonstration in Yerevan, 17Mar2011.

Armenia -- Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian (C) leads an opposition demonstration in Yerevan, 17Mar2011.

President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) on Friday ruled out the holding of snap elections in Armenia and praised opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian for not rushing to make a decisive push for power.


“The agenda of the authorities does not contain issues related to pre-term elections,” HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said, referring to the key demand of Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK). “I don’t think that pre-term elections will take place in Armenia.”

“Furthermore, the HAK leader said yesterday that they are not in a hurry. With no such hurry, there will be regular elections,” Sharmazanov told journalists.

Armenia -- Ruling Republican Party spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov at a news conference in Yerevan, 17 August 2010.
Speaking at a fresh HAK rally on Thursday, Ter-Petrosian said Sarkisian will eventually have to resign under what he described as a growing wave of popular protests. The former president made clear at the same that that he is against “hasty” opposition steps and will instead continue to gradually step up pressure on the Armenian government.

“We are not out to wrestle or kickbox, we are playing chess,” a visibly irritated Ter-Petrosian declared in response to “Now! Now!” chants from sections of the crowd.

The thousands of HAK supporters then marched to nearby Liberty Square and were allowed by riot police to enter it for the first time in three years.

Armenia - A woman holds a banner during an opposition demonstration in Yerevan, 17Mar2011.
Sharmazanov scoffed at HAK leaders’ claims that this marked a major victory for the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition in its renewed campaign of street protests. He insisted that the “political” decision to let the protesters into the square was not a sign of the government’s weakness. “Only a government that is strong, broad-minded and committed to democratic values can make such concessions or mutual concessions,” he said.

Sharmazanov also said that both the authorities and the opposition bloc have so far acted in a “prudent” manner. “For both sides, it is very important not to win political dividends but to ensure stable political development,” he said.

President Sarkisian likewise suggested last week that both rival camps will not repeat “mistakes of the past.” In a clear reference to the HAK, he said that within the opposition camp there are people who “can see the boundary between the Homeland, statehood, national causes and political ambitions.”

In his Thursday speech, Ter-Petrosian said his alliance will be ready to start “dialogue” with the authorities if they free all oppositionists remaining in jail and promise an independent inquiry into the March 2008 unrest in Yerevan. Ter-Petrosian issued a much longer list of demands to the authorities at the previous HAK rally on March 1.
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