Two major opposition parties critical of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) have suggested that there are ulterior motives behind its decision to embark on a dialogue with President Serzh Sarkisian’s government.
According to the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the two sides may be intent on cutting secret deals that would make it easier for the government to make more concessions to Azerbaijan and Turkey.
“If that dialogue leads to fresh elections … we will only welcome that extraordinary solution,” Zharangutyun leader Raffi Hovannisian said as he addressed several dozen supporters in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on Saturday.
“But if there is a different agenda leading to deals, containing other issues -- regular solutions, unacceptable concessions on the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) issue, the continuation of the unacceptable policy on Turkey-Armenia relations -- then I think the people will say no to that collusion,” he warned.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Hovannisian claimed that the government and the HAK might also go as far as to agree on a mutually acceptable cover-up of the March 2008 violence in Yerevan.
Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary leader and former presidential candidate, Vahan Hovannisian (no relation), voiced similar misgivings about that dialogue at a news conference on Monday. He questioned the HAK’s commitment to attaining its most important stated goal: fresh presidential and parliamentary elections.
Hovannisian argued that Ter-Petrosian opted for the dialogue despite the fact that government officials and loyalists have categorically ruled out the possibility of such polls. “That means one of the parties accepts that there may be a change in the agenda of discussions,” he said.
Hovannisian claimed that the two sides are also increasingly united by their “hysterical” attacks on Dashnaktsutyun. “The government and the HAK have launched a joint attack on Dashnaktsutyun, which is welcome,” he said. “Honestly, we feel much better when we are under attack.”
Like the Zharangutyun leader, Hovannisian implied that Ter-Petrosian and Sarkisian have similar views on how to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and normalize Turkish-Armenian relations.
Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun favor a harder line on both issues. In particular, they both reject the basic principles of a Karabakh settlement proposed by the U.S., Russian and French mediators. Official Yerevan has repeatedly described the proposed settlement as largely acceptable.
Other leading members of the two parties have similarly speculated that the HAK is now ready to let Sarkisian hold on to power in return for government guarantees that it will have a solid presence in the next Armenian parliament.
Ter-Petrosian denounced such “malevolent gossips” at the last HAK rally held on May 31. He insisted that his alliance will seek to achieve “regime change” in Armenia through the dialogue.