“Zhamanak” notes that representatives of the governing coalition and the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) made “diametrically opposite statements” on possible time limits for their dialogue after a fresh round of negotiations on Thursday. “The government’s representatives insisted that no time limits have been set for the discussions,” reports the pro-opposition paper. “But according to the opposition representatives, the time frames are clear and the government representatives were once again reminded of that.”
“It is obvious that they are attempting to present and use the process of dialogue in different ways,” continues “Zhamanak.” “The authorities, which need to look more democratic and tolerant than their predecessors did, are ready to continuously meet with the opposition in order to win the international community’s sympathy ahead of the elections.”
In an interview with “Zhoghovurd,” Rafik Petrosian, a senior parliament deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), insists that the ongoing meetings between the two sides are not negotiations. “I rule out the dissolution of the National Assembly,” he adds. “The first issue (early elections) raised by the Congress will be rejected. That is, there are neither political, nor legal grounds for holding pre-term presidential and parliamentary elections.” Petrosian dismisses HAK threats to step up anti-government protests in Yerevan in that case. “It’s their business. I don’t think that there will be any pre-term elections,” he says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” scoffs at Thursday’s HAK statement accusing the authorities of harassing opposition activists and preventing residents of Armenian regions from attending HAK rallies in Yerevan. The pro-government paper says the statement “has nothing to do with the agenda of the dialogue” and reflects HAK fears about its impact on public opinion. “By agreeing to sit at the dialogue table the HAK has lost its approval rating and now wants the authorities to address that problem as well,” it says.