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Official Sanguine About Continued Dialogue With Opposition


Armenia - Gagik Minasian (third from left) and other representatives of the ruling coalition hold talks with opposition represenatives, 16Aug2011.

Armenia - Gagik Minasian (third from left) and other representatives of the ruling coalition hold talks with opposition represenatives, 16Aug2011.

A representative of Armenia’s governing coalition expressed confidence on Wednesday that its ongoing dialogue with the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) will continue despite the controversial arrest of three HAK activists.


Gagik Minasian said the HAK leadership will not act on its threats to pull out of the dialogue if the young activists are not set free soon.

“I think that they won’t announce such a thing,” Minasian told a news conference. “Why? Because that would be illogical.”

The HAK warned on Monday that the prosecution of its members is an “extremely serious obstacle” to further negotiations with the authorities that are aimed at defusing political tensions in the country.

Nevertheless, HAK representatives attended the next day the fifth round of talks with their coalition counterparts. Their next meeting is scheduled for Friday.

According to the heads of the two delegations, Tuesday’s meeting focused on the August 9 violent dispute in Yerevan between police and members of the HAK’s youth wing. Seven of them were detained and charged with assaulting police officers as a result.

Minasian, who is a member of the coalition delegation in the talks, claimed that the two sides did not discuss the release of the three oppositionists remaining under pre-trial arrest. Nor did the government negotiators promise to ensure their release, he said.

“An investigation is underway. How can anyone, even a lawyer by training, give such a promise?” added the chairman of the Armenian parliament’s committee on finance and budgetary affairs.

Responding to Minasian’s claims Levon Zurabian, the chief HAK negotiator, said that the two sides agreed on Tuesday not to publicly comment on their discussion of the criminal case for now.

“I regret if that agreement was breached, the more so if such disinformation was spread [by Minasian,]” Zurabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Minasian also reserved judgment on the credibility of the charges leveled against the opposition youths. But he did describe as “ludicrous” HAK claims that the three detainees are political prisoners.
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