The Armenian National Congress (HAK) has ceased to represent a credible alternative to Armenia’s current leadership, a leader of another major opposition force claimed on Wednesday.
Stepan Safarian reaffirmed the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party’s strong criticism of the ongoing negotiations between the HAK and President Serzh Sarkisian’s governing coalition.
“The Armenian National Congress, which was perceived to be an alternative to these authorities in 2008, today … cannot be regarded as such,” Safarian told journalists during a public debate with a pro-government lawmaker. “For alternatives exist in cases where there are alternative approaches and evaluations on many key issues.”
“One side writes up 80 pages [of written HAK arguments,] then the other asks for two weeks’ time to read them,” he said, ridiculing the dialogue. “Then the other side writes up 130 pages [of counterarguments,] after which they start praising each other.”
But Artak Zakarian, a parliament deputy from Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), defended the dialogue, saying that it is “working.” He argued that the negotiating parties need time to consider each other’s proposals and come up with counterarguments.
The HAK says that the main purpose of the dialogue is to force the Sarkisian administration to call fresh presidential and parliamentary elections. The alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian has threatened to launch a campaign of “civil disobedience” if the authorities continue to reject its key demand.
Zharangutyun as well as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the other major opposition party represented in parliament, dismiss these statements. They claim that the talk of snap polls is a smokescreen for the HAK’s readiness to cut secret deals with Sarkisian.
Ter-Petrosian has repeatedly condemned these verbal attacks. He and his associates have also said that the HAK is the country’s only genuine opposition force.