While reaffirming his pledges to force President Serzh Sarkisian to call early national elections, Ter-Petrosian again spoke out against the idea of an anti-government “revolution” favored by his most radical supporters.
“If [Tigran] Arakelian is set free in the coming days, we will be ready to return to the negotiation table,” he told several thousand supporters rallying in Yerevan’s Liberty Square. “Or else, by keeping the dialogue suspended, we will be compelled to talk to the authorities in another language.”
“By another language I mean not a revolution or uprising but the forcing of pre-term presidential and parliamentary elections through more frequent rallies and an utmost consolidation or mobilization of the popular masses,” he added.
Armenia - Opposition supporters demonstrate in Yerevan, 9Sept2011.
The HAK suspended its negotiations with Sarkisian’s governing coalition last month in protest against the authorities’ refusal to free Arakelian pending trial. The latter was detained along with six other HAK activists after clashing with police in disputed circumstances on August 9.
Speaking at the previous HAK rally held on August 2, Ter-Petrosian gave the government until September to call fresh elections or face a new wave of street protests. Sarkisian and other senior figures in his three-party governing coalition have repeatedly rejected this demand.
“We are starting a whole campaign which will increasingly gain momentum and, by making our public actions more frequent, bring our struggle to a point where the regime will have to retreat and accept the people’s victory,” Levon Zurabian, the HAK coordinator, told the protesters on Friday.
But neither Zurabian nor Ter-Petrosian left indications that the opposition movement is prepared for the kind of non-stop protests that it staged following the February 2008 presidential election.
Ter-Petrosian noted only that the HAK is “not guided by the insane idea of life-or-death struggle or the irresponsible slogan ‘freedom or death.’” He said the next HAK demonstration will be held on September 23.