Armenia’s governing coalition indicated on Monday it still has no intention to expedite the release of an opposition activist and thus pave the way for renewed negotiations with the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK).
Davit Harutiunian, head of a coalition negotiating team, made clear that it will not plead with law-enforcement authorities to free Tigran Arakelian, a leader of the HAK’s youth wing charged with assaulting police officers in downtown Yerevan on August 9.
“I think that that issue cannot be discussed on the political plane,” Harutiunian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “It’s a legal issue and it must be solved on the legal plane.”
“As someone engaged in politics, I will not deal with it,” said the chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on legal affairs.
Eduard Sharmazanov, another senior deputy and the spokesman for President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), likewise said that the onus is on the HAK to kick-start the dialogue which it suspended last month in protest against Arakelian’s prosecution.
“I think it should be beneficial for the Congress and everyone to continue the dialogue, and here the problem is within the Congress. It’s the Congress that suspended [the talks,] and it’s the Congress that must resist the temptation to follow political techniques,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Addressing thousands of supporters rallying in Yerevan on Friday, Ter-Petrosian said the HAK is still ready to resume the talks if Arakelian is set free “in the coming days.” “Or else … we will be compelled to talk to the authorities in another language,” he warned.
Significantly, Ter-Petrosian said at the same time that in the latter case his bloc will not seek to stage a “revolution or uprising” and would instead hold demonstrations in Yerevan’s Liberty Square more frequently.
The HAK rally coincided with a meeting late on Friday of the ruling HHK’s board led by President Sarkisian. Sharmazanov said the board did not discuss Ter-Petrosian’s statements.