President Serzh Sarkisian called on Armenian’s leading and often mutually antagonistic political forces to work together in meeting serious challengers facing the country as he celebrated the upcoming 20th anniversary of its independence late on Tuesday.
Speaking at an official reception in Yerevan attended by politicians and public figures, Sarkisian stressed the importance of creating “the atmosphere of trust in our country.”
“For two decades we have been working toward the establishment in our country of a political culture based on competition,” he said.
“However, political competition cannot direct a country toward the best course, if the ends of those competing are subordinate to the means, or when the ends justify the means, if they compete for sake of competing, if they win for the sake of winning,” continued Sarkisian.
“Therefore, political competition ought to go hand in hand with political cooperation. The joint path of competition and cooperation is narrow indeed; it is also unsteady, while the rims of the nation-racking abyss are wide, numerous and slippery.”
The remarks are likely to be dismissed by major opposition groups and some civil society representatives who have challenged Sarkisian’s domestic legitimacy ever since the disputed 2008 presidential election that brought him to power. They say that the Armenian authorities themselves fuel tensions in the county by falsifying elections and abusing human rights.
The main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) insists that Sarkisian’s resignation and the holding of early presidential and parliamentary elections is the only way of ending those tensions.
In his speech, Sarkisian made no mention of his administration’s dialogue with the HAK, which began in July but was frozen last month because of the controversial arrest of an opposition activist. He praised instead the presidential Public Council, an advisory body comprising politicians and public figures loyal to the Armenian government.
Sarkisian also spoke of “the maturity of our state” gained over the past two decades. “We have been able not only to lay the foundation of our statehood but also to start the construction of a strong edifice,” he said. “Our political parties and society have been able to mature passing a very difficult road, to find the path of political competition and cooperation and move forward.”