Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian signaled his readiness to reconsider his demands for snap presidential and parliamentary elections as he publicly offered a “reasonable” compromise deal to Armenia’s political leadership late on Friday.
Ter-Petrosian listed the conduct of such elections as well as major changes in Armenian electoral legislation, the release of an opposition activist and five other demands in the latest rally held by his Armenian National Congress (HAK) in Yerevan’s Liberty Square.
“Obviously, the first two demands are the most difficult to fulfill,” he said. “Therefore, we find it necessary to state that we are not maximalists and are ready to take seriously any reasonable compromise proposed by the authorities on that score.”
“We are not interested in empty, petty concessions,” he added.
Ter-Petrosian did not clarify just how far the HAK is prepared to go in compromising on what has been its key political demand.
He and his associates have for months warned President Serzh Sarkisian to call snap polls or face more intense street protests aimed at toppling his administration. Speaking at an HAK rally held on August 2, Ter-Petrosian gave the Armenian authorities until the end of September to “finally make a choice on the conduct of pre-term elections in the next one or two months.”
The authorities have since remained adamant in rejecting this demand. They have also refused to free an HAK activist controversially arrested last month and thus pave the way for renewed negotiations with the opposition alliance.
While voicing the HAK’s readiness to strike a compromise deal with the authorities, Ter-Petrosian announced that his bloc will seek to ratchet up pressure on them. “Starting from today, we must step up our pressures and, by means of more frequent and larger rallies and other mass protests, force the authorities to fulfill our demands,” he said.
Underlining modest attendance of HAK rallies held in recent months, the HAK leader went on to urge supporters to turn out at the next protest, scheduled for September 30, in much larger numbers.
“That will be a test for you,” he told several thousand people demonstrating in Liberty Square. “Each of you must bring with you at least five persons to the next rally. If you do that, you will achieve all of your goals.”
Ter-Petrosian spent much of his 40-minute speech renewing verbal attacks on the West. He again accused the United States and the European Union of propping up Armenia’s “illegitimate” president to secure more Armenian concessions to Turkey and Azerbaijan.
“The United States and EU countries must finally realize that the settlement of Turkish-Armenian relations and the Karabakh conflict and the resolution of other vital issues facing Armenia … is possible only in case of the formation of a truly elected and legitimate government enjoying the people’s full trust,” he said.