Armenia’s political leadership indicated late on Monday that it is undaunted by round-the-clock rallies staged by the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and will not even negotiate with the opposition alliance until they are over.
Representatives of President Serzh Sarkisian’s governing coalition scoffed at the HAK’s stated readiness to resume a dialogue with the government which it suspended in late August in protest against the arrest of an opposition activist.
The HAK linked the resumption of that dialogue with the activist’s release until this month. Its top leader, Levon Ter-Petrosian, signaled his readiness to drop this precondition as his bloc set up a tent camp in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on Friday in a bid to heighten pressure on the Sarkisian administration. He said the renewed dialogue could run parallel to the nonstop demonstrations.
Members of a government team that negotiated with HAK representatives in July and August rejected this offer in a written statement issued after a two-hour meeting held in the Armenian parliament.
“We do not think that the illegal gathering held by the HAK will make a renewed dialogue productive,” they said. “We will wait until the end of that illegal process before discussing details of our meetings with HAK representatives.”
The HAK did not immediately react to the coalition statement.
The statement was circulated as Ter-Petrosian answered written questions from journalists and ordinary citizens in front of several thousand supporters rallying in Liberty Square. Most of the questions related to controversial government decisions made during his 1991-1998 presidency, Armenia’s relations with Georgia and Russia as well as the role of the Armenian Apostolic Church.