President Serzh Sarkisian has managed to hold on to power because of securing strong Western support in return for major Armenian concessions to Azerbaijan and Turkey, opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian said on Monday.
“The West needs the kind of weak and thieving regime in Armenia that has been created by Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian because it’s easier to control them, because they will execute its every wish,” Ter-Petrosian said at an election campaign rally held by his Armenian National Congress (HAK) in Masis, a small town 20 kilometers south of Yerevan.
Ter-Petrosian claimed that Sarkisian promised to pursue a controversial rapprochement with Turkey and agree to what the HAK leader called a pro-Azerbaijani solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict even before becoming president in 2008.
Armenia -- Armenian National Congress (HAK) rally, Masis, 16Apr2012
“This regime is not independent, not sovereign and dependent on external forces … They have agreed to all these things under Western pressure in order to easily falsify elections, to plunder the people, and to lose the money stolen from you at Monte Carlo and Baden-Baden casinos,” he charged.
Ter-Petrosian, who served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998, has repeatedly accused the West of being too lenient towards the authorities in Yerevan since the 2008 Armenian presidential election and a deadly government crackdown on his supporters that followed the disputed vote. He has said that the United States and other Western powers are turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in the country for “geopolitical reasons” such as the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations and a Karabakh settlement.
U.S. and European officials deny these claims, saying that they continue to press the Sarkisian government to hold democratic elections and respect civil liberties.