The Armenian National Congress (HAK) downplayed on Monday growing discord within its ranks that has led two political parties to split from the opposition alliance headed by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.
The Hanrapetutyun (Republic) and Liberal parties announced their decisions on Friday, citing serious disagreements with Ter-Petrosian and his inner circle. The developments followed what those parties regard as the HAK’s poor showing in the May 6 parliamentary elections.
Levon Zurabian, a close Ter-Petrosian associate coordinating the bloc’s day-to-day activities, dismissed the dissenters as “opportunists” and “weak, upset and disappointed elements.”
“The HAK will definitely not lose as a result of such steps because the HAK is no longer a formal alliance of more than a dozen parties as it has long been transformed into a popular movement where non-partisan members greatly outnumber party members,” Zurabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“I find it natural that some political forces that are tired and have exhausted themselves are incapable of engaging in such activities,” he said. “So in a sense, I consider this a very healthy process of renewal.”
The two parties have been unhappy with the HAK’s electoral strategy. In particular, Hanrapetutyun has criticized Ter-Petrosian for his pre-election cooperation with the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a member of President Serzh Sarkisian’s ruling coalition.
Armenia -- The leader of "Hanrapetutyun" ("Republic") party Aram Sarkisian in an interview with RFE/RL Armenian Service, 21MAy, 2012
Hanrapetutyun leader Aram Sarkisian reiterated that criticism on Monday. He also faulted the HAK leadership for its foreign policy orientation which described as pro-Russian. “It’s not hard to see that only pro-Russian forces remain in the Armenian National Congress (HAK),” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “It’s a fact.”
“I see the future of my country in Western standards adopted in the United States and Europe. I don’t see anything we can learn from Russia,” Sarkisian said.
Ever since returning to active politics in late 2007 Ter-Petrosian has repeatedly accused Western powers of turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Armenia for “geopolitical considerations.” He has refrained from launching similar verbal attacks on Russia.
Zurabian insisted on Monday that the dissenting oppositionists never voiced their policy objections during meetings of the HAK’s Political Council headed by Ter-Petrosian. “We found out about their exit from the Congress from the press,” he said. “Nobody had talked to us, nobody had warned us of such steps. That alone means something.”
Hanrapetutyun’s Sarkisian asserted, however, that he never made secret of his disagreements with Ter-Petrosian. He claimed that the ex-president’s entourage precipitated the split by ignoring his party’s views.
“When steps are planned without you, when you are just a façade, when you have to be either with them or risk being branded a traitor, I don’t participate in such things,” he said. “I wish them success. Let them work. Let time show that they were right.”
According to the official results of the parliamentary elections, the HAK won only 7 percent of the vote and will have as many seats in the 131-member National Assembly. While denouncing the vote as fraudulent, Ter-Petrosian’s bloc decided to take up its seven parliamentary mandates.
“Abandoning the mandates would have been an act of biggest disdain for our people,” Zurabian said.
The HAK gave up its seats in Yerevan’s municipal assembly that were won in elections held in May 2009. At that time, Ter-Petrosian attributed the move to the vote’s alleged falsification by the authorities.