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Sarkisian Signals More Overtures To Opposition


Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian is interviewed by the Armenpress news agency, 10Nov2014.

Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian is interviewed by the Armenpress news agency, 10Nov2014.

President Serzh Sarkisian said on Monday that he has told his government to again look into a list of political and socioeconomic demands that was issued to it by Armenia’s main opposition parties earlier this year.

Sarkisian made the announcement in his first public reaction to recent anti-government rallies that were held in Yerevan by three of those parties. Their leaders decried the state of affairs in the country and vowed to strive for “regime change.”

Commenting on the opposition statements in an interview with the official Armenpress news agency, Sarkisian cited the 12 demands which those parties formally presented to the government in June. He said he has urged Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s cabinet to “again address that document” and possibly set timetables for putting it into practice.

The four parliamentary parties demanded that the Sarkisian administration explicitly halt a controversial pension reform, cut taxes for small businesses, sharply increase subsidies to farmers, keep public transport fares unchanged and break up de facto economic monopolies. They also sought amendments to the Electoral Code mandating the conduct of parliamentary elections only on a party-list basis and introducing what the opposition regards as another safeguard against vote rigging.

The government claimed to have fully or partly met some of those demands and cautiously rejected the other ones on October 1, ten days before the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Zharangutyun parties held their first joint rally in the capital. Leaders of the three parties declared at that rally that their demands have been mostly rejected.

Sarkisian noted this fact in his remarks aired by state television. He said the government should now “take a new look at this entire package” and try to make sure that the three opposition parties “feel satisfied.”He did not specify which concrete measures sought by the opposition could be accepted by the Armenian authorities.

The president spoke amid growing signs that the BHK, the most influential opposition force, is ready to cut compromise deals with him instead of seeking to topple him with continued street protests favored by the HAK and Zharangutyun.

Sarkisian already decided last month to temporarily suspend his efforts to amend the Armenian constitution. The move was construed by analysts as a concession to the opposition trio strongly objecting to the constitutional reform.

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