Leaders of Armenia’s three main opposition parties jointly challenging President Serzh Sarkisian cited on Friday different conditions for embarking on a dialogue with his administration.
Sarkisian implied earlier this week that such a dialogue could center on a list of 12 political and socioeconomic demands that were made by the Armenian National Congress (HAK), Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage) parties earlier this year. He said he has told the Armenian government to “once again address that document.”
The most important of those opposition demands is the conduct of parliamentary elections only on a party-list basis and the introduction of more safeguards against vote rigging. Ruben Hakobian, Zharangutyun’s deputy chairman, said on Wednesday that the opposition trio will be ready for the dialogue if the authorities enact corresponding amendments to Armenia’s Electoral Code.
Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s parliamentary leader denied that at a news conference on Friday. “That would mean that we are ready to negotiate with them on the 11 other points,” he said. “I insist that there will be no such negotiations.”
Zurabian stressed that the HAK, the BHK and Zharangutyun would only discuss with Sarkisian terms of his resignation and the holding of snap presidential and parliamentary elections.
Stepan Markarian, a senior lawmaker from the more influential BHK, spoke of other conditions for negotiations with the Sarkisian administration. “Negotiations can be held only if they [the authorities] declare that they don’t know how to fulfill a particular opposition demand and ask us for ideas,” said Markarian. “In that case, we will be ready to come up with our ideas.”
Unlike the HAK and Zharangutyun, the BHK has far stopped short of demanding Sarkisian’s resignation. The party led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian also seems reluctant to stage more anti-government rallies together with its opposition allies in the coming weeks.