By Ruben MeloyanArmenia’s largest opposition force threatened on Friday to hold a planned conference in neighboring Georgia if the Armenian government refuse to provide with a venue for the indoor event.
The Armenian National Congress (HAK) of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian applied last week for a permission to hold it on December 19 in the government’s main conference hall, the traditional venue for gatherings organized by various Armenian parties.
“If we do not receive an official reply from the government on the auditorium’s availability by Monday, we will deem our application rejected and construe that contrary to government claims, no conference halls are provided in Armenia for political initiatives of the opposition and non-governmental organizations,” warned Levon Zurabian, an HAK coordinator and top Ter-Petrosian aide.
“If December 19 is somehow unacceptable to the government, we are publicly proposing the government: give us that auditorium on December 20 or 21 or 22 or 23,” said Zurabian.
“I can assure that we will find a way of getting our message to the people,” Zurabian told a news conference. “We have a serious message, prepared speeches, and we are going to do that.
“Different options are being discussed. One option is to hold the HAK gathering in Georgia.”
Government representatives could not be immediately reached for comment.
Ter-Petrosian and his political allies already threatened to organize a similar conference in Tbilisi last spring, shortly after the lifting of a state of emergency imposed in Yerevan following the March 1 deadly clashes between opposition supporters and security forces. The government eventually allowed them to rally activists in the hall adjacent to its headquarters.
The HAK conference is expected to discuss and map out the opposition alliance’s further steps. Ter-Petrosian announced in October a suspension of his anti-government rallies in Yerevan, saying that the HAK should not weaken President Serzh Sarkisian during what he described as a final stage of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.