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Dashnak Leader Slams Yerevan’s ‘Dangerous’ Foreign Policy


Armenia -- Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party, undated

A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) accused President Serzh Sarkisian on Monday of jeopardizing Armenia’s national security with his diplomatic overtures to Turkey.

Vahan Hovannisian, who leads the influential nationalist party’s faction in parliament, criticized the Armenian government’s “dangerous foreign policy course” as he and other Dashnaktsutyun figures campaigned for the May 31 municipal elections in Yerevan.

“As an opposition force, we will now certainly open your eyes to many other shortcomings which we might have considered secondary until now because of being convinced that at least the country’s national security is not in danger,” Hovannisian told students of a private university in the capital. “Now it is in danger.”

The former deputy parliament speaker and presidential candidate clearly referred to the Sarkisian administration’s conciliatory policy toward Turkey that led his party to pull out of Armenia’s governing coalition late last month. The move followed Ankara’s and Yerevan’s announcement that they have agreed on a “roadmap” for normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations.

Dashnaktsutyun leaders believe that the still unpublicized agreement enabled U.S. President Barack Obama to backtrack on his earlier pledges to recognize the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide in his April 24 statement. They say that Yerevan has also made other conditions to Ankara while failing to secure the lifting of Turkey’s 16-year blockade of Armenia.

Both Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian insist that the Turkish-Armenian negotiations have been going on without any preconditions. Sarkisian said after Thursday talks in Prague with Turkish President Abdullah Gul that they agreed to mend ties “within reasonable time frames.”

However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated the next day that Ankara will not establish diplomatic relations and reopen the Turkish-Armenian border before a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “The borders will be opened if Armenia pulls out its troops from occupied Azeri lands,” Erdogan told Turkish state television.

“No document, including the roadmap, describes the talks as unconditional,” “Hurriyet Daily News” quoted an unnamed senior Turkish diplomatic as saying on Monday. “Both sides’ conditions are always in their dossiers and guiding the talks.”
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