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Ter-Petrosian Again Slams Armenia’s ‘Failed’ Foreign Policy


Armenia -- Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian addresses thousands of supporters in Yerevan on May 15, 2009.

Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian stepped up his harsh criticism of Armenia’s “failed” rapprochement with Turkey as he again rallied thousands of supporters in Yerevan on Friday.

Ter-Petrosian derided President Serzh Sarkisian for failing to secure the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border “even in exchange for a repudiation of the Armenian genocide.” He said Sarkisian has toughened Yerevan’s position in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks and is taking other desperate steps in response to Ankara’s renewed linkage between Karabakh peace and a Turkish-Armenian normalization.

He said: “Sarkisian feels cheated by America and Turkey like a child. They told him, ‘Give up [recognition of] the genocide, that is, agree to the creation of a commission of Armenian and Turkish historians, and we will open the border.’ They got the genocide [concession] but didn’t open the border.”

“Now they are saying, ‘Give up Karabakh and we will open the border.’ No other head of state has found himself in such a miserable position,” Ter-Petrosian claimed, repeating his earlier condemnation of the April 22 Turkish-Armenian statement on a “roadmap” to the normalization of bilateral relations.
Armenia -- Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian leads an opposition march through central Yerevan on May 15, 2009.

The statement, reportedly brokered by the United States, came less than two days before the annual remembrance of more than one million Armenians killed in the Ottoman Empire from 1915-1918. Analysts believe it enabled U.S. President Barack Obama to backpedal on his pledge to describe the massacres as genocide.

Ter-Petrosian dismissed as “nonsense” suggestions that Sarkisian’s conciliatory policy towards Turkey mirrors the moderate line that he himself adopted when serving as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998. He said he will publish next week a collection of his Turkey-related speeches to disprove these claims.

Ter-Petrosian again spoke at length about this and other foreign policy issues, even through the rally was part of his Armenian National Congress’s (HAK) campaign for the May 31 municipal elections in Yerevan. The ex-president personally heads the HAK’s electoral list, making him its candidate for the post of Yerevan mayor.

Ter-Petrosian again said that the HAK’s victory in the polls would mark an important milestone in his campaign for regime change in Armenia. “If anything, our victory would allow us to create a powerful counterweight to the existing kleptocratic system, thanks to which it would be possible to somehow restrain the latter and forestall its further crimes,” he said.

The HAK leader also issued a stark warning to those Yerevan residents who do not plan to back his broad-based opposition alliance on election day. “Those who will prefer to step aside and keep silent, those who will sell their votes, those who will vote for government candidates, and finally those who fill display indifference and won’t take part in the elections, will not only deprive their children of an opportunity to live in a normal, civilized and secure country but will become accomplices of the malevolent authorities that … have stepped onto the path of national treason.”
Armenia -- Opposition supporters march in central Yerevan on May 15, 2009.

Other speakers at the rally claimed that the HAK enjoys the backing of most voters in the capital and that its main challenge is to prevent massive vote rigging. Pro-government pollsters and commentators will strongly disagree with that. One of those pollsters claimed on Thursday that the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and its top candidate, incumbent Yerevan Mayor Gagik Beglarian, will garner more than 50 percent of the vote.
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