The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) is not demanding President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation yet despite its strong condemnation of his conciliatory policy toward Turkey, a leader of the influential nationalist party reiterated on Tuesday.
Dashnaktsutyun, which walked out of Sarkisian’s coalition government in April, stepped up its criticism of that policy following last week’s publication of draft agreements on the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. Its leadership is particularly furious with Yerevan’s recognition of Armenia’s existing border with Turkey and acceptance of a Turkish proposal to conduct a joint study of the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
Hrant Markarian, the de facto head of the opposition party’s governing Bureau, went as far as to accuse Sarkisian of “splitting the nation” and liken him to former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, Dashnaktsutyun’s longtime foe. “I’m afraid Serzh Sarkisian is doing what Levon Ter-Petrosian would have liked to do,” he said.
Dashnaktsutyun was bitterly opposed to Ter-Petrosian and sought to unseat him throughout his 1991-1998 presidency. Ter-Petrosian’s softer line on Turkey and in particular his refusal to bring up the Armenian genocide issue in his dealings with Ankara was a key reason for that.
Markarian made clear that his party, which is particularly influential in Armenian communities abroad, has no intention to campaign for Sarkisian’s resignation and would content itself with the dismissal of Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian at this stage.
“Surely, by demanding the foreign minister’s resignation we are showing our attitude to the president,” he told a news conference. “But demanding the president’s resignation is a totally different matter. Of course, it’s not ruled out, it’s not taboo.
“We may arrive at such a conclusion one day. But we have not arrived at such a conclusion yet.”
In a further sign that Dashnaktsutyun has not burned all bridges with the Armenian government, Markarian added that he and other party leaders will request a meeting with Sarkisian after he returns to Armenia from a visit to Croatia later this week. He warned at the same time that the Sarkisian administration will “commit a suicide” if it fails to heed the opposition concerns about the ongoing Turkish-Armenian rapprochement.