In accordance with Armenia’s law on public gatherings, Dashnaktsutyun notified the municipal authorities last week about its intention to hold the rally in Charles Aznavour square in downtown Yerevan on Friday. The municipality said on Tuesday that it can not be authorized because another even has already been scheduled to take place in the same place and on the same day.
Vahan Hovannisian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, rejected the explanation and said the authorities failed to offer an alternative venue for the protest, as is required by the law. “They only verbally informed us that some other, children’s event is to take place there at the same time,” he said. “And when we said that we can hold it elsewhere, they said, ‘We will organize an event there too.’”
Hovannisian claimed that the authorities are thus keen to prevent the Dashnaktsutyun rally at any cost. “We cannot reckon with such a desire,” he told a news conference.
Thousands of people, most of them Dashnaktsutyun supporters, marched through the city center last Friday to condemn the two Turkish-Armenian protocols that were signed the next day. Dashnaktsutyun and its influential chapter in Armenian communities around the world have rejected the deal as a sellout. They are particularly opposed to its provisions that commit Armenia to recognizing its existing border with Turkey and agreeing to a joint study of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
Armenia -- Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation, speaks at a party rally, 02Sep2009
Hovannisian also criticized Sarkisian for accepting Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s invitation to visit Turkey for Wednesday’s soccer game between the two countries’ national teams. He said the Turkish side has failed to meet Sarkisian’s earlier conditions for the trip.
The Armenian president said throughout this summer that he will accept travel to Turkey if Ankara lifts its 16-year economic blockade of Armenia or is at least “on the verge” of doing that.
The Dashnaktsutyun leader insisted that the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border, envisaged by one of the signed protocols, is still not on the cards, citing statements to that effect made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish leaders.
“If [the Armenian authorities] are ready to make other concessions to make border opening imminent and inevitable, then this is the subject of a separate conversation,” said Hovannisian. “But I think the conditions set by the president were not satisfied.”