The court is scheduled to open hearings Tuesday on the agreements’ conformity with the Armenian constitution. A positive ruling is a necessary condition for their discussion and ratification by the National Assembly.
Dashnaktsutyun leaders reiterated their strong condemnation of the two Turkish-Armenian protocols before the protesters, many of them holding torches and banners, marched to the court building in the city center. A nine-page petition handed by them to the court demands that the protocols be declared at least “partly unconstitutional.”
Armen Rustamian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, said that would be a face-saving solution for a government that has been facing strong domestic and Armenian Diaspora criticism of its policy of rapprochement with Armenia’s historical foe. “If they don’t opt for this solution, it will mean that a conspiracy is hatched behind the Armenian people’s back,” he told the crowd at a brief rally that preceded the march.
“We should help the authorities,” one woman told RFE/RL. “If the people demonstrate their opposition [to the agreements] they will help the authorities cope with external pressure.”
“We want to express our protest to our government against this atmosphere, this national split and to get our message across,” said another protester.
Rustamian again warned that Dashnaktsutyun will consider “regime change” a key objective if President Serzh Sarkisian succeeds in putting the controversial agreements into practice. The nationalist party, which was represented in Sarkisian’s coalition cabinet until last April, has until now been careful not to demand his resignation.
Dashnaktsutyun confirmed late last month that at least one of its leaders, Vahan Hovannisian, has met with the Constitutional Court chairman, Gagik Harutiunian, to discuss the upcoming court hearings. Rustamian insisted then that the meeting was not secret and did not signify continuing cooperation between Dashnaktsutyun and the government.