In a statement, the HAK cited government assurances that a “working group” headed by Davit Harutiunian, chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on legal affairs, represents President Serzh Sarkisian and his three-party governing coalition.
Harutiunian gave those assurances on Monday during the first meeting between his delegation and the HAK’s negotiating team headed by Levon Zurabian. The latter found them convincing, saying that the coalition representatives have a broad mandate and are ready to consider all HAK demands, including fresh elections.
“We wanted to understand who authorized them,” Zurabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service earlier on Tuesday. “We received a very clear and simple answer: the delegation represents the political coalition, which means the executive branch formed by that coalition, the parliamentary majority and the current president.”
“This was a new circumstance for us. It turned out that they have quite broad powers,” he said.
“Another circumstance that emerged is that there are no taboo subjects for them and they do not exclude the discussion of any issue, including pre-term elections,” Zurabian said, adding that these facts are “creating a new situation.”
The HAK said on Saturday that it wants to negotiate with a “delegation made up of representatives of executive [government] bodies and authorized by Serzh Sarkisian.”
Harutiunian’s delegation consists of six members appointed by Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and its two junior coalition partners, the Orinats Yerkir and Prosperous Armenia parties.
The first round of government-HAK discussions yielded no concrete agreements. Nor did the two sides agree on the agenda of the dialogue or set a date for the next talks.
While agreeing to continue the talks, the HAK demanded that the Armenian Public Television broadcast them live or give the opposition bloc at least 30 minutes of free airtime after every meeting. It said the authorities should also stop harassing HAK activists and restricting Yerevan’s transport communication with the rest of the country ahead of HAK rallies in the capital.