Representatives of Armenia’s governing coalition pledged on Wednesday to consider opposition demands relating to the continuation of their dialogue with the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK).
The HAK said on Tuesday that it is ready to hold more talks with a coalition team headed by Davit Harutiunian, a senior parliamentarian from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). The opposition bloc demanded at the same a “neutral venue” for those talks.
The first meeting between Harutiunian’s delegation and an HAK negotiating team took place on Monday at the premises of the Public Council, a body advising President Serzh Sarkisian on a wide range of issues.
The HAK also demanded that the state-controlled Armenian Public Television provide live coverage of the government-opposition meetings or give it give it 30 minutes of free airtime after every round of negotiations.
The opposition bloc said the Armenian authorities must also lift a “ban” on televised advertisements of HAK rallies and tell police to stop harassing opposition activists ahead of those protests.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Harutiunian said he and his team are ready to discuss these demands with HAK negotiators. He said he has no problem with changing the venue of further meetings to be held by them.
Vartan Bostanjian, another member of Harutiunian’s team representing the Prosperous Armenia Party, described the HAK demands as “very natural.” In particular, he backed the idea of live coverage of the dialogue.
“Let the public be familiar with our issues,” Bostanjian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
The date of the second meeting between the two sides is not yet known.
Gagik Minasian, another senior HHK lawmaker participating in the talks, stressed the importance of the dialogue on Wednesday. He said it could lay the groundwork for a new, more democratic political culture in Armenia.
“This is an extremely difficult problem,” Minasian told journalists. “The fact that this culture has not been formed in any post-Soviet country is enough to understand what a difficult problem we want to solve.”