The two negotiating teams said they simply agreed to discuss two issues prioritized by them. One of those issues is the HAK demand for the holding of fresh presidential and parliamentary elections.
For their part, the representatives of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) and its two coalition partners, offered to discuss “the formulation of rules ensuring civilized competition aimed at proper conduct of elections.” The HAK delegation agreed to that.
“We proposed that pre-term presidential elections be held in the middle of October,” Levon Zurabian, the chief HAK negotiator, told journalists after the second round of talks held by the two sides.
“In our view, pre-term presidential elections would also create extremely serious guarantees for the conduct of free, fair and transparent parliamentary elections,” he said.
Zurabian added that Tuesday’s meeting did not discuss the merits of these proposals and focused instead on the agenda of further negotiations between the HAK and the ruling coalition.
The HAK sought to substantiate its demands in a written statement issued immediately after the meeting. “The only way to get the country out of this situation and overcome the internal political crisis is to form a government elected by and accountable to the people, which would restore trust in the institutions of state authority,” it said.
Sarkisian and other coalition leaders have repeatedly stated that the Armenian authorities have no intention to call fresh elections. But they say they are ready to discuss the idea with the HAK in order to avert more political upheavals. They say the ongoing dialogue welcomed by the West will also help to create a new, more democratic and tolerant political culture in the country.
Two other major opposition forces, which are at odds with the HAK, dismiss such statements, saying that the two sides are keen to cut secret deals that would only benefit themselves.
“This is an attempt by the two sides to maintain their dominance of the political scene,” Artsvik Minasian, a parliament deputy from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), insisted on Tuesday.
Minasian claimed at the same time that “this dialogue will lead nowhere.” “Let nobody think that we are jealous,” he told a news conference. “There is no such thing.”
“I don’t watch soap operas,” Armen Martirosian, a leader of the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, said when asked by reporters to comment on the intensifying government-HAK contacts.