A representative of Armenia’s ruling coalition on Monday urged the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) to resume to its dialogue with the government, saying that it risks ending up on the political sidelines.
“I suppose that our colleagues from the HAK will have to make a fairly difficult choice on where they see the HAK stand in Armenia’s political mosaic,” said Gagik Minasian, a member of a coalition team that has negotiated with the opposition alliance.
Minasian said the HAK must either adhere to methods of political struggle “accepted in the civilized world” or opt for a “destructive path of upheavals.”
“As well as not bringing the society to any positive destination, that path would very quickly discredit that [opposition] structure because many would understand that the path followed by the HAK is leading nowhere,” he told a news conference. “And the potential accumulated in the HAK would be needlessly wasted.”
The HAK’s chief negotiator, Levon Zurabian, dismissed the warning. “It’s the authorities that are to make a choice between the following: will the situation in Armenia develop under an Eastern European scenario … or in much more confrontational ways, including the Arab scenarios?” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The HAK on Friday suspended its talks with President Serzh Sarkisian’s coalition in protest against the continuing detention of one of its activists, Tigran Arakelian. It claimed that the coalition representatives pledged to ensure his release at their last meeting held on Tuesday. The coalition team denied that.
Zurabian insisted that the opposition bloc will not unfreeze the dialogue as long as Arakelian remains in pre-trial detention on charges of assaulting police officers on August 9 together with six other members of the HAK’s youth wing. “We will not negotiate with political prisoners in jail,” he said.
“With their behavior, the authorities show that they are doing everything to torpedo this dialogue,” he charged. “One the one hand, they want to engage in a courteous dialogue, but on the other hand they resort to the whole arsenal of repressions that they have applied to the HAK for the past three-and-a-half years.”
Both Zurabian and Minasian asserted at the same time that the talks aimed at addressing chronic political tensions in the country may yet resume.