Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian said on Monday that his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party is ready to team up with other opposition forces ahead of Armenia’s parliamentary elections due in May.
But he stressed that the onus is on the Armenian National Congress (HAK) of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian to make possible the formation of an opposition electoral alliance.
Hovannisian said Zharangutyun expects to decide the format of its participation in the elections in the next “one or two” months. There have been no election-related talks with other opposition groups or discussions within the party so far, he said.
“We are inclined to embrace big solutions but unlike our first attempt in 2007 we will probably not be ready to wait until the last moment [of the election campaign] if that expectation is going to be unfounded,” Hovannisian told a news conference. “If there is a genuine possibility of ideological and program-based unity, we are ready to consider and discuss it and finally join forces with all cooperating forces.”
“But looking back at the past year 2011, one can observe that the problem is not with us and that there are reservations [about cooperation with Zharangutyun] by some leaders of the Armenian National Congress,” he said.
Relations between the HAK and Zharangutyun have grown increasingly strained since 2009. Zharangutyun representatives have accused Ter-Petrosian’s bloc of seeking to impose its will on the Armenian opposition camp.
Hovannisian, who served as foreign minister in the Ter-Petrosian administration in 1992, had a rare conversation with the HAK leader when he visited HAK supporters camped out in Yerevan’s Liberty Square in early October. There are no indications that the gesture helped to ease tensions between the two forces.
Zharangutyun also has an uneasy rapport with another major opposition party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). The two traded bitter accusations after Dashnaktsutyun parliamentarians refused to vote for Zharangutyun candidates for the vacant posts of parliament speaker and vice-speaker and backed pro-government nominees instead.