President Serzh Sarkisian is unlikely to reject the opportunity of a meeting with the top opposition leader should the latter seek such a meeting, a senior member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said on Tuesday.
Parliament Speaker Galust Sahakian, who is a deputy chairman of the party led by Sarkisian, at the same time did not confirm the latest media reports alleging that a meeting between the president and Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian took place over the weekend.
“But we are open to the possibility of a meeting,” Sahakian said. Still, he repeated that the HHK does not have a clear idea of what it is that the current opposition movement wants to discuss.
“In any case, they try to present… that there is an extremely bad situation and that it is necessary to sit down and talk,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am). “If Tsarukian needs such a meeting, I don’t think there will be a refusal.”
Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party and its more radical opposition allies – the Armenian National Congress and Heritage – held two well-attended rallies in Yerevan last month. They plan another rally at a yet unannounced date in the near future.
Addressing tens of thousands of supporters in the Armenian capital’s Liberty Square on October 24, Tsarukian urged the current leadership to comply with a set of opposition demands or face the prospect of being ousted by a campaign of street protests seeking early elections. Among the demands he mentioned amendments to the election laws, in particular, demanding that parliamentary ballots held in single-mandate constituencies be abolished and elections be held by party lists only. Many opposition groups in Armenia believe such a reform will drastically reduce opportunities for the ruling party to rig elections.
“We are ready to change the electoral code in due time,” Sahakian said. “But at this moment we have to deal with changing the model of government…It is absurd to make changes in the electoral code before a constitutional reform as these changes should proceed from the amendments to the Constitution.”
Sahakian said that a special government commission is looking into what the electoral code should be in conditions of the amended Constitution.
The three opposition parties are critical of the constitutional reform initiated by the current administration. They fear that the plans to turn Armenia into a parliamentary republic are tailored to the needs of President Sarkisian who thus wants to stay in power in some capacity after the end of his second and final term in office in 2018. Sarkisian himself has pledged not to seek a top government post in the future if the current semi-presidential model is changed as a result of the reform.