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Ter-Petrosian Ally Critical Of Armenian Government


Armenia -- Aram Manukian, a senior member of the Armenian National Congress, at a news conference in Yerevan, August 23, 2019.

A senior member of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) party on Friday criticized the current government’s domestic and foreign policies, saying that they are not “clear” enough.

Aram Manukian also claimed that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s administration is too slow in implementing major reforms promised by it.

“The current authorities do not clearly express their positions on the Karabakh issue, foreign policy, and relations with Russia,” Manukian told a news conference. “[Their policies] are not clear.”

“That may have been justified during the first few months [of Pashinian’s] rule when there was a revolutionary euphoria,” he said. “That was only natural. But that wave has gone away and the authorities must their express their position on these issues in a clear and understandable way and without tricky terms.”

Pashinian ruled out any changes in Armenia’s traditional foreign policy and, in particular, close relationship with Russia when he swept to power in last year’s “Velvet Revolution.” Ter-Petrosian and his party, which is not represented in the current Armenian parliament, also support the alliance with Russia.

Manukian also complained he sees no “revolutionary steps” in the Pashinian government’s handling of the domestic economy and justice system. “The longer they delay reforms, especially painful reforms, the fewer possibilities of implementing those reforms they will have,” he said.

Pashinian played a prominent role in Ter-Petrosian’s opposition movement that nearly brought the latter back to power after a disputed presidential election held in February 2008. The former journalist spent about two years in prison as a result of a post-election government crackdown on the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition.

Armenia - Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian (L) and Nikol Pashinian greet supporters at a rally in Yerevan, May 31, 2011.
Armenia - Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian (L) and Nikol Pashinian greet supporters at a rally in Yerevan, May 31, 2011.

Pashinian fell out with Ter-Petrosian after being released from prison in 2011. In February 2018, the HAK’s deputy chairman, Levon Zurabian, scoffed at Pashinian’s plans to try to stop then President Serzh Sarkisian from extending his decade-long rule.

Even so, the HAK welcomed the subsequent Pashinian-led protests that led to Sarkisian’s resignation. Ter-Petrosian, who had served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998, and Pashinian met in July 2018 for the first time in years.

Senior HAK representatives also hailed criminal charges that were brought against former President Robert Kocharian and other former Armenian officials shortly after the “Velvet Revolution.” The charges stem from the March 2008 breakup of the post-election protests in Yerevan which left eight protesters and two policemen dead.

In February this year, Ter-Petrosian defended Pashinian against the country’s former “kleptocratic regime” which he said is waging a smear campaign against the new government.

The 74-year-old ex-president also dismissed opposition claims that Pashinian has embraced his conciliatory approach to resolving the Karabakh conflict. He said that unlike himself and the two other former Armenian presidents, Pashinian has so far shed no light on his views about how to resolve the conflict.

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