He said Pashinian’s reelection would spell further trouble for the country reeling from its defeat in last year’s war with Azerbaijan.
In an article posted on Ilur.am, Ter-Petrosian revealed that he proposed such an electoral alliance at a March 25 meeting with Sarkisian and Kocharian. He said Kocharian rejected the offer on the grounds that it would upset a Kocharian-backed alliance of Armenian opposition parties trying to topple Pashinian.
“As regards Serzh Sarkisian, he did not express any opinion,” wrote the 76-year-old politician who had served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998.
“Today I am publicly repeating my proposal to the second and third presidents of Armenia,” he said, calling it “probably the only way to avoid new disasters.”
“It is incumbent on all Armenians to realize that the reproduction of Pashinian’s regime is much more dangerous for Armenia than even possible or hypothetical threats emanating from Azerbaijan and Turkey,” he said.
The offer is significant given the long history of mutual antagonism between Ter-Petrosian on one side and Kocharian and Sarkisian on the other. Ter-Petrosian ran in a disputed 2008 presidential election in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the handover of power from Kocharian to Sarkisian. He was highly critical of their policies and track records.
The three ex-presidents met in October for the first time in decades to discuss ways of stopping of the Karabakh war. Ter-Petrosian and Kocharian offered to jointly travel to Moscow for urgent talks with Russian leaders.
Pashinian reportedly refused to authorize them to negotiate on behalf of his administration. He later questioned the sincerity and seriousness of the ex-presidents’ initiative, prompting angry reactions from them.
Kocharian turned down Ter-Petrosian’s proposal through his chief spokesman, Viktor Soghomonian.
“As regards the proposal to jointly participate in the pre-term parliamentary elections, we have already chosen a different format of participation, which we will announce very soon,” Soghomonian wrote on Facebook.
Soghomonian confirmed that Kocharian also rejected the idea during the March 25 meeting with Sarkisian and Ter-Petrosian. He criticized the latter’s “unilateral disclosure of details of the non-public meeting.”
Kocharian is expected to form and lead an electoral alliance with two opposition parties. He makes no secret of his desire to return to power.
Sarkisian did not immediately react to Ter-Petrosian’s extraordinary appeal. His Republican Party of Armenia is planning to join forces with the Fatherland party of former National Security Service Director Artur Vanetsian to participate in the snap elections expected in June.
A draft joint statement by the three ex-presidents which Ter-Petrosian claimed to have proposed on March 25 says that none of them is “aspiring” to hold any position in Armenia’s next government.
Like other opposition figures, all three men blame Pashinian for Armenia’s defeat in the six-week war. Ter-Petrosian said in March that Pashinian must step down and “at least temporarily” leave the country to end its post-war political crisis. The prime minister reacted scathingly to that statement.
Pashinian scoffed at Ter-Petrosian’s latest initiative when he spoke in the Armenian parliament later on Wednesday. He claimed that his former political mentor is now hoping to carry out a “kleptocratic revolution” in the country.
“The only thing that Levon Ter-Petrosian succeeded in doing with great precision during his political career was to bring Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian to power and to keep them in power,” he said.
Pashinian played a major role in Ter-Petrosian’s 2008 opposition movement and spent nearly two years in prison as a result. He subsequently fell out with the ex-president and set up his own party.