Armenia’s political leadership has no intention to take any extraordinary steps before the April 28 deadline set by the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), a leading member of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) said on Monday.
“We never change things under pressure,” Galust Sahakian, a deputy chairman of the HHK, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “We will stick to our approaches and determination.”
Sahakian also said that the HAK has still not specified the agenda of a “dialogue” proposed by it to President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration. “We don’t know what we should talk about,” he said.
The HAK’s top leader, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, says his opposition alliance will be ready to negotiate with the authorities if they free all “political prisoners,” promise an objective inquiry into the 2008 post-election violence and guarantee opposition access to Yerevan’s Liberty Square.
Addressing thousands of supporters who rallied in the square on Friday, Ter-Petrosian threatened to “drastically change” his hitherto cautious tactic of political struggle if the authorities fail to meet these demands by April 28. One of his closest associates, Levon Zurabian, told the crowd to gear up for a “campaign of civil disobedience.”
Zurabian on Monday declined to elaborate on what the HAK will do if the authorities fail to take the steps demanded by it. He said only that it would be “no longer possible to keep the people’s wrath within the bounds in which it has been expressed until now.”
Sahakian seemed confident, however, that the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition will not take any steps that would threaten Sarkisian’s hold on power. He noted that Ter-Petrosian issued 15 demands to the authorities when he launched his campaign of antigovernment demonstrations in late February.
“They cut from [the number of demands] from 15 to 3,” he said. “They may lower to it 2.5, then to 2.”
A senior member of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the HHK’s junior partner in the governing coalition, was more enthusiastic about the possibility of a dialogue between the government and the country’s largest opposition force. “I can already see signs of a distant dialogue, and this is a cause for optimism,” Aram Safarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Opposition forces at odds with the HAK went further, saying that Sarkisian and Ter-Petrosian are already collaborating. Vahan Hovannisian, the parliamentary leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, said Ter-Petrosian’s three preconditions are such that they can be easily fulfilled by the authorities.