Dashnaktsutyun stage a rally in protest of Armenian-Turkish protocols

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) rallied more than a thousand supporters in Yerevan on Monday to demand that Armenia’s Constitutional Court invalidate the fence-mending agreements with Turkey, RFE/RL reports. The whole rally seems like a big and colorful show, because very few people would consider the Constitutional Court an independent branch of the state capable of making decisions without the direct instructions from the President’s administration, or Dashnakstutyun, a true and independent opposition force, capable of impacting the government’s agenda. Continue reading

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Controversial Ter-Petrosian criticises Armenia-Turkey ‘roadmap’

Ter-Petrosian makes his way through the rally

Ter-Petrosian makes his way through the rally © Artur Papyan | http://www.ditord.com

“In a damning indictment of Armenia’s rapprochement with Turkey, opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian accused President Serzh Sarkisian on Friday of scuttling U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide and gaining nothing in return,” RFE/RL reports. Addressing thousands of supporters rallying in Yerevan, Ter-Petrosian charged that Sarkisian’s apparent acceptance of a joint Turkish-Armenian academic study of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire amounted to “genocide denial.” Continue reading

Heritage spokesperson: “Large segment of electorate finds it hard to vote for Ter-Petrosian”

“There is a large segment of the electorate that finds it hard to vote for Levon Ter-Petrosian,” Hovsep Khurshudian, the  “Heritage”  spokesman told journalists today, defending his party’s refusal to back former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s candidacy for the post of Yerevan mayor.

“Heritage” (Zharangutyun), which is led by former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian, decided late Monday not to form an alliance with Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) for the May 31 municipal elections. Continue reading

Former president to run for Yerevan’s mayor?

Armenia’s main opposition alliance has decided to contest the forthcoming municipal elections in Yerevan and nominate its top leader, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, as its candidate for the post of city mayor, RFE/RL reports.

Speaking on behalf of the Ter-Petrossian led Armenian National Congress (HAK), Levon Zurabyan said opposition block views the upcoming elections as the “second round of presidential elections”. The oposition spokesperson said, that given Yerevan’s political and economic significance, they see this as an opportunity “to change the existing dictatoral system in Armenia”.

It is of course hard to beleive, that the former president would actually want to serve as the mayor of Yerevan, but it’s quite easy to see, how this decision overhauls the otherwise predictible ‘elections’  and seriously damages incumbant mayor Gagik Beglaryan’s chances to be elected.

Divided blogosphere on united opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian’s conciliatory speech

Quite predictably, the internet discussions over the past several days focused primarily on the congress held by opposition forces and the first public speech made by the opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian since the post-election violence on March 1st.

Opposition Congress, May 2, 2008 | Source: Unzipped

While speculating, that anyone “who made claims that they received 65% of the votes, accuses the present government of being murderers [] but is not presenting evidence to back his claims, can not be taken seriously“, Martuni or Bust!!! looks at the overall context of the opposition congress, concluding:

It looks as if things have not really settled down since the fraudulent elections and the killing of March 1st. The noticeable unrest is going longer than I was expecting and who knows, maybe this time around the truth really will come out and those who need to be put in their place will finally get what they have coming.

Bringing a more comprehensive analysis, the Caucasus Knot speculates, that “the radical opposition appears ready to negotiate with the authorities in order to prevent a repeat of the post-election violence which left at least 10 dead“, and concludes, that this first public speech by Ter-Petrossian since the March 1 disturbances “certainly represents a more conciliatory line“:

Interestingly, Ter-Petrossian was reportedly more conciliatory towards the new president, Serge Sargsyan. [] Ter-Petrossian instead directed his main attack on the former president, Robert Kocharian. Whether his words mark a realization from Ter-Petrossian that the radical opposition is unable to contest the outcome of the vote on the streets is a moot point.
[]

Whatever the view, however, and whatever the numbers, there is the basis for discussion and negotiations in the form of Council of Europe Resolution 1609. In particular, it calls on the radical opposition to recognize the constitutional court ruling confirming the results of the presidential election as well as on the government to release those detained on purely political grounds. Another demand is for an independent inquiry into the 1 March riot to be held.

Marking the fact, that Levon Ter-Petrossian has “effectively expressed readiness for a dialogue based on PACE recommendations”, pro-opposition blogger Unzipped disagrees with the statement, “directly accepting PACE call to opposition to recognise the Constitutional Court’s decision which approved the election results” in the opposition leader’s speech, speculating, that:

“Fraud in elections was the main reason which sparked the protests, and ‘acceptance’ of its results for practical reasons to move forward cannot be considered as a precondition (and never presented as such by PACE) but rather a part of a final outcome of negotiations (with a package of measures aimed at democratisation of Armenian society).”

Known for his outspoken dislike of the first president, Pigh has singled out some soundbites in Ter-Petrossian’s speech, hinting, that such approaches are inconsistent with the “role” of the opposition leader, and are making him a “tool”, which works more in favor of the ruling Republican and ARF-Dashnaktsutyun parties:

Republican-Tool
One [of the soundbites] was directed at the US Government and the “Millenium Challanges” corporation, calling upon them to abstain from cutting aid to Armenia, as it will hurt the people, not the authorities..
Dashnak-Tool
Secondly – the first president spoke about the neighboring Azerbaijan in particular, noting, that Baku has to finally realize, that regardless the internal political situation in Armenia, “it would meet with a united resistance of the Armenian people in the event of unleashing a military aggression against Karabakh”

Interestingly, the issue of US assitance to Armenia has also drawn criticism from the highly pro-Ter-Petrossian blogger, Nazarian:

In the speech below, Levon Ter-Petrosian is against some of the things I have been advocating such as the stopping of the US economic aid to Armenia. I disagree with him and will continue to push for the (hopefully short term) halt of American taxpayer money propping up the banditocracy in Armenia. One of the best ways to modify someone’s behavior is through financial (dis)incentives.

And while Uzogh wonders, what has really triggered such a drastic change in LTP’s perceptions of current political realities, Unzipped on his turn, highlights the importance of the authorities’ response to opposition leaders apparent call for dialogue based on Counil of Europe Parliamentary Assembley recommendations:

How serious is Armenian government in terms of making necessary reforms and changes in accordance with the PACE recommendations, and engaging in a dialogue with the opposition, will be known on 10 May when a committee created by a decree of Serj Sargsyan will present its action plan.

Here’s the Podcast of the Armenian version of this post.