By Ruzanna Stepanian
The governing Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) called on Monday for a compromise agreement with the opposition that would give the latter a say in the country’s governance in return for an end to its campaign for regime change.
A statement by the party’s leadership said political tensions in Armenia are approaching “the dangerous threshold of an open confrontation” and must be defused by means of a “dialogue” between the authorities and the opposition. It suggested that their “mutual concessions” might include giving President Robert Kocharian’s foes representation in the presidential Security Council and reforming Armenia’s constitution and electoral legislation by consensus.
The opposition should instead stop questioning the legitimacy of Kocharian and his coalition government, according to the statement. Dashnaktsutyun said failure to find a compromise solution to the standoff is fraught with civil strife and other “destructive consequences.”
“Someone would then win and that would most probably be the authorities,” one of the nationalist party’s leaders, Armen Rustamian, warned in separate comments.
Predictably, the proposed deal was rejected by the leaders of the Artarutyun bloc and the National Unity Party, the country’s two main opposition groups. Artarutyun’s Stepan Demirchian said a dialogue with the ruling regime could only center on ways of holding a referendum of confidence in Kocharian suggested by the Constitutional Court in the wake of the latter’s disputed reelection last year.
“What dialogue are they talking about when there are mass arrests going on?” Demirchian said. “A chance of dialigue is a referendum of confidence. It has still not been lost.”
“We understand Dashnaktsutyun’s concerns, the situation is really serious. But the opposition struggle has never been for a few posts,” Demirchian added.
Kocharian, Dashnaktsutyun and the two other parties represented in Armenia’s coalition cabinet have repeatedly ruled out such a vote — a stance reaffirmed by Rustamian.
Significantly, the Dashnaktsutyun statement said at the heart of the deepening crisis is not only the opposition “intransigence” but also the authorities’ failure to ensure their opponents’ “full-fledged participation in the resolution of problems important for the country’s development.” It also admitted the “low effectiveness” of the government efforts to alleviate socioeconomic hardships.
Dashnaktsutyun, according to Rustamian, is even ready to give up its three ministerial posts “for the sake of stability in the country.”
The overall tone of the statement contrasted with strongly-worded remarks made by Dashnaktsutyun leaders last week when they effectively endorsed the controversial launch of criminal proceedings in connection with the ongoing anti-Kocharian rallies.