YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation on Tuesday rejected fresh calls from former President Levon Ter-Petrosian to form an opposition coalition behind his Armenian National Congress, pointing to ulterior motives behind the opposition leader’s proposal.
Addressing thousands of supporters in Yerevan on Friday, Ter-Petrosian said that his Armenian National Congress cannot topple President Serzh Sarkisian without the support of other major political groups. In a bid to win them over, he said he is ready not to contest a fresh presidential election that would be called in the event of Sarkisian’s resignation.
Vahan Hovannesian, the leader of ARF’s faction in parliament, shrugged off the offer as a political move with ulterior motives. “It’s very nice to say something which you know won’t happen,” he said. “After saying that you look noble.”
Hovannesian brushed aside Ter-Petrosian’s criticism of Sarkisian and his overtures to Ankara, saying that in reality the opposition leader has very similar views on Turkish-Armenian relations.
“People [in power] are doing something which he wouldn’t mind doing, and they will fail in that endeavor,” the ARF leader told a news conference. “He probably thinks that [in that case] he will take over power and say, ‘Well, guys, they’ve already messed up everything and there is nothing I can do, so let’s move on.’ But I think that’s also a wrong calculation.”
The ARF already rejected cooperation offers made by Ter-Petrosian following the Congress’s worse-than-expected showing in the May 31 municipal elections in Yerevan.
The ARF opposed Ter-Petrosian in the early 1990s, when his administration sought to enact conciliatory policies on Turkey and Karabakh similar to those being pursued by the Sarkisian administration. The party was controversially banned during Ter-Petrosian’s 1991-1998 presidency.
The ARF is currently not seeking Sarkisian’s resignation but has condemned his failing policy on Turkey. Hovannesian did not exclude that the party, which quit Sarkisian’s governing coalition in April, will campaign for regime change if Armenia’s ongoing rapprochement with Turkey continues “in an irreversible way.”