Uncompromising Opposition Stance Hinders Success of Upcoming Dialogue

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s government coalition partners put forth a four-point agenda for its upcoming dialogue with the opposition.

The three political parties of the coalition suggested that the two sides try to reach an agreement on reforming Armenia’s constitution; formulating election legislation to fully correspond to international criteria; working out models for active participation of opposition in the fight against corruption; and cooperate in complying with recent resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). In a joint statement–the parliamentary leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–Orinats Yerkir–and Republican parties said these issues must be at the heart of the dialogue strongly encouraged by the PACE and the United States.

The opposition Artarutyun (Justice) bloc and the National Unity Party (AMK) have called for discussions on "ways of overcoming the political crisis in Armenia resulting from the 2003 elections," which they believe were rigged by the authorities. The coalition leaders said they will agree to include the issue on the agenda of the talks if the word "crisis" is changed to "situation."

The first official negotiations are scheduled for Thursday.

Regardless of the outcome of the talks–however–opposition leaders said their rallies in Yerevan would resume on Friday–and would continue to campaign for Kocharian’s resignation

The uncompromising stance led one of the top coalition figures–deputy parliament speaker Tigran Torosian–to seriously question the opposition’s commitment to the dialogue. "I don’t think the negotiations will last too long–and I am not particularly optimistic about their results," Torosian said.

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