YEREVAN—In a rare press conference with Armenia’s broadcast media representatives on Monday, President Serzh Sarkisian said that if he were to meet with opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian, he would ask him to end his hunger strike.
Hovannisian is on the eighth day of a hunger strike, which he announced on March 10 and asked Sarkisian to acknowledge the will of the Armenian people and to meet him at Liberty Square to discuss Armenia’s post-election situation.
Sarkisian said he would not visit Hovannisian in Liberty Square, adding “I ask myself: what should I talk to Raffi Hovannisian about? What should I negotiate on with a man who is bitter at the world and has been hungry for eight days?”
“If I were to go [to the square] I would do that for one purpose: to once again urge and ask Raffi Hovannisian to end the hunger strike and choose other methods of struggle. I’m doing it now.” he said. “Raffi Hovannisian, I am communicating to you end it; I implore you, I ask you…”
“But you know, there is aother very important circumstance: I don’t know the purpose for which Raffi Hovannisian went on hunger strike,” added Sarkisian.
During his meeting with broadcast journalists, Sarkisian went on to enumerate some of the suggestion he made to Hovannisian during their face-to-face meeting days after the presidential elections on February 21.
Sarkisain said after rejecting Hovannisian’s suggestion to call snap parliamentary elections and have a run-off of the presidential voter, he told Hovannisian that he had three options.
First: To go to Liberty Square and continue to insist that he has garnered 80 percent of the votes and attempts to create alternative structures to the authorities. In this scenario, Sarkisian said, law enforcement agencies would do what they have been tasked to do.
Second: Raffi Hovannisian continues to insist that the elections were not fair and that in reality he has garnered a higher percentage of the votes than officially announced. He then fortifies his ranks and takes part in the Yerevan municipal elections garnering the majority of the votes and becomes Mayor of Yerevan, thus the leader of two-thirds of the Republic.
Third: He ceases being part of the opposition and works within government structures to combat corruption and emigration, as he pledged during his campaign.
Sarkisian’s press secretary reported that he would continue meetings with journalists. The next one is expected to be with representatives of the online media community.