YEREVAN – Mainstream opposition leader and Armenia’s founding father Levon Ter-Petrosian announced at a recent opposition rally that the suspended dialog with the authorities can be resumed if government displays initiative first. Head of the Armenian National Congress stated key conditions that need to be provided for the rapprochement to take place which include making the first phone call by the government, calling opposition leader “Mr. Opposition Leader” and a controversial dress code on part of the government delegation.
“It is the future of Armenia at stake”, says Ter-Petrosian, “The authorities need to understand that it is not politically adult to argue about who makes the first step or call at a critical time like this. The Armenian National Congress (ANC) is determined to wait as long as it takes for the Coalition to find political maturity and make that first step”.
The government allies have expressed skeptically about the prospect of a dialog unless the conditions set forward by the opposition are removed. Coalition has specifically ruled out the one conditions they find utterly unacceptable which is ‘making the first phone call’.
“Obviously we are not thrilled about the proposed unconventional dress code or form of reference (Mr. Opposition Leader – edit.) that opposition demands,” says government delegation coordinator David Harutyunyan. “But all that could be smoothed out, if they (opposition – edit.) don’t turn the whole thing into a farce by expecting us to make the first phone call.”
“It is absolutely clear that last time it was the Coalition that made the first phone call to set up a meeting with the ANC to discuss Armenia’s future. Now it’s opposition’s turn. It is embarrassing to see an allegedly serious political force not engaging in a political process and possibly putting the future of the country in peril just because just because they lack the sense of responsibility to make the first phone call”, Harutyunyan stressed.
Experts believe the political situation is in a deadlock and needs urgent intervention and brokering by foreign forces. Political analyst Alexander Iskandaryan believes any initiative by either party to make the first move will undermine their public credit. “There is no political force in Armenia that can make the first step. It is a known fact in Armenian politics that whoever stretches a hand first – is a pussy,” says Iskandaryan (translated from husky Russian).
“Sometimes, not threatening to topple a political opponent for a long time is considered highly pussy, as well, not to mention initiating a verbal communication”, explains Iskandaryan. “This is why not a single presidential campaign in Armenia’s 20-year-old modern history has featured key candidates debating about real issues prior to elections . All we can hope for now is some support from international community or, best case, an European Council delegate to broker talks”.
The EC office in Yerevan has issued a brief announcement to the political forces in Armenia stating that ” European Council does not recognize making the first move towards a political dialog is in anyway pussy”. This, however, had little effect, as the indigenous political tradition views heeding a European advice as inherently pussy for a true Armenian party.