YEREVAN (A.W.)—On Feb. 17, a meeting took place between Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) leader Gagik Tsarukyan. Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun (ARF-D) Member of Parliament Aghvan Vardanyan told CivilNet that the ARF-D has done everything in its power to find a solution to the recent escalation in tensions between the two parties, in order to ensure that the country is not faced with major consequences.
Vardanyan refused to comment on the outcome of the meeting and told reporters that each side will release its own statement soon.
Following the meeting, ARF Bureau member Armen Rustamyan told 168.am., “We have continuously said that sharp edges need to be smoothed out, that we are on the side of improving relations, and that we have exerted our humble efforts in that regard. We are pleased that the meeting has finally taken place, that communication is advancing, and that the ice is melting,”
The meeting comes in the wake of rising tensions between the ruling regime and the PAP. Sarkisian criticized Tsarukyan at a Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) Council meeting on Feb. 12. After a session of the Executive Council of the PAP the following day, Tsarukyan responded to Sarkisian’s criticisms and called on the citizens of Armenia to “prepare for struggle.”
Several members of PAP were arrested last night. Officers raided the home of Parliament member (MP) Rustam Gasparyan and conducted a thorough search, according to reports.
According to PAP MP Elinar Vartanyan, the Arabkir, Maralik, and Shengavit district office directors of the party have also been arrested, as has Artur Mamoyan, the Nor Nork district PAP office director, on suspicion of carrying an unlicensed firearm.
Rustamyan voiced his belief that the recent political tensions have entered a new and dangerous stage and can have irreversible repercussions for the country. “We could lose everything,” said Rustamyan, in a recent interview, citing that the battle between the PAP and the RPA confirm the ARF-D’s grave concerns about the political landscape of the country.
Rustamyan had also confirmed that the ARF-D has been working hard to bring together the two sides and broker an agreement. “Although I will not give details about our efforts, I can say that we have been using our contacts and hope to succeed,” Rustamyan told Yerkir.am.
The ARF-D is steadfast in its belief that constitutional reforms are needed in the country. However, political conflicts and snap elections will not solve the issue, according to Rustamyan. He believes the only way conditions will change is if all sides come to the table and discuss the issue of constitutional and electoral reform. “We should make our demands clear to the regime. If there is unity in our demands, then the authorities will not have any reason to deny us,” said Rustamyan.
On Jan. 15, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and member of the RPA announced that his party is ready to discuss the ARF-D’s proposals for constitutional reforms. “I have examined the proposals, and I must say that the ARF-D did serious work. There are proposals that I agree with, and there are proposals that can become a topic for discussion. There might be proposals that the RPA won’t agree with, but the fact remains that the [they] are written by professionals…in which the interests of the state are placed above the interests of political parties,” Sharmazanov explained.
According to Sharmazanov, the proposed constitutional reforms are very important and worthy of consideration. “In this sense, I think the Dashnaktsutyun’s proposals are worth discussing. Of course, there are issues on which the RPA has its own views, but they are issues that can be discussed. I’m certain that we can solve all those issues through discussions,” he added.
Rustamyan explained that the ARF-D is not getting ready to join a coalition with the RPA after President Sarkisian’s withdrawal of the Turkey-Armenia protocols from Parliament. According to Rustamyan, the recalling of the protocols was just one of seven demands the ARF-D has presented to the government. “If there are real steps taken towards the realization of those seven points, then we [the ARF-D] is ready to co-operate with anyone ready to work with us, said Rustamyan. He also urged members of all parties to join the ARF-D when they sit at the bargaining table with authorities.