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Armenian Nationalist Leader Hails President's 'Audacity' On Turkey

Aghvan Vartanian
Aghvan Vartanian
YEREVAN -- A leading member of an opposition Armenian nationalist party today praised President Serzh Sarkisian's decision to suspend
the normalization process with Turkey, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Aghvan Vartanian is a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), which has been a vocal critic of Sarkisian's policy toward Turkey. Its senior representatives have said Yerevan should have formally abandoned the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement protocols, instead of only suspending the parliamentary ratification procedure.

But Vartanian was more positive about the move, saying that the protocols are now "effectively dead" and that Armenians should therefore "appreciate the president's audacity."

"Of course, we could have shut the door, rescinded our signature, and that would have been right," Vartanian said at a news conference on April 28. "But unfortunately, our country is still not that strong and independent...We are still not Turkey."

Meanwhile, former Dashnaktsutyun leader Ruben Hakobian has joined the more radical opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party nearly two years after being expelled from Dashnaktsutyun following his public criticism of its activities.

Stepan Safarian, a senior Zharangutyun member, told RFE/RL on April 28 that it was not a snap decision and that the party and Hakobian have a history of cooperating and share the same views on many key issues.

Dashnaktsutyun pulled out of the ruling coalition last year to protest Sarkisian's conciliatory policy on Turkey.