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Armenian Nationalists Hit Back At Ter-Petrosian Criticism

Opposition leader Ter-Petrosian has made overtures to President Sarkisian
Opposition leader Ter-Petrosian has made overtures to President Sarkisian
YEREVAN -- The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) is dismissing opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian's harsh criticism of its hard-line on Turkey and says he has ceased to be Armenia's top opposition leader after making overtures to President Serzh Sarkisian, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

In a landmark speech on November 11, Ter-Petrosian implied that he and his Armenian National Congress (HAK) are ready, in principle, to recognize Sarkisian's legitimacy if he agrees to cooperate with the opposition alliance on major challenges facing the country.

He also defended some key aspects of Sarkisian's policy on Turkey against attacks by Dashnaktsutyun and other "extreme nationalists."

Top HAK representatives confirmed on November 12 that the remarks were a cooperation offer addressed to the current Armenian leadership.

"He is offering the authorities a deal," scoffed Giro Manoyan, Dashnaktsutyun's foreign policy spokesman. Manoyan said Ter-Petrosian's extraordinary statements heralded the end of the HAK's "monopoly on opposition."

He told RFE/RL that Ter-Petrosian's statements show that his opposition group has not only lost that monopoly but "no longer lead the opposition.... There is now another opposition that is doing the job."

Manoyan referred to a Dashnaktsutyun-led coalition of a dozen mostly small opposition groups that have strongly condemned the Turkish-Armenian agreements to normalize bilateral relations that were signed last month.

That coalition was the main target of Ter-Petrosian's hour-long speech.

Former President Ter-Petrosian was particularly scathing about their insistence on future Armenian territorial claims in Turkey which seem to be precluded by the agreements.