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Armenian Opposition Leader Warns Against Karabakh Concessions

Ruben Hakobian (file photo)
Ruben Hakobian (file photo)
YEREVAN -- An Armenian opposition official says any resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that includes an Armenian withdrawal from occupied districts of Azerbaijan would lead to President Serzh Sarkisian's resignation, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Ruben Hakobian, the deputy chairman of the Zharangutyun (Heritage) Party, told RFE/RL that "even the slightest change in the status quo [in the conflict zone] would seriously escalate the situation in Armenia, which I think would result in regime change."

He said "it is very possible that preterm elections will take place in Armenia and that would mainly be conditioned by the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict. The return of any [Azerbaijani] district, any liberated territory, would be met with serious opposition in Armenia and Artsakh."

Unlike Sarkisian and his government, Zharangutyun is strongly opposed to the current peace proposals for Nagorno-Karabakh. Called the "Madrid principles," they call for an Armenian withdrawal from Azerbaijani districts bordering the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh republic, the breakaway Azerbaijani territory that has been ruled by Armenians since 1994.

Zharangutyun has also been highly critical of Sarkisian's policy of rapprochement with Turkey.

Hakobian, who left the nationalist Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) to join Zharangutyun earlier this year, said leadership change in Armenia is essential for a "radical change" of the country's current policies.

"Even if these authorities want to get out of the negotiating process, they can't do that. They can't radically change their position and reject the [international mediators'] Madrid principles," he said. "Only a new government can do that."

Hakobian told RFE/RL that ground-breaking developments in the Karabakh negotiating process are the only factor that could seriously threaten Sarkisian's hold on power. "Right now the opposition lacks the strength and necessary unity to trigger fresh elections," he said.