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Armenian Government In No Rush To Resume Talks With Opposition

Davit Harutiunian, the ruling coalition in Armenia's chief negotiator
Davit Harutiunian, the ruling coalition in Armenia's chief negotiator
YEREVAN -- Armenia's governing coalition says it will not plead for renewed negotiations with the Armenian National Congress (HAK) despite the end of demonstrations by that opposition alliance, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Davit Harutiunian, ruling coalition's the chief negotiator, said on October 10 that the onus is on the National Congress to restart the talks which it suspended in late August to protest the controversial arrest of an opposition activist.

National Congress leader Levon Ter-Petrossian offered to resume the dialogue without any preconditions when his bloc set up a tent camp in Yerevan's Liberty Square on September 30. Coalition representatives said this could happen only after the end of the "illegal" protests.

The National Congress responded by stating that it would not return to the negotiating table without a formal request from Armenian authorities. Ter-Petrossian reaffirmed this condition as he called an end to the nonstop protests on October 8.

"We believe that there always exist important topics for discussion," Harutiunian told RFE/RL. "But we are absolutely not going to request their discussion within the framework of the dialogue."

"A dialogue must reflect the conscious will and desire of two sides.... I think that once the opposition realizes this we could again speak of dialogue," he said. "It would premature to speak of that until that time."

Harutiunian, who chairs the parliament's committee on legal affairs, also scoffed at Ter-Petrossian's remark that President Serzh Sarkisian's immediate resignation will now be the National Congress's "main slogan."

Delegations representing the two rival camps held six rounds of negotiations in July and August after Sarkisian made a number of concessions to the National Congress. Those included the release of the last opposition members remaining in jail on charges related to the 2008 postelection violence in Yerevan.

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