YEREVAN — Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian warned President Serzh Sarkisian against making an unpopular peace deal with Azerbaijan as his Armenian National Congress (HAK) launched what it called a “new wave” of anti-government street protests late on Friday.
Addressing thousands of supporters, Ter-Petrosian said regime change remains the principal aim of his Armenian National Congress alliance. He said a dialogue between the HAK and the country’s leadership is now conditional not only on the release of his loyalists remaining in jail but also a proper investigation into the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.
Ter-Petrosian claimed that Armenia is facing a “forced solution” to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict because it has ceased to be Russia’s sole ally in the region. Citing Russia’s warming ties with Azerbaijan and Turkey, he spoke of the ongoing emergence of a “Russian-Turkish-Azerbaijani format” which he said will effectively drive the United States and France out of the Karabakh peace process and seek a pro-Azerbaijani settlement of the dispute.
Ter-Petrosian portrayed the reported sale of Russian S-300 air-defense missiles to Azerbaijan and the extension of Russia’s lease on a military base in Armenia as an indication that Moscow is “infinitely increasing its role in the Karabakh settlement process.” The leader of the country’s largest opposition force, whose public pronouncements have been quite sympathetic to the Kremlin until now, avoided passing judgment on the Russian-Armenian defense accord.
“On behalf of the Armenian National Congress, I am declaring that although we stand for a quick settlement of the Karabakh conflict, we will resolutely act against any settlement plan in which the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is not presented as a conflicting party as well as any peace accord not signed by the latter’s representative,” he said. Such an accord must also be put on a referendum in both Armenia and Karabakh, he added.
“Sarkisian did not receive a popular mandate to make any concession … because he is simply not an elected president,” continued Ter-Petrosian. “Therefore, he has no right whatsoever to make any decision, issue a decree, ratify a law or sign an agreement. All decisions, decrees, laws and agreements signed by him until now are devoid of legal force.”
Ter-Petrosian stood by his view, articulated in a June speech, that the unresolved disputes with Azerbaijan and Turkey are an “insurmountable obstacle” to Armenia’s long-term security and economic development. But he rejected government loyalists’ claims that he himself would agree to Karabakh’s return under Azerbaijani rule.
Ter-Petrosian again claimed that Sarkisian’s resignation and the holding of snap presidential and parliamentary elections is the only way to save the country from “destruction.” Regime change therefore remains the HAK’s supreme goal, he said.
Ter-Petrosian announced that his alliance uniting about two dozen opposition groups is now entering “a new period of struggle” that will involve more frequent and vocal actions. The HAK’s next “national” rally will be held on October 15, he said.

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