In what appears to be another concession to the Armenian National Congress (HAK), President Serzh Sarkisian and his three-party governing coalition have formed an ad hoc team tasked with holding talks with the opposition alliance.
Sarkisian’s spokesman Armen Arzumanian told News.am on Saturday that the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and its two junior coalition partners, the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Orinats Yerkir parties, will each appoint two members of the “working group.”
“The first working discussion [with the HAK] could be organized already in the next ten days,” Arzumanian said.
The potentially significant development is part of an unfolding dialogue between Armenia’s political leadership and largest opposition force, which was made possible by a series of concessions made by Sarkisian in April and May. Those included the release of all HAK loyalists remaining in prison.
The two sides have still not held any face-to-face meetings on ways of easing political tensions in Armenia. The HAK insists that the dialogue should take the form of formal negotiations between special delegations formed for that purpose. Sarkisian and the HHK rejected this format until recently.
But in a June 17 statement, the president said that the two rival sides could discuss pressing issues facing Armenia “through specially designated individuals.” He said representatives of the HHK, the BHK and Orinats Yerkir could “sit down at the negotiation table” with an HAK delegation set up in early June.
The ruling HHK will be represented in the “working group” by Davit Harutiunian and Gagik Minasian, the chairmen of the Armenian parliament committees on legal affairs and economic policy respectively.
The BHK also appointed two senior lawmakers to the group. One of them, Naira Zohrabian, described the dialogue as an important milestone in the “formation of a new political culture of mutual tolerance” in the country.

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