YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Serzh Sarkisian unexpectedly met with opposition leader and former President Levon Ter-Petrosian on Saturday to discuss Armenia’s response to the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
A statement by the presidential press office said Sarkisian visited Ter-Petrosian’s private residence in Yerevan and spoke with one of his most bitter political opponents for about an hour.
The statement said their conversation “solely applied to the recent events on the Karabakh-Azerbaijani border” and “forthcoming developments anticipated in the Karabakh negotiation process.” They also discussed the “need for a national consolidation in the face of those challenges,” it said.
“The meeting was initiated by Levon Ter-Petrosian,” noted the statement. It gave no other details.
Neither Ter-Petrosian nor his Armenian National Congress (HAK), a major opposition party, immediately issued any statements on the surprise meeting.
Ter-Petrosian, who served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998, has been a harsh critic of Sarkisian ever since he staged a political comeback in 2007. The two men were the main candidates in a 2008 presidential election that was marred by a bloody government crackdown on Ter-Petrosian’s opposition movement.
The hotly disputed ballot formalized a handover of power from Ter-Petrosian’s successor Robert Kocharian to Sarkisian.
Both Kocharian and Sarkisian held key posts in the Ter-Petrosian administration. They were also instrumental in his resignation in 1998.