Haykakan Zhamanak, Armenia
March 3 2011


Armenian ruling faction head says opposition demands should be "neglected"

[translated from Armenian]

Demands of the opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) set before
the authorities at the ANC's 1 March rally should be "neglected", said
the head of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia faction, Galust
Sahakyan.

The ANC, which held a rally on 1 March in Armenia's capital Yerevan to
mark the anniversary of 1 March 2008 post-election disturbances, set
demands comprised of 15 points to the authorities, demanding the
release of "political prisoners", raising salaries and social
benefits, sacking the prime minister and some security officials and
giving up the "bellicose" position in the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict
settlement. Sahakyan said the authorities are aware of "protest" moods
among the public, at the same time downplaying the significance of the
protests.

"I believe they [the demands] should be neglected, because they put
forward unfair demands. A political force [the RPA] should not be
addressed in such a way," Sahakyan told the paper. The leader of the
ruling faction said the authorities had offered political dialogue to
the ANC in the past, but the ANC said there were "political prisoners"
in Armenia and that it would talk to the authorities after these
prisoners were released. Sahakyan said the government is telling the
ANC that these prisoners "are not political".

Sahakyan said protest moods are necessary for society's development,
adding that the government is aware of such moods. "Even if this rally
had not taken place [the ANC rally on 1 March 2011], we know very well
that there are protesting masses," Sahakyan told the paper. He said
people attend ANC rallies because they simply want to protest and not
because they follow the ANC's political ideas. "That is there was no
ideology behind the rally's logic and there was no political issue.
They are people, they protest. And I do not believe there will be
major results where there are no ideas," Sahakyan added.

The ANC's coordinator, Levon Zurabyan, said the first reaction of the
authorities to the ANC's demands was "manly". "The first manly
reaction is clear, but we proposed a serious political process, and I
do not think that any mature political or state figure should produce
a manly reaction to a proposal," Zurabyan told the paper commenting on
Sahakyan's remarks.




From: A. Papazian