Ter-Petrosyan’s message: ANC not to challenge Eurasian integration

Armenia’s former president and current leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) Levon Ter-Petrosyan said at a rally in Yerevan on March 1 that Armenia’s membership in the Customs Union is irreversible, while European integration is not possible in the foreseeable future.

In fact, the opposition force led by Ter-Petrosyan will not oppose the transfer of part of the sovereign rights of Armenia to supranational bodies of the future Eurasian Union. Nor are another two non-coalitional forces in the parliament, Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) and ARF Dashnaktsutyun, likely to oppose it. Ter-Petrosyan is going to cooperate with them, especially with PAP leader Gagik Tsarukyan, whom the ANC previously accused of being involved in the violent dispersal of peaceful protests after the presidential elections in 2008.

These forces, along with Heritage, which opposes Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union, as their political task see a change of power in Armenia. However, the ANC, PAP and ARF want to do it in order to “maximally use the opportunities of the Customs Union for the benefit of [Armenia’s] national interests, maximally excluding the negative aspects”, as Ter-Petrosyan said at the rally.

“The regime of [President] Serzh Sargsyan, first of all, lacks the understanding of national interests to be able to fulfill such a mission [to join the CU]. National interests and the Sargsyan regime are incompatible concepts. The impression is that we deal with a group of foreign invaders or robbers who have seized power by force,” Ter-Petrosyan claimed.

Without challenging the ‘general’ policy of Sargsyan, the opposition leader described the gas contracts signed by Armenia with the Russia side as ‘vassal’, saying it was a mistake. He also called the debt of $300 million to Russia accumulated on account of natural gas supplies that resulted in the transfer of the remaining 20-percent stake in the domestic gas distribution network to Gazprom, a ‘secret state crime’. Another criminal step by the authorities, according to Ter-Petrosyan, is the sale of the Vorotan HPP cascade “at a reduced price, bypassing the law and the budget.” This was the last step to deprive Armenia of its energy independence, “a crime of the century”, as he put it.

At the same time, Ter-Petrosyan did not call for a revolution, on the contrary, he said that Armenia “cannot afford a civil war’. “We are not so many as the Egyptians and the Ukrainians, we are not a nation that has no problem like Karabakh to afford a civil war,” he said, stressing that the ANC is for a peaceful change of power.

The leader of the ANC’s faction in parliament Levon Zurabyan pointed at the way to change the government - the main non-governing political forces in the country – the ANC, the PAP, ARF Dashnaktsutyun and Heritage – have created a united front against the current government. It is not ruled out that in the same format they will raise the issue of President Sargsyan’s resignation, Zurabyan said.