By Ruzanna Stepanian
The three members of Armenia’s government representing the Orinats Yerkir Party were in no rush to step down on Friday despite its leadership’s decision to leave the ruling coalition.
At least one of them made it clear that he prefers his government post to continued membership in the party led by the outgoing speaker of the Armenian parliament, Artur Baghdasarian. Minister for Urban Development Aram Harutiunian told RFE/RL that he will not quit because he thinks “the government is satisfied with my work.” He said he will end his membership in Orinats Yerkir instead.
Harutiunian disagreed with those who believe that his decision amounts to betrayal of a political force that made him a government minister at the age of 36 almost two years ago. “I think everything is being done honestly,” he said. “If we accept that logic [and leave the government], the coalition could say that we have betrayed it. So I think it’s wrong to put the issue on that plane.”
Another Orinats Yerkir member of the cabinet, Culture Minister Gevorg Gevorgian, seemed to be leaning towards a defection. “I don’t see such need,” Gevorgian told RFE/RL when asked whether he plans to resign. “If I do, I won’t cling to my post,” he added ambiguously.
The third official, Science and Education Minister Sergo Yeritsian, declined a comment, suggesting that he has not yet made a decision. Yeritsian is one of the key founding members of Orinats Yerkir and has been a close associate of Baghdasarian until now.
Baghdasarian’s party has controlled the three ministries under a June 2003 power-sharing agreement which Kocharian, the Republican Party of Armenia and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. The deal also enabled it to name several deputy ministers and two provincial governors. It remains to be seen whether those officials will prove more loyal to Baghdasarian.
(Photolur photos: Aram Harutiunian, left, and Gevorg Gevorgian.)