By Ruzanna Stepanian
Aram Sarkisian, a radical opposition leader, said on Thursday that his Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party is “very likely” to form an alliance with other pro-Western opposition groups ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections.
“That we will form an alliance during the pre-election period with forces that are in clear opposition and not very different from us in the ideological sense is out of question,” Sarkisian told RFE/RL in an interview.
He said among Hanrapetutyun’s potential allies are parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir party, former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun party as well as the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh).
All of those forces stand for Armenia’s deeper integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Some openly advocate the country’s eventual accession to NATO. In particular, Orinats Yerkir has reportedly been in talks with Hanrapetutyun and Zharangutyun over the possibility of forming an electoral alliance since its ouster from the governing coalition last spring.
“Formation of pre-election alliances is not ruled out,” Baghdasarian told RFE/RL earlier this month. But he said no agreements have been reached yet.
Sarkisian was also reluctant to elaborate on the format of the possible alliance which could be a major election contender. “We consider naming concrete parties premature at this juncture,” he said.
It remains to be seen whether Baghdasarian and Hovannisian will be willing to team up with the HHSh and other allies of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian whom many Armenians continue to associate with economic hardship of the early 1990s. Most major opposition parties have so far avoided any cooperation with the HHSh for that reason.
Sarkisian, however, makes no secret of his admiration for the man who led Armenia to independence from the Soviet Union and governed it until 1998. “The Hanrapetutyun party has always expressed positive views about the first President Levon Ter-Petrosian,” he said on Thursday. “When Levon Ter-Petrosian himself decides to enter the political arena, we will definitely welcome that. I personally would like him to enter the political arena.”
Ter-Petrosian has kept a very low profile since losing power more than eight years ago, ignoring his allies’ calls to return to active politics.