By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) appeared to have failed to agree the terms for their party’s continued presence in Armenia’s government during nearly two hours of negotiations with President Robert Kocharian on Wednesday.
The meeting between Kocharian and two top Dashnaktsutyun leaders, Armen Rustamian and Hrant Markarian, was part of ongoing talks over the make-up of a new coalition cabinet which Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian is trying to form as a result of the May 12 parliamentary elections.
“Negotiations are continuing and we have not yet reached agreement on a number of issues,” Rustamian told reporters after emerging from the presidential palace in Yerevan.
Rustamian refused to give details, saying only that disagreements do not center on the ministerial positions offered to Dashnaktsutyun. At issue are the center-left nationalist party’s “new proposals and approaches” on how the new government should function, he said.
In a Tuesday interview with RFE/RL, Markarian indicated that Dashnaktsutyun is seeking a greater say in the formulation of key government policies and does not want to be an “appendage” of Sarkisian’s and Republican Party (HHK), the election winner.
Rustamian claimed that he and Markarian did not discuss with Kocharian the possibility of Dashnaktsutyun support for Sarkisian’s participation in next year’s presidential election. “Discussions have not yet reached that point yet,” he said. “There are very serious issues relating to general issues, principles.”
Local observers have speculated that Sarkisian, whose party won an outright majority in parliament, is ready to share power with Dashnaktsutyun only on the condition that the latter commits itself to endorsing his 2008 presidential bid.
Rustamian said in that regard that his party stands by its earlier statements that it will not back Sarkisian for the presidency and will nominate its own presidential candidate instead. “That also means retaining our political independence,” he said. “That is the most important thing for any political force.”
(Photolur photo: Armen Rustamian.)