By Ruzanna Stepanian
The ruling Republican Party (HHK) chided one of its two junior coalition partners, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), on Thursday for increasingly distancing itself from a government in which it is represented by three ministers.
An HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, insisted that Dashnaktsutyun is part of Armenia’s current leadership despite its leaders’ opposition-style discourse, which is intensifying ahead of next year’s presidential elections.
Some of those leaders have described their party as “an alternative to both the government and the opposition.” One of them, Hrant Markarian, has gone as far as to declare that Dashnaktsutyun is in “positive opposition” to the HHK-led government.
Sharmazanov scoffed at such statements, pouring more fuel on growing friction between the two coalition partners largely united by their loyalty to President Robert Kocharian. “I don’t agree with the view that having three ministers, the post of deputy chairman of the National Assembly, Dashnaktsutyun is in ‘positive opposition,’” he said. “A party with three ministerial positions can’t be an alternative to the government and the opposition by definition.”
“Such a force is a de facto part of the government,” he added.
Dashnaktsutyun underlined its unwillingness to be associated with the HHK and its leader, Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, in particular following the parliamentary elections held in May. It made clear that it will bear responsibility only for the work of three government ministries headed by Dashnaktsutyun members.
Armen Rustamian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, said on Wednesday that his party has “strategic differences” with the HHK mainly stemming from what he described as a slow pace of the country’s development. He said it is ready to recall or suspend its three ministers if the Republicans can not put up with Dashnaktsutyun’s failure to endorse Sarkisian and nominate its own presidential candidate instead.
According to Sharmazanov, the HHK has no problem with that. “We find it normal that any political force can have its own presidential candidate,” he told reporters.
(Photolur photo: Armen Rustamian, left, Serzh Sarkisian and Prosperous Armenia Party leder Gagik Tsarukian sign a power-sharing agreement in June.)