By Hovannes Shoghikian
Former parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian said on Friday that he still does not know which ministerial positions will be offered to his Orinats Yerkir Party as part of its power-sharing agreement with Prime Minister and President-elect Serzh Sarkisian.
Orinats Yerkir is one of four pro-establishment parties that are expected to be represented in a new coalition government which Sarkisian plans to form after his inauguration on April 9. In a joint communiqué, they pledged to “deepen democratic reforms” in Armenia and speed up its economic development.
However, it is still not clear who will head and make up the cabinet. Hrant Markarian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), told RFE/RL on Wednesday that the four parties are discussing its composition and have not reached agreement yet.
But according to Baghdasarian, such discussions have not even started. “Immediately after the inauguration of the newly elected president we will have an opportunity to discuss the format of the coalition government and other issues,” he said.
Baghdasarian, who was a major opposition candidate in the February 19 presidential election, recognized Sarkisian’s victory in the disputed vote and agreed to join the new governing coalition even before the announcement of the four-party agreement. Sarkisian promised to appoint him as secretary of Armenia’s National Security Council.
Speaking at a news conference, Baghdasarian insisted that his decision to bring Orinats Yerkir back into government was not incompatible with strong criticism of the Armenian authorities that was voiced in his pre-election speeches. In particular, he alleged during the election campaign that the authorities are deliberately keeping many Armenians mired in poverty in order to be able to buy their votes.
“We have entered the government for the sake of reforms,” the Orinats Yerkir leader argued on Friday. “Also, the essence of the government has changed.”
“I have presented my political demands to the person who has assumed the post of president of the republic and who has offered dignified cooperation, taking into account the votes garnered by me,” he said.
Baghdasarian also expressed confidence that his decision to team up with Sarkisian did not disappoint and alienate most of about 260,000 Armenians who, according to official election results, voted for him. “There isn’t much discontent [among them,]” he said. “The vast majority of the people think very positively of our decision.”