President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) hit out at its most important coalition partner on Monday for suggesting that the HHK could have been headed by former President Robert Kocharian.
Gagik Tsarukian, a Kocharian-linked businessman leading the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), made the claim on Saturday as he sought to dismiss media speculation that the ex-president is keen to take over his party.
“Robert Kocharian has never wanted to have a party or to be a party leader,” Tsarukian told journalists. “If he had wanted to, he would have been the honorary or actual chairman of the Republican Party.”
Kocharian never regarded political parties as “anybody’s property” and always promoted “competition” among them, said the tycoon whose party is represented in Sarkisian’s government by four ministers.
The remark clearly did not go down well with the HHK leadership. “I don’t find constructive public musings about who could have been the leader of your partner party,” HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said, commenting on it.
“The Republican Party has never spoken with ‘ifs’ with our partners from Prosperous Armenia or Mr. Tsarukian. Accordingly, I would advise Mr. Tsarukian to do the same,” Sharmazanov told a news conference. He emphasized that the HHK is “consolidated around Serzh Sarkisian.”
Sharmazanov’s response was arguably the first ever instance of the HHK officially attacking Tsarukian. It will fuel more speculation about mounting tensions between Armenia’s two main governing parties. Their leaders have denied that.
In particular, Sarkisian dismissed in December rumors that the BHK is under pressure to pledge support for his 2013 reelection bid or quit the government. “I have never talked to anyone with ultimatums, especially to my partners,” he said.
Both parties have expressed their intention to win parliamentary elections due in 2012. The BHK has said it will field its own candidate in the 2013 presidential ballot if it gains a parliamentary majority.