Businessman Gagik Tsarukian sought on Wednesday to end an unfolding war of words between his Prosperous Armenia Party (HHK) and President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) that was sparked by his weekend remarks.
Tsarukian said his claim that former President Robert Kocharian could have easily taken over the HHK were misunderstood by the BHK’s senior partner in the governing coalition.
“I assure that with my statement I did not mean to offend the Republican Party and the HHK chairman,” he said in remarks aired by his Kentron TV station and cited by Armenian news agencies.
The influential tycoon referred to his January 29 conversation with journalists, during which he dismissed media speculation that Kocharian will soon officially head 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.”
The remark prompted a stern rebuke from top HHK representatives. Razmik Zohrabian, a deputy chairman of the presidential party, called them inappropriate.
Tsarukian’s spokesman, Khachik Galstian, scoffed at the HHK criticism, saying that he will not even bother to brief the BHK leader on them. Those attacking Tsarukian are not “weighty and authoriative” enough, he said.
Tsarukian, whose party holds four ministerial portfolios and boasts the second largest parliament faction, clearly sought to lower the temperature in the row. “I simply wanted to once again point out that attempts to link the Prosperous Armenia Party with other forces and individuals are a meaningless exercise,” he told Kentron. “The BHK is an independent political force with clear-cut programs and aims.”
The damage control effort will hardly prevent more speculation about mounting tensions between Armenia’s two main governing parties. They both have expressed their intention to win parliamentary elections due in May 2012. Also, the BHK has so far declined to pledge support for Sarkisian’s widely anticipated reelection bid in a presidential ballot to be held in 2013.
Tsarukian is believed to maintain close ties with Kocharian. The latter has kept a low profile since handing over power to Sarkisian in April 2008. In a rare public statement in April 2009, Kocharian said he has not yet decided to return to active politics.