Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian has pointedly declined to dismiss speculation that the unfolding dialogue between Armenia’s government and leading opposition force could put his continued tenure at risk.
In a weekend interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Sarkisian also admitted facing “competition” from other influential members of the country’s political leadership.
Sarkisian was the main target of verbal attacks from representatives of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) during the last rally held by the opposition alliance on June 30. This fact prompted suggestions that the HAK might ease pressure on President Serzh Sarkisian (no relation) if the latter sacks his reformist prime minister.
Asked whether he thinks his job may indeed be on the line now, Tigran Sarkisian said, “God knows.” He would not comment further.
The former longtime governor of Armenia’s Central Bank was also reserved about chances for the success of the unprecedented dialogue. “Let’s wait and see,” he said.
Sarkisian has been dogged by rumors about his impending sacking throughout his three-year tenure. Parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian, widely regarded as the 51-year-old premier’s main government rival, fanned those rumors when he questioned the Armenian government’s socioeconomic record in April. Sarkisian laughed off the resignation talk at the time.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Sarkisian acknowledged that he is challenged not only by opposition leaders but also some government figures and factions. But he insisted that this is a “normal” phenomenon characteristic of democratic countries.
“Any political force must draw up its programs, promote its leaders through an honest and fair competition,” he said. “Such a competition is normal and I have no problem with that.”
“Our analysts, our political elite, our political parties must slowly introduce those democratic traditions into the Republic of Armenia. There must be competition not only among parties but also within them.”
Both Tigran Sarkisian and Abrahamian are senior members of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
Abrahamian claimed last week that despite a widely held belief, the prime minister will not top the list of HHK candidates in next year’s parliamentary elections.
Sarkisian did not deny or confirm this. “That issue has not yet been discussed in the [HHK’s] Executive Body,” he said.