A senior member of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), a junior partner in the ruling coalition, on Wednesday reacted ambiguously to reports that it has come under renewed pressure to endorse President Serzh Sarkisian’s reelection plans.
In a joint declaration signed with Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) last February, the BHK committed itself to supporting the incumbent president in the next election due in early 2013.
However, BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian called that commitment into question earlier this month when he commented evasively on his party’s election-related plans. Tsarukian did so shortly after former President Robert Kocharian, with whom he has long had a warm rapport, gave more indications of his desire to return to active politics.
Some Yerevan newspapers claimed last week that Sarkisian has responded by issuing a fresh ultimatum to the BHK. They said Tsarukian was given until the end of this week to explicitly back Sarkisian’s presidential candidacy or face expulsion from the coalition government.
“I know nothing about that,” Vartan Bostanjian, a BHK deputy told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Neither does any other member of Prosperous Armenia. Even the deputies from the Republican Party know nothing about that.”
But when asked whether he might simply be unaware of demands presented to the BHK leadership, Bostanjian said, “Yes, maybe.”
Significantly, Bostanjian defended Tsarukian’s reluctance to pledge support for Sarkisian’s reelection, citing the possibility of a “sudden change of the political situation” before the 2013 ballot. “A political force does not look serious when it comments on something which is still a long way off,” he said, raising more questions about the validity of the February declaration.
The lawmaker also echoed Tsarukian’s remark that Kocharian has “the moral and political right” to make a political comeback. “Every citizen, including a person who has already been our country’s president, has the right to stand in a presidential election,” he said.
In a late September interview with the Mediamax news agency, Kocharian said he could return to the political arena if that is desired by “various strata of the society” and if there is no “tangible and steady improvement of the economic situation in the country.” This was construed by some analysts as another indication of the ex-president’s dissatisfaction with the current Armenian leadership.