Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian insisted through a spokesman on Friday that he did not warn the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) of businessman Gagik Tsarukian against challenging Armenia’s current political leadership.
Sarkisian told journalists earlier this week that political forces failing to “cooperate” with the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) led by President Serzh Sarkisian will “end up empty-handed.”
Although the prime minister did not name anyone, the remarks were interpreted by many local commentators as a warning addressed to the BHK, a junior partner in the ruling coalition.
Aram Ananian, a spokesman for the prime minister, strongly denied that. “Many are trying to distort the prime minister’s statements and address them to our coalition partners despite the fact that he spoke about consolidation around the president of the republic and referred to all those political forces that … are waging meaningless struggles,” he told the official Armenpress news agency.
“The BHK is our coalition partner and there is no need to circulate fabrications over something which is not only ludicrous but simply a lie,” said Ananian.
The official refused to comment further when contacted by RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“I think this sets the record straight,” Naira Zohrabian, a senior BHK parliamentarian, told journalists, reacting to on Ananian’s statement.
The BHK, which is represented in the government by four ministers, has still not officially and explicitly confirmed or denied reports that it has come under strong pressure from the presidential administration to reaffirm support for Serzh Sarkisian’s reelection in 2013. Tsarukian pointedly declined to do that in an interview earlier this month, prompting renewed speculation that he might back former President Robert Kocharian instead.
It emerged on Friday that President Serzh Sarkisian met on Wednesday with Tsarukian, parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian and leaders of the Orinats Yerkir Party, the other coalition partner.
Galust Sahakian, the HHK’s parliamentary leader, claimed that the meeting “wasn’t political” and that they only discussed legislative affairs. “Meetings always take place within the coalition framework and those meetings are obligatory,” Sahakian told a news conference.
Zohrabian likewise said that the meeting focused on amendments to tax legislation proposed by the government. “Only issues related to the budget were discussed,” she said.