The second most important political party in Armenia’s three-member governing coalition has not yet reacted to the offer of cooperation effectively made by ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian at the latest rally of his main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) on Friday.
In an extraordinary about-face, Ter-Petrosian expressed his readiness to cooperate with pro-government tycoon Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) if it leaves the ruling coalition and openly challenges current President Serzh Sarkisian, the leader of the main ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
“I am convinced that cooperation between the HAK and the BHK could radically change the configuration of political forces and become a serious guarantee for the restoration of constitutional order and the implementation of necessary reforms stemming from the people’s interests. It could at the same time serve as a basis for the formation of a broader coalition of opposition forces,” said Ter-Petrosian.
Contacted by RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Monday, BHK leader Tsarukian's spokesman Khachik Galstian said that the party’s leader was still outside Armenia and that the BHK could not officially reply to the HAK leader’s statement in his absence.
Tsarukian left for vacation in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates at the end of last week. His spokesman did not say when exactly he was due to return to Armenia.
Despite the absence of a formal response, some BHK members have already challenged the feasibility of cooperating with Ter-Petrosian’s opposition bloc.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am), senior BHK lawmaker Vartan Bostanjian said such cooperation was difficult to imagine.
“We now have commitments to cooperate as a coalition partner, and I think we have no problems in connection with the upcoming elections or objectives in general,” he said.
Armenian media, meanwhile, have been speculating about growing differences between the BHK and its senior coalition partner, HHK. The recent victory of a BHK-backed candidate in a mayoral election in the small provincial town of Ijevan in northern Armenia against the incumbent who enjoyed the backing of the HHK only fueled more talk about possible rifts between the two allies in the run-up to next year’s parliamentary elections.
Meanwhile, HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov described Ter-Petrosian’s overtures to the BHK as a ‘political farce’, but abstained from further comments. He only told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) that the HHK does not interfere with the affairs of the BHK and the HAK.