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Opposition Bloc Admits Differences Over Coalition Partner


Armenia - Davit Shahnazarian, a senior member of the opposition Armenian National Congress.

Armenia - Davit Shahnazarian, a senior member of the opposition Armenian National Congress.

A close associate of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian acknowledged and downplayed on Thursday differences within his Armenian National Congress (HAK) over possible cooperation with a junior partner in the country’s governing coalition.

Speaking at a rally late last month, Ter-Petrosian expressed his readiness to join forces with Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) if it leaves the government and openly challenges President Serzh Sarkisian. He admitted that there is no “consensus” on the issue among about two dozen opposition groups making up his alliance.

Some leaders of those groups have openly come out against the idea of cooperation with Tsarukian. They say the HAK will only lose popular support if it woos the BHK.

Davit Shahnazarian, a prominent HAK figure close to Ter-Petrosian, described these differences as “more than positive and natural.” “That has not only demonstrated that there is an internal democracy and a democratic mechanism for decision-making within the Congress but has made the Congress even stronger,” he told journalists.

Shahnazarian insisted that Ter-Petrosian’s overtures to the BHK will not cause a rift within the bloc. “You should have no doubts that not only is the Congress as united as never before but that its membership keeps growing,” he said.

The BHK, which has had a tenuous rapport with Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in recent months, has still not commented on Ter-Petrosian’s statement. BHK representatives argue that they have received no formal cooperation offers from the HAK.

Tsarukian is believed to have close ties with Robert Kocharian, the former president and the HAK’s arch-foe. The tycoon said in October that Kocharian has “every moral and political right” to return to the political arena.

Shahnazarian sounded skeptical about chances of Tsarukian “getting rid of Robert Kocharian’s influence” and challenging the existing “criminal-oligarchic system.”
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