Businessman Gagik Tsarukian and his Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) will support President Serzh Sarkisian in next year’s presidential election, a senior BHK lawmaker predicted on Wednesday, denying any “distrust” between the two coalition partners.
“We simply have no reason not to support [Sarkisian,]” Vartan Bostanjian told a news conference. “Of course, as you may have noticed, I always avoid talking on behalf of my leader. But in any case, we always honor documents signed by us.”
Bostanjian referred to a joint statement that was publicly signed in February 2011 by Sarkisian, Tsarukian and Artur Baghdasarian of Orinats Yerkir, the third party represented in Armenia’s government. The statement said the three coalition parties will campaign for the incumbent president’s reelection in 2013 and will not seek to undermine each other in the May 2012 parliamentary elections.
Tsarukian, whose party boasts the second largest faction in the current Armenian parliament, raised questions about that commitment in September when he declined to reaffirm support for Sarkisian’s reelection plans. He spoke about the 2013 presidential ballot evasively just days after former President Robert Kocharian signaled his desire to return to active politics. The BHK reportedly came under strong pressure from the presidential administration in the following weeks.
Sarkisian, Tsarukian and Baghdasarian met on Monday to discuss the upcoming elections and the overall political situation in the country. Few details of that meeting were made public.
Bostanjian said the three men discussed ways of easing tensions within the ruling coalition. But he insisted at the same time that there is no “distrust” between the BHK and Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). “Tension and a deficit of trust are totally different categories,” he said.
Bostanjian also announced that the two parties have agreed to nominate their parliamentary election candidates in single-mandate constituencies “in a coordinated fashion.”
Armenian law reserves 41 of the 131 seats in the National Assembly for such constituencies. The remaining seats are to be contested under the system of proportional representation.