Former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has been formally admitted to the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and could be among its top candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections, a senior BHK representative said on Thursday.
Oskanian announced on Monday that he has finally decided to return to active politics and applied for membership in Armenia’s second most important governing party for that purpose. The move added to lingering media speculation about former President Robert Kocharian’s desire to return to power.
Naira Zohrabian, a top aide to BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the party’s governing body has accepted Oskanian’s membership application. “Naturally, Gagik Tsarukian’s position was also positive and from now on Vartan Oskanian is a member of the Prosperous Armenia Party,” she said.
Zohrabian did not rule out the possibility of Oskanian’s name being high on the BHK’s electoral slate. She said the list will be unveiled at a party congress scheduled for March 17.
Zohrabian added that it will also comprise “experienced figures known to the public” but declined to give any names. She insisted that Kocharian will not be among the BHK’s election candidates. Asked whether members of Kocharian’s entourage will be included on the candidate list, she replied, “I have no such information.”
Oskanian served as foreign minister while Tsarukian became one of Armenia’s wealthiest entrepreneurs during Kocharian’s 1998-2008 rule. The ex-president signaled last year his desire to come out of political retirement. Analysts believe he could rely on the BHK in case of making a comeback and challenging his successor, President Serzh Sarkisian.
Zohrabian refused to speculate on whether Oskanian’s membership in the BHK increased the likelihood of Tsarukian’s party not supporting Sarkisian in the 2013 presidential election and fielding its own candidate instead. She said she has nothing to add to statements on the issue made by Tsarukian.
The tycoon pointedly declined to reaffirm support for Sarkisian’s reelection in September. His relationship with the president reportedly deteriorated after that.