Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian on Thursday appeared to urge Armenians to vote for President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party, rather than its coalition partner Orinats Yerkir, of which he is a senior member and candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Karapetian, whose name is fourth on the list of Orinats Yerkir candidates, discussed the May 6 elections at a meeting with students and professors at the State Agrarian University of Armenia.
“In order for us to be able to ensure the continuity of these agricultural programs [implemented by the government] we need to ensure political stability in our country … We must all rally around the president of our country who has embarked on those reforms [in the agricultural sector] so that we can move forward together,” he said.
“That is why I urge you to participate in the elections and vote for our ruling party, for our president because there will be presidential elections next year. We must use the forthcoming National Assembly elections as a launch pad for electing our president in next year’s presidential elections,” added Karapetian.
The minister refused to specify whether he appealed for support for the HHK or for Orinats Yerkir when he was approached by an RFE/RL correspondent after the meeting.
Orinats Yerkir spokesman Harutiun Amirian insisted afterwards that by “ruling party” Karapetian meant Orinats Yerkir. “What he meant was vote for Orinats Yerkir in the parliamentary elections and for Serzh Sarkisian in the presidential elections,” Amirian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Karapetian, who previously managed one of the country’s largest food-processing firms, had no known links with Orinats Yerkir before being appointed as agriculture minister in December 2010. He became minister and joined the party led by Artur Baghdasarian on the same day.
Baghdasarian, who is also the secretary of President Sarkisian’s National Security Council, said earlier this year that his party expects to have a “weighty presence” in the next National Assembly. He dismissed widespread speculation that it will struggle to win at least 5 percent of the vote needed for entering the legislature.