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Armenian Tycoon Open To New Governing Coalition


Armenia - Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian campaigns in Hrazdan, 11Apr2012.

Armenia - Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian campaigns in Hrazdan, 11Apr2012.

Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian on Wednesday expressed his readiness to join a new governing coalition that could be formed after next month’s
Armenian parliamentary elections.

Tsarukian did not rule out the possibility of cutting power-sharing deals with other political forces, presumably including President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK), as he continued his election campaign in the country’s central Kotayk province.

“Nothing can be ruled out,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) after a rally held in the industrial town of Charentsavan. “The main thing is not to look for enemies among ourselves. We must close the ranks. Everyone must think about the country’s power, economic development and the people’s welfare. If everyone supports that, then they should unite.”

The BHK’s relations with the HHK appear to have deteriorated in recent months because of Tsarukian’s apparent reluctance to pledge support for Sarkisian’s candidacy in next year’s presidential election. The BHK, which is represented in the government by four ministers, makes no secret of its desire to increase its representation in the National Assembly.

Tsarukian, who is one of Armenia’s richest businessmen, declined to comment on his party’s electoral chances. Asked whether he thinks the BHK can win the May 6 elections, he said, “I don’t know that, you should ask the people.”

The tycoon also renewed his criticism of the government’s economic policies, saying that they have not been favorable for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. “During this financial-economic crisis what we need to do first is not to raise taxes but lower them,” he said. “But not only have they raised taxes but also demanded that [small business owners] pay for three months [of operations in advance.] How can an ordinary person running a café, a hairdresser’s salon or kiosk can’t pay for three months?”

“All over the world small and medium-sized businesses generate 70-80 percent of state budgets,” argued the BHK leader. “We need to create conditions for them to operate and create things. We need to understand the situation they are in.”
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