President Serzh Sarkisian and Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian have met to discuss the possibility of cutting a new power-sharing deal as a result of this month’s parliamentary elections, it emerged on Thursday.
Galust Sahakian, a deputy chairman of Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the meeting, not publicized by the presidential press service, took place on Wednesday. He said he does not know if they reached any agreements on the BHK’s continued presence in Sarkisian’s government.
“I can’t tell that because I didn’t take part in the meeting,” Sahakian said. He added that the HHK’s governing Executive Body should clear up the situation at a meeting that was due to take place late on Thursday.
Sahakian also implied that the BHK will have to explicitly pledge support for Sarkisian’s candidacy in next year’s presidential election if it wants to retain ministerial portfolios and other government positions. “Naturally, if there is a coalition cooperation, that will be one of the top issues,” he said.
Tsarukian has for months been reluctant to endorse the incumbent president’s plans to win a second term in office amid media speculation that former President Robert Kocharian, widely regarded as a BHK backer, would like to return to active politics. Tsarukian and other BHK figures openly criticized government policies during the parliamentary election campaign.
The BHK raised last week more questions about its political future when former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, whose name was second on the party’s electoral slate, joined two leading opposition forces in questioning the legitimacy of the official vote results that gave a landslide victory to the HHK.
Oskanian reaffirmed his highly critical assessment of the election conduct on Wednesday at a meeting with Radmila Sekerinska, the head of an election observation deployed in Armenia by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “I said that the results of the May 6 elections do not reflect the people’s will and explained why,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
The BHK, which finished second in the polls, declined to clarify on Thursday whether Oskanian expressed the party’s official position. Tsarukian has still not personally commented on the Armenian authorities’ handling of the vote and his political plans.
The HHK’s Sahakian, meanwhile, dismissed opposition allegations of electoral fraud backed by Oskanian. “We treat such realities with a bit of irony because in our political field losers take [their defeats] very painfully,” he said. “We put up with even slander against us in the entire election period and we will put up with that in the post-election period as well.”