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Armenian PM Expects ‘Cooperation’ With Departing Coalition Partner


Armenia - Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian (C) inspects apartment blocks constructed in Gyumri, 26May2012.

Armenia - Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian (C) inspects apartment blocks constructed in Gyumri, 26May2012.

The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) will not necessarily join the opposition despite its decision pull out of the country’s governing coalition, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said over the weekend.

“We respect the decision of partners, and I am convinced that our cooperation will continue,” Sarkisian told reporters during a visit to Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri.

“Who said that the BHK will be in opposition?” he said when asked about the party’s new political status after the May 6 parliamentary elections controversially won by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).

Hovik Abrahamian, the HHK’s election campaign manager, similarly suggested last week that the BHK, the official election runner-up, will not become an opposition force.

BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian and his senior aides have sounded vague on that score so far. “Time will tell,” Vartan Vartanian, the BHK-affiliated minister for urban development who accompanied Sarkisian on the Gyumri trip, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

In accordance with the Armenian constitution, Sarkisian and all members of his cabinet, four of them BHK members, will tender their resignations at the opening session of the newly elected National Assembly scheduled for Thursday. Sarkisian is widely expected to be reappointed as prime minister by President Serzh Sarkisian. The premier refused to comment on the issue.

With the HHK having won 69 of the 131 parliament seats, the new government should be able to push through bills without the BHK’s backing. It can also count on the backing of six other deputies representing Orinats Yerkir, the third partner in the outgoing coalition.

The BHK’s impending pullout from the coalition has been welcomed as a significant political development by the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK). Levon Zurbaian, an HAK leader, claimed last week that Sarkisian’s government is now “falling apart.”

“This is a great achievement that will produce a very positive result over time if the BHK sticks to this line,” Lyudmila Sargsian, another senior member of the HAK, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Monday.

“If our initiatives aimed at reform get support from the BHK, we will be ready for cooperation,” Sargsian said. She admitted, though, that time is needed for ascertaining just how the party led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian will position itself in the new parliament.

Khachatur Kokobelian, the leader of another opposition party, the Free Democrats, was more skeptical about the BHK’s opposition credentials. “On strategic issues related to Armenia’s future, those people should clarify what kind of Armenia they want to see, what kind of a judicial system and legislative framework they envisage,” he said. “Until that clarification takes place we will not know who we are dealing with.”

“Frankly, I can’t imagine BHK deputies working in an opposition regime,” added Kokobelian.
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