Gagik Tsarukian, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader, was conspicuously absent from the opening session of the new parliament on Thursday, a move that will fuel more talk of his discord with the country’s political leadership.
Members of the BHK’s parliamentary faction, the second largest in the National Assembly, clearly waited for Tsarukian before making their way into the main parliament auditorium and joining their colleagues from other parties. President Serzh Sarkisian opened the parliament session with a speech.
Senior BHK lawmakers denied any political motives behind the no-show, saying that the tycoon is imply busy with other engagements. “Because of being busy with some work Gagik Tsarukian did not take part in today’s session,” one of them, Naira Zohrabian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But rest assured that Gagik Tsarukian will definitely take part in further sessions.”
Zohrabian said Tsarukian on Wednesday met with the 38 other BHK deputies and urged them to be “very active” on the parliament floor. The BHK leader was “in high mood” at the meeting, she said.
“He didn’t find it convenient to show up today,” said Vartan Oskanian, who was second on the BHK’s list of election candidate. “If there was a boycott decision, all of us would not have come here today. We did not need to do that.”
After nearly weeks of behind-the-scenes discussions with Sarkisian, Tsarukian announced last week that his party will enter into a new power-sharing agreement with the president and the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
“Both during the election campaign and today, Prosperous Armenia considers itself an alternative to the current authorities and the political majority in the parliament,” Oskanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “So we will stick to that line.”
Asked whether this means the party is now officially in opposition to the Sarkisian government, the former foreign minister said, “Call it whatever you want. This is how we define our stance.”
Oskanian also reiterated that it is still “too early” to speculate whom the BHK will support in Armenia’s next presidential election due in February 2013. “We have not discussed that topic yet,” he said.