Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) Gagik Tsarukian discussed the upcoming Armenian presidential election with the European Union’s Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fuele at the end of a three-day visit to Brussels late on Thursday.
“Reforms related to the European agenda and the implementation of OSCE/ODIHR recommendations in the context of the forthcoming presidential elections were discussed at the meeting,” Fuele’s office said in a statement that referred to the BHK as “the biggest opposition party” in the Armenian parliament.
“The Commissioner appealed for a critical, but constructive engagement of the opposition with the authorities in the process,” said the statement.
It added that Fuele also called on Tsarukian and senior BHK members accompanying him to “build multi-partisan consensus around reforms which are needed for effective future implementation” of an Association Agreement currently negotiated by the EU and Armenia.
The statement did not say if they discussed Tsarukian’s participation in the ballot slated for February. The BHK leader is expected to announce next week whether he will stand as a candidate.
Naira Zohrabian, a senior BHK lawmaker who also travelled to Brussels, said on Friday that Tsarukian’s visit was “highly successful” and left EU officials left with “absolutely positive impressions” about the BHK and its leader. Tsarukian’s presidential candidacy is now “definitely comprehensible” to the EU, she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Tsarukian caused a stir in Yerevan when he told a deputy speaker of the European Parliament on Wednesday that Armenia is run by corrupt individuals. President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) swiftly rejected that allegation as “shameful.” An HHK spokesman also charged on Thursday that the BHK is regarded as an “artificial force” in Europe.
Zohrabian hit back at the HHK criticism, saying that the ruling party is now “in panic.” She insisted that Tsarukian referred to a corrupt government “system” rather than concrete individuals.
“What he meant is that corruption is an extremely serious systemic disaster in Armenia and that individuals whose work is not producing results have no right to engage in anti-corruption struggles,” said Zohrabian.