The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) said on Friday that it hopes to continue to cooperate with Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) despite his decision not to challenge President Serzh Sarkisian in the upcoming presidential election.
The opposition bloc led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian sought to put an optimistic spin on Tsarukian’s unexpected move which analysts believe boosted Sarkisian’s reelection chances.
The HAK’s governing Political Council met on Thursday to discuss the development. “We formulated a common stance and believe that what happened has one implication: the Prosperous Armenia Party has declared the [February 2011] memorandum signed with the HHK null and void, and thus a considerable segment of the ruling political system has broken away from the pyramid,” HAK spokesman Arman Musinian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The memorandum committed Tsarukian and his party to supporting Sarkisian’s reelection plans. The BHK leader effectively walked away from that deal later in 2011 and was widely expected to run for president until meeting with the incumbent president last Saturday.
Musinian declined to comment further, only expressing hope that the HAK’s cooperation with the BHK will continue in the months ahead.
According to Musinian, all but one participants of the HAK meeting agreed with the bloc’s reaction to Tsarukian’s withdrawal from the presidential race.
The dissenter, Sos Gimishian, blasted that reaction, saying that it amounts to “deceit.” “I believe that statement does not bring honor to the HAK and myself,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Gimishian, who leads one of the small opposition parties affiliated with Ter-Petrosian’s alliance, insisted that Tsarukian and his associates have retained close ties with the Armenian government even after leaving the ruling coalition in June. The HAK should therefore avoid any strategic cooperation with them, he said.
“What should we cooperate with the BHK on after that party declared that it will not support anyone in the presidential election?” added Gimishian.
Similar arguments have also been made in recent weeks by other prominent HAK members, notably Hrant Bagratian and Nikol Pashinian. They have publicly questioned Ter-Petrosian’ strategy of courting the BHK and trying to form a united front against President Sarkisian.
Gimishian said Bagratian, Pashinian and the leaders of two other parties aligned in the HAK did not take part in Thursday’s meeting of the bloc’s leadership.