Opposition presidential candidate Raffi Hovannisian met with Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian at the weekend to discuss the post-election situation in the country and the possibility of cooperation between the two political heavyweights.
Few details of the meeting were made public, with a BHK statement saying only that it was requested by Hovannisian and lasted for about three hours. It said the two men spoke tête-à-tête on Saturday before being joined by their close associates, including Vartan Oskanian, a former foreign minister affiliated with Tsarukian’s party.
“Gagik Tsarukian stressed that there are no enemy parties and that he is ready to meet [other party leaders] and discuss those issues that could benefit the people,” Ivetta Tonoyan, a spokeswoman for the BHK leader, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) separately. In her words, Hovannisian said that the Armenian opposition and even some elements of the ruling Republican Party should work together to “return power to the people.”
A statement by Hovannisian’s election campaign headquarters said they agreed to “cooperate towards overcoming the existing political crisis, including putting forward pre-term solutions.” It did not specify if snap presidential or parliamentary elections sought by Hovannisian are one such solution.
“Gagik Tsarukian reaffirmed his position that the BHK has always been and will remain by the people’s side,” added the statement.
In a statement issued last week, the BHK, which did not field or endorse any presidential candidates, reacted ambiguously to the Armenian authorities’ handling of the February 18 election. While seemingly justifying post-election street protests staged by Hovannisian, Armenia’s second most important parliamentary party did not say whether it accepts official vote results that gave victory to President Serzh Sarkisian.
The BHK’s relationship with Hovannisian and his Zharangutyun (Heritage) party has been strained until now. Unlike two other major opposition groups, Zharangutyun refused to join forces with the BHK to monitor the conduct of the May 2012 parliamentary elections.
Zharangutyun leaders accused Tsarukian’s party of buying votes and using administrative resources ahead of those polls. BHK representatives angrily denied those accusations.