Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) on Monday responded positively to opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian’s latest anti-government rally in Yerevan, signaling its readiness for closer cooperation with his opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK).
Naira Zohrabian, the BHK’s de facto parliamentary leader, said Ter-Petrosian’s “composed and prudent” statements made at the rally reflected her party’s official position. In remarks to Zham.am, Zohrabian also praised thousands of people who attended the protest staged on the sixth anniversary of the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan.
Another senior BHK figure, former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, went further, effectively echoing Ter-Petrosian’s calls for regime change in Armenia. “Armenia’s next national elections are due in 2017 and 2018,” Oskanian wrote on Facebook. “Armenia does not have … the political, economic and demographic resources to wait for those elections, especially given the experience of the last elections.”
“Therefore, the government’s resignation is the logical step which our public can now demand from the authorities,” added Oskanian.
Zohrabian, whose statements usually reflect the official party line, sounded more cautious in that regard. She singled out Ter-Petrosian’s remark that he and the HAK will never take the kind of revolutionary actions that recently toppled the government in Ukraine.
Zohrabian said that political groups challenging Armenia’s current leadership must not be “guided only by calls for rejecting and ousting” it. “In addition to that, you should come up with a joint program and agenda and, most importantly, seek a broad-based social-political consolidation,” she said.
Speaking at rally on Saturday, Ter-Petrosian said that the BHK, the HAK and two other opposition parties should draw up a joint “roadmap” to regime change. He seemed to attach particular importance to the BHK’s role, comparing Tsarukian to Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili who set up an opposition alliance that won Georgia’s last parliamentary and presidential elections.
The pursuit of close cooperation with the BHK, which was part of Armenia’s governing coalition until June 2012, has been a key element of Ter-Petrosian’s political strategy in the past few years. Some opposition groups and leaders have disagreed with this line, pointing to the BHK’s ambiguous status and Tsarukian’s reputedly close ties to former President Robert Kocharian, the man who ordered a deadly crackdown on Ter-Petrosian’s opposition movement in 2008.