Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) has moved closer to publicly demanding regime change in the country during its ongoing nationwide rallies staged jointly with two established opposition parties.
The BHK, the Armenian National Congress (HAK) and the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party took their anti-government campaign to Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province at the weekend, holding two rallies in the towns of Sisian and Kapan.
“You may be wondering what prompted the trio to unite, launch a process and hold rallies in the regions and in Yerevan soon now that no [regular] elections are coming up. True, no elections are coming up, but it’s possible to force [snap] elections,” Vartan Oskanian, a senior BHK figure, told hundreds of demonstrators in Kapan.
Oskanian, who served as foreign minister from 1998-2008, declined to elaborate on this statement when asked for comment on Monday.
Another senior BHK member, Stepan Markarian, said that the BHK and its allies “at this point have no plan to force elections.” “It’s an idea, expressed in a speech, which cannot be ruled out in theory,” Markarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). He said the opposition trio is focusing for now on 12 other demands issued to the government as well as President Serzh Sarkisian’s plans for constitutional reform rejected by them.
Markarian said at the same time that fresh national elections are becoming necessary. “Hardly anyone believes that the current parliament reflects the views or configuration of various segments of the society,” he said. “So there is always need for elections.”
HAK and Zharangutyun leaders have publicly stated that their joint actions with the BHK are aimed at forcing President Serzh Sarkisian to step down. Oskanian and other BHK figures have been more cautious in their speeches at the ongoing rallies. The BHK has the second largest faction in Armenia’s parliament, and its participation is essential for the success of the opposition campaign.
“It is obvious to everyone that the gap between the public and the authorities is deepening,” said Markarian. I don’t know what solutions there will be. The issue of radical and very solutions is becoming pressing.”