The main political parties critical of Armenia’s government are increasingly cooperating with each other and could soon join forces to try to oust President Serzh Sarkisian, the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) claimed on Monday.
HAK spokesman Arman Musinian pointed to their ongoing joint efforts to thwart a controversial reform of the national pension system initiated by the government. “The pension reform is not the only problem,” he said. “There are many problems. The HAK believes all these problems are a consequence of one fundamental disease: Armenia is ruled by an illegitimate, unelected regime. Only through its ouster would it be possible to alleviate or neutralize the problems which we are now experiencing.”
“It is difficult to say at this point to what extent the consolidation of political forces will deepen,” Musinian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But the ongoing trend gives us grounds for a lot of optimism. I think that we will see further progress in this regard soon.”
Musinian referred to the HAK, which is led by former President Levon Ter-Perosian, the opposition Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun parties as well as Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), which is highly critical of government policies despite not being officially in opposition to the Sarkisian administration. Tsarukian highlighted the BHK’s ambiguous status last month when he publicly raised a toast to the Armenian president at an event organized by him.
Naira Zohrabian, a top Tsarukian aide and a senior BHK lawmaker, made clear on Monday that regime change is currently not on the party’s agenda. “Prosperous Armenia has not discussed such an issue,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “Artificially pushing events forward and speaking of steps that have not yet been discussed is not the BHK style,” she said.
The BHK controls 36 seats in Armenia’s 131-member parliament. By comparison, the HAK, Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun hold only 17 seats between them. The three opposition parties have had an uneasy and at times tense relations until now.
“There are differences and they are inevitable,” said Musinian. “But they cannot prevent opposition consolidation for the simple reason that at the heart of that consolidation are issues on which political forces have essentially identical positions.”