Prosperous Armenia Party leader (BHK) Gagik Tsarukian has begun a series of consultatons with the country’s main established opposition groups that could lead them to take more forceful joint actions against President Serzh Sarkisian.
Tsarukian met with three leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Friday and will hold similar talks with top representatives of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) on Tuesday. It is not yet clear whether he also plans a separate meeting with the leadership of Zharangutyun (Heritage), the third opposition party represented in Armenia’s parliament.
The talks began three weeks after Tsarukian toughened his criticism of government policies in a speech at a BHK conference in Yerevan. He urged Armenia’s leading political forces to develop a “joint political, social and economic agenda” and agree on a “roadmap” to implement it. The tycoon stopped short of explicitly calling for Sarkisian’s resignation, though, underlining his party’s ambiguous status.
HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian spoke of a “roadmap to regime change” as he rallied thousands of supporters in Yerevan two weeks later. He said “first steps in that direction seem to be already taken” by the HAK, the BHK, Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun.
Levon Zurabian, the HAK’s deputy chairman, made on clear on Monday Ter-Petrosian’s party is only interested in joint actions aimed at changing the government. “The HAK does not imagine any other [opposition] program,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Asked whether he believes Tsarukian’s party wants regime change, Zurabian said, “If others embark on cooperation with us it means they know where we would be heading for together.”
He also said that Ter-Petrosian will not take part in Tuesday’s meeting with Tsarukian and will send his top aides instead. The HAK delegation will be led by Zurabian.
Few details of Tsarukian’s meeting with the Dashnaktsutyun leaders were made public. A TV channel controlled by Tsarukian aired short footage that showed the two sides expressing concern at the state of affairs in Armenia and calling for joint action.
“We discussed the situation in the country, possible solutions and the bounds of our cooperation. We will continue to cooperate,” one of the participants, Dashnaktsutyun’s Aghvan Vartanian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Asked whether that means the two parties will work together in trying to unseat President Sarkisian, Vartanian said, “The situation in the country is such that it requires a solution. We can’t carry on like this. We are trying to find solutions, together think about necessary steps, discuss those steps and, in case of an agreement, take actions.”