Close associates of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian held what they called a “productive” meeting with Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian on Tuesday, saying that it will lead to closer cooperation between their parties.
Tsarukian gave a far more cautious assessment of the meeting, however. He said through a spokeswoman that there are still “visible differences” between the BHK and Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK).
“We consider the meeting very productive because we reached agreement on very important issues,” the HAK’s parliamentary leader, Levon Zurabian, told reporters after the meeting held at the BHK headquarters.
“It is evident to both of us that this meeting laid the groundwork for deepening our cooperation. I don’t exclude that there will be much more meetings in the future,” said Zurabian. He did not rule out the possibility of Ter-Petrosian meeting with Tsarukian soon.
“This meeting was successful, promising and businesslike,” said Aram Manukian, another senior HAK figure. “It could soon have a serious impact on the political environment in Armenia.”
The meeting was the latest in a series of consultations held by Tsarukian and his top aides, including former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, with leaders of Armenia’s established opposition parties. Tsarukian has called for their “consolidation” but been vague so far about his political objectives.
It is still not clear whether the tycoon, who controls the second largest faction in Armenia’s parliament, agrees with opposition calls for President Serzh Sarkisian’s ouster. The BHK has only demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian and his cabinet.
In a written statement, Tsarukian’s press secretary Iveta Tonoyan cited “visible differences” between the HAK and the BHK. She did not elaborate, saying only that the BHK is primarily dissatisfied with the government’s economic policies.
By contrast, the HAK representatives stood by their party’s view that President Sarkisian must step down and pave the way for snap presidential and parliamentary elections. “We see no other solutions to the problems facing the country,” said Zurabian.
Asked whether Tsarukian backed this stance, Zurabian replied that the BHK, the HAK as well as the opposition Dashnaktsutyun and Zharangutyun parties currently agree on the need to seek a parliamentary vote of no confidence in the government. Ter-Petrosian’s party believes such a move should mark the first stage of their joint push for “full regime change,” he said.
“I’m not pessimistic,” added Zurabian. “I think the situation in the country is such that all political forces are looking for answers to pressing questions. Those answers cannot come only with the government’s resignation.”