The Orinats Yerkir party of Artur Baghdasarian will hold a rally in Yerevan next week three months after pulling out of President Serzh Sarkisian’s government.
Baghdasarian made clear on Wednesday that the party, which holds 5 seats in Armenia’s 131-member parliament, will not demand Sarkisian’s or the recently reshuffled government’s resignation when it rallies supporters on July 18. He said Orinats Yerkir leaders will only present what they believe are viable alternatives to the Armenian authorities’ socioeconomic policies.
“Serzh Sarkisian himself has announced his departure from active politics [in 2018,]” Baghdasarian told reporters when asked about his unwillingness to call for regime change in the country. “First of all, under the constitution he cannot run for president anymore,” he told a news conference. “He has also stated that he does not aspire to being Armenia’s prime minister.”
Baghdasarian became a staunch presidential ally after finishing third in a 2008 presidential election that formalized the handover of power from President Robert Kocharian to Sarkisian. Orinats Yerkir as well as two other parties, Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Dashnaktsutyun, joined a coalition government formed by Sarkisian after the disputed ballot.
Dashnaktsutyun and the BHK pulled out of the coalition for different reasons in 2009 and 2012 respectively. Orinats Yerkir announced its decision to follow suit on April 16, two weeks after the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian. Its leaders complained afterwards that the party never had a real influence on key government decisions.
Baghdasarian on Wednesday accused Sarkisian and the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) of monopolizing power. “The absence of real coalitions precludes a broad-based public consolidation around the government, which runs counter to the principles of governance adopted in democratic countries, increases corruption, irresponsibility and impunity,” he said.
The Orinats Yerkir leader, who resigned as secretary of Sarkisian’s National Security Council later in April, went on to apologize to Armenians for his “mistakes and shortcomings.” He did not specify them, however.
The apology is unlikely to stop some observers and established opposition figures from questioning Baghdasarian’s opposition credentials. They claim that Baghdasarian continues to secretly collaborate with Sarkisian. The fact that Baghdasarian will run a special academy that will be set up in Yerevan this September by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization has only added to this speculation.
Baghdasarian also remains a member of the National Security Council. He attributed this fact to his “great experience and connections” developed over the past decade.