By Karine Kalantarian
The Republican Party (HHK) rebuked on Friday the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) for distancing itself from Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s cabinet, in the latest sign of mounting friction inside Armenia’s ruling coalition.
HHK leaders took issue with Dashnaktsutyun’s decision to publicize a separate report on its 100-day record in government that questioned Markarian’s commitment to tackling corruption and his staffing policy. They said the way the Dashnaks presented their accomplishments ran counter to the coalition spirit.
“The coalition parties are not opposition forces to speak separately about their approaches and conducted work,” parliament vice-speaker Tigran Torosian told RFE/RL. He said Markarian and other Republican members of the government will, by contrast, continue to present their track record only within the framework of the government’s annual performance reports.
For his part, the leader of the HHK faction in parliament, Galust Sahakian, claimed in a newspaper interview that Dashnaktsutyun places its partisan interests above those of the state.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, the Dashnaktsutyun leaders rejected an anti-corruption strategy prepared by a team of government experts for the past two years. One of them, Armen Rustamian, acknowledged that there are “elements of arrogance and mistrust” inside the coalition and stressed that his party is ready to cooperate with the opposition.
However, the extent of the disagreements was played down by Education Minister Sergo Yeritsian, a leading member of the Orinats Yerkir Party, the third coalition partner. Yeritsian said that while the three parties have “differing approaches” on a number of issues, they are working together to reach compromise solutions.
“The coalition was formed only recently and there are still many issues that need to be clarified,” he told reporters.
One of the bones of contention is a Dashnaktsutyun demand to divide all positions of deputy minister among the three parties. The Republicans, who control most of those jobs, are strongly opposed to the idea. Yeritsian also objected to it, saying that a governing party should not be allowed to “impose” its nominees on ministries controlled by its partners.