By Hrach Melkumian
Leaders of Armenia’s three governing parties, including Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, were meeting late Tuesday to try to divide more senior government posts that were not covered by their power-sharing deal until now.
The talks followed claims to greater representation in the executive staked by the two junior coalition partners, the Orinats Yerkir and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) parties. Each of them has three ministers in the cabinet and wants to get vice-ministerial posts in several other government agencies.
Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK), which effectively controls most of those positions, initially resisted those demands, but backed down late last month apparently under pressure from President Robert Kocharian. Republican leaders now say that they are ready to share some of the so-called “discretionary posts” with heir coalition partners.
A Dashnaktsutyun leader, Armen Rustamian, complained that his party currently does not have sufficient leverage in the government to become its “full-fledged member” and bear “collective responsibility” for its policies. “The coalition partners must participate in the country’s governance in accordance with responsibility shouldered by them,” he told RFE/RL before the meeting.
Rustamian would not be drawn on how many posts of deputy minister his partly would like to obtain. Orinats Yerkir leaders are also reticent on the issue.
Sources said that the inter-party talks revolve around the 12 ministries that were distributed on a coalition basis following the May parliamentary elections. The ministries of justice, defense and foreign affairs are directly controlled by Kocharian and are not a subject of the bargaining.
Agreement on the vice-ministerial posts could ease growing tensions inside the coalition which came to light in recent weeks.