By Karine Kalantarian
Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian on Tuesday again refused to name the political party with which he will team up to contest next year’s Armenian parliamentary election widely seen as a key test for his presidential ambitions.
“I think that it is not a particularly pressing issue at the moment,” he told journalists during a visit to Armenia’s Constitutional Court. “Political processes are going on in a normal fashion and in accordance with my programs.”
Sarkisian, whom many local observers consider President Robert Kocharian’s most likely successor, had promised to publicly clarify his political plans at the beginning of this year but has still not done so.
The powerful defense chief ran for parliament in the last election held in 2003 on the ticket of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and was widely expected to remain on the HHK slate in 2007. But this has not seemed a forgone conclusion ever since the creation last January of an extremely ambitious party led by one of Armenia’s wealthiest government-connected businessmen, Gagik Tsarukian. The party called Prosperous Armenia is believed to have been set up with Kocharian’s blessing.
The Armenian press has speculated that Sarkisian’s electoral alliance with Tsarukian is a real possibility. The oligarch is also reportedly being courted by the HHK.
Sarkisian remained reticent about his anticipated participation in the 2008 presidential election, repeating only that it depends on the outcome of next year’s parliamentary vote. “Let’s see how the situation unfolds,” he said. “It is still too early to talk about that.”