By Emil Danielyan
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) boosted its presence in Armenia’s government on Wednesday when one of its leaders was named by President Robert Kocharian minister of science and education.
Levon Mkrtchian, who has led the nationalist party’s parliament faction until now, replaced Sergo Yeritsian as a consequence of the Orinats Yerkir party’s expulsion from Kocharian’s ruling coalition.
Yeritsian was sacked by Kocharian despite defecting from Orinats Yerkir along with the two other ministers representing the party led by Artur Baghdasarian, the outgoing parliament speaker. He is expected to be given another, less important government post.
Orinats Yerkir has controlled the Armenian ministries of education, urban development and culture under a power-sharing agreement which it had signed with Kocharian, Dashnaktsutyun and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK) three years ago. Dashnaktsutyun had been given three other ministerial portfolios and reportedly laid claim to the Education Ministry immediately after Baghdasarian announced his exit from the coalition on Friday.
Mkrtchian, who already served as education minister in 1998-99 and 2001-03, emerged as the top contender for the job. Speaking to RFE/RL on Tuesday, he did not deny that his appointment is imminent. “The idea of taking over [the ministry] for a third time is not quite attractive to me, but I am the kind of person who complies with party discipline,” he said.
Mkrtchian indicated that Dashnaktsutyun will not claim the post of parliament speaker when it formally becomes vacant next week. One of the National Assembly’s two deputy speakers, Tigran Torosian, appears to be in pole position to succeed Baghdasarian.
The second vice-speaker, Vahan Hovannisian, is also a Dashnaktsutyun leader.
(Photolur photo: Levon Mkrtchian.)