By Ruzanna Khachatrian
A leader of the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) indicated on Friday that it is against giving the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) the post of defense minister in a new government to be formed by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
Dashnaktsutyun, which controls four other, less significant ministerial portfolios in the outgoing Armenian cabinet, implied during campaigning for the May 12 parliamentary elections that that is a necessary condition for its continued presence in government. Its leaders sounded more ambiguous on that score after the Sarkisian-led HHK swept to a landslide victory in the polls. Still, media reports have said they still hope to get hold of the crucial post, even though the Republicans will no longer depend on Dashnaktsutyun in pushing government bills through the National Assembly.
Clearly referring to the Armenian ministries of defense and foreign affairs, Tigran Torosian, the outgoing parliament speaker and the HHK deputy chairman, said: “There are two ministries whose heads are effectively chosen by the president of the republic. So why would the president of the republic gives those posts to any party?”
One of the Dashnaktsutyun leaders, Armen Rustamian, said on May 9 that the Defense Ministry must no longer be run by “those who do not represent a political force or a party.” “We must put an end to this,” he told a campaign rally in Yerevan.
Torosian insisted, however, that President Robert Kocharian must continue to directly control the Defense Ministry. “I don’t think he has to offer any party to nominate people here and there,” he said.
Like other top Republicans, Torosian made it clear that the HHK does not want to form a classical coalition government as a result of elections but is ready to give high-level government posts to other parties loyal to Kocharian. “The most important thing is to have full-fledged cooperation,” he told a news conference. “The more parties are involved in that cooperation, the more pluralism there will be.”
Although the HHK will have an absolute majority in the newly elected parliament, observers believe that Sarkisian is willing to share power with those pro-Kocharian forces which could endorse him for the Armenian presidency. Dashnaktsutyun leaders have said until now that they will have their own candidate in next year’s presidential election.
(Photolur photo: Tigran Torosian.)