Gagik Tsarukian, an influential businessman leading the second most important party in Armenia’s governing coalition, has ordered its structures and individual members to step up their activities “at all levels,” a senior party figure said on Wednesday.
Aram Safarian, a leading member of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), said Tsarukian issued such an instruction in an “extensive speech” before party activists last week.
“The party was tasked with being more active and bold at all levels,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “At the same time, I must say that we stand for honest competition and … will never strike from behind. We will not attack anyone in the government camp or the opposition.”
Safarian described the order as a response to what he called a recent upsurge in the activities of the BHK’s senior coalition partner, the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), and the main opposition Armenian National Congress. He insisted that it is not an indication that Tsarukian expects snap parliamentary elections or is at odds with the HHK’s top leader, President Serzh Sarkisian.
The two men have an “excellent rapport,” he said, denying persistent claims to the contrary appearing in the Armenian press. Some local media have also claimed that the HHK is trying to co-opt businessmen and parliamentarians affiliated with the BHK in an effort to minimize its coalition partner’s presence in the next Armenian parliament.
Representatives of both governing parties have repeatedly dismissed such speculation. Still, Razmik Zohrabian, an HHK deputy chairman, noted on Wednesday that the presidential party could seriously undercut the BHK if it wanted to.
“I am deeply convinced that the BHK can be damaged only if there are rifts inside it,” countered Safarian. “It’s very, very difficult to break us up from outside.”
What is more, continued Safarian, the BHK is capable of winning more parliament seats in the next elections due in 2012.
The party, whose leader is close to former President Robert Kocharian, boasts the second largest faction in Armenia’s current parliament and is represented in Sarkisian’s coalition government by four ministers.