The leader of the second most important party in Armenia’s governing coalition has defended former President Robert Kocharian’s possible return to active politics and stopped short of endorsing the current President Serzh Sarkisian’s reelection plans.
In an interview published by the Tert.am news service on Monday, Gagik Tsarukian of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) said Kocharian has “the full moral and political right” to return to the political arena more than three years after completing his second and final term in office. He did not comment on the issue further.
Kocharian left more indications of his desire to regain a key role in the country’s leadership in an interview with the Mediamax news agency published on Friday. He said he could stage a political comeback if it is desired by “various strata of the society” and if there is no “tangible and steady improvement of the economic situation in country.”
The BHK has widely been regarded as a brainchild of Kocharian owing to its wealthy leader’s long-running and close ties with the ex-president. Hence, persistent media speculation that the party would serve as the main platform for such a comeback.
Last February, the BHK was pressurized into pledging to back Sarkisian’s candidacy in Armenia’s next presidential election due in 2013. Tsarukian signed a corresponding joint declaration with Sarkisian and Artur Baghdasarian, the leader of Orinats Yerkir, the third party represented in the government.
The tycoon did not mention that declaration in the Tert.am interview, however. Asked whom his party will support in the 2013 ballot, he said, “Parliamentary elections will be held first. Remember that.” He then repeated his earlier vague promise to name the BHK’s preferred presidential candidate “at the next class” for journalists.
Tsarukian insisted that his rapport with Sarkisian is “very normal and businesslike.” He also praised a dialogue between the ruling coalition and the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) that began in July but subsequently ground to a halt.
“I believe that the country must be spared upheavals,” he said. “I welcome the current president and the first president [and HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian] for placing the country’s stability above everything else.”