Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian will fly to Brussels on Tuesday for talks with European Union officials amid growing expectations of his participation in next February’s presidential election.
A BHK statement issued on Monday announced that Tsarukian will meet with high-ranking officials from the EU’s executive European Commission and senior members of the European Parliament during the two-day trip. It did not name those officials or specify the agenda of the meetings.
Tsarukian, who is one of Armenia’s wealthiest men, will be accompanied by six senior BHK figures, including his top aide Naira Zohrabian and former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.
The visit comes as the BHK is poised to finally announce whether it will back President Serzh Sarkisian’s reelection bid or nominate its own presidential candidate. The party, which is the second largest in Armenia’s parliament, has given indications in recent weeks that Tsarukian will run for president after all.
Zohrabian denied any connection between the visit and the upcoming election. “These are going to be partisan meetings,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Our party is going to deepen its ties with many European parties.”
“Unlike other political forces, are not guided by [foreign] go-aheads. We are guided solely by our party interests and vision,” she said.
Oskanian, for his part, refused to comment on speculation that the BHK is keen to offset its reputation of a pro-Russian force with the Brussels trip ahead of the presidential vote.
The BHK said in July that it supports, in principle, Armenia’s accession to a Russian-led “Eurasian Union” of former Soviet republics. It organized the following month an international youth conference on the controversial idea promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.